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Central Georgia Technical College, TAACCCT (Center for Applied Research 2017)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Center for Applied Research. (2017). Central Georgia Technical College, TAACCCT. Charlotte, NC.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the BlendFlex program on community college students’ education outcomes.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare outcomes of students who completed at least one BlendFlex course to a matched comparison group using student records and data from the National Student Clearinghouse.
  • The study found that when compared to non-participating students, BlendFlex program participation was associated with higher credit accumulation, a higher overall transfer rate, a higher transfer rate to a 4-year college, and a higher rate of earning a certificate or diploma.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the BlendFlex programming, but other factors might also have contributed.

Intervention Examined

BlendFlex

Features of the Intervention

The U.S. Department of Labor's (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) program provided $1.9 billion in grants to community colleges to improve skills and support employment in high-demand industries, notably manufacturing, health care, information technology, energy, and transportation. Through four rounds of funding, DOL awarded 256 TAACCCT grants to approximately 800 educational institutions across the United States and its territories.

Central Georgia Technical College (CGTC) received a TAACCCT grant in September 2013 to develop the Central Georgia Healthcare Workforce Alliance. This initiative was created to help train individuals in the college's service area for employment in high-demand healthcare careers. The alliance created the BlendFlex program that expanded online education and training access to rural and other working adult students after an initial program pilot was deemed successful. As a result, all general education and pre-requisite health courses were adapted to the BlendFlex format and only health science students could participate in the program. The online delivery platform allowed classes to be captured live and recorded so students could view the lectures multiple times and when it's most convenient for them; also, course items could be viewed at other campuses or on students' electronic devices at any time. The BlendFlex program also provided student services such as tutoring, employment workshops, and success and career coaching.

Features of the Study

The authors used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who participated in the BlendFlex program with students who had not taken any BlendFlex courses but were planning to major in a healthcare program. The authors matched BlendFlex participants to similar nonparticipants using propensity scores developed from demographic characteristics and baseline academic performance in developmental courses. The treatment group consisted of 1,333 students and the comparison group consisted of 1,256 students. Using data provided by the college’s student information system and the National Student Clearinghouse from summer 2014 through fall 2016, the authors conducted statistical models to examine differences in educational outcomes. Educational outcomes included credit accumulation, transfer rates to other academic institutions, graduation rates, the number of terms completed, certificates earned, and diplomas or degrees during the evaluation period.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study found that there was a significant relationship between program participation and credit accumulation with BlendFlex students on average accumulating 40.12 credits by the end of the evaluation period versus 31.90 credits for comparison students.
  • However, the study found that BlendFlex students were significantly less likely to transfer overall (25%) or transfer to a 4-year college (30%) when compared to students in the comparison group.
  • The study also found that BlendFlex students were roughly 50% more likely to earn a certificate or diploma compared to students in the comparison group and this was statistically significant.
  • The study found no other statistically significant relationships between enrollment in the BlendFlex program and education outcomes.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Although the authors used a well-implemented nonexperimental design, treatment group participants self-selected into the BlendFlex program. Students who self-selected into the program could differ in observable and unobservable ways, affecting the outcomes. Also, though the evaluation period for this study spanned 3.5 years, this period may not be sufficient in fully capturing outcomes of interest. While this period may have effectively included the long-term educational outcomes of students enrolled in the intervention program toward the beginning of the grant period, the outcomes of those in latter program cohorts may not have been fully realized by the end of the study.

Causal Evidence Rating

The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is moderate because it was based on a well-implemented nonexperimental design. This means we are somewhat confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the BlendFlex program, but other factors might also have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

May 2020

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