Experts Call for New Higher Education Research Agenda

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Although more people than ever have access to American institutions of higher learning, a new report says research is needed to examine what educational programs are offered at colleges and what students actually learn.

The 25-page essay, entitled "Beyond Dead Reckoning: Research Priorities for Redirecting American Higher Education," is published by the National Center for Postsecondary Improvement (NCPI) headquartered at Stanford University. The report poses a fundamental question: More people have access, but access to what?

"We think that many policy-makers look at initial enrollments as the minimum threshold for access," says Dr. Patricia Gumport, associate professor of education and the center's executive director. "What we're saying is, `That's not enough.' You have to follow people through (college) to see what happens once they get in the door."

While the paper does not offer specific policy proposals, it asks probing questions to help set a new agenda for higher education research. "We are trying to create a sense of urgency in how well colleges and universities are meeting diverse needs and changing expectations," Gumport says. …


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