Absence of conflict of interest.
Edwards, R., McKay, H., Mattoon, A., & Yang, S. (2016). Consortium for Healthcare Education Online: Final evaluation report. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Consortium for Healthcare Education Online (CHEO) on education, earnings, and employment outcomes. This summary contains the findings from Pueblo Community College.
- Using institutional, employment, and wage data, the authors conducted a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who were enrolled in the CHEO program to a historic comparison group of students from previous enrollment years.
- The study found that CHEO program participation was significantly associated with earning more course credits, a higher probability of passing courses and receiving a credential, greater likelihood of pursuing further education, and higher rates of employment after program completion.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low because the authors used a comparison group from previous enrollment years presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the CHEO program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Consortium for Healthcare Education Online (CHEO) Program
Features of the Intervention
The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Community Colleges 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.
TAACCCT funds were used to establish the Consortium for Healthcare Education Online (CHEO) program, which was an interstate consortium consisting of eight community colleges across five states (Colorado, Wyoming, South Dakota, Montana, and Alaska). The CHEO program was created to assist with developing and redesigning allied health programs as well as create hybrid and online delivery options. Strategies included online/hybrid course formats; incorporating the North American Network of Science Labs Online (NANSLO) allowing students to complete science lab work remotely; career coaches to assist students from registration through graduation; building/expanding relationships with employers and local workforce representatives; stackable credential programs with viable career pathways; student portals to assist in planning future careers in healthcare; and the creation and use of open education resources.
Features of the Study
The study took place at Pueblo Community College (PCC) in Colorado. The authors used a nonexperimental design to compare students enrolled in the CHEO program to a historic cohort of students from PCC enrolled in the same programs of study. The treatment group included 4,375 PCC students enrolled during the CHEO grant period from Spring 2013 through Spring 2016. The comparison group included a historic cohort of 5,099 PCC students enrolled in the same or similar courses from Fall 2008 through Fall 2012. The study used multiple data sources including institutional and self-reported data from PCC and unemployment and wage data from the state. The authors examined differences in outcomes between the groups using statistical models with controls for demographic, academic, and employment information. Outcomes included academic performance (number of credits and pass rates), program completion (credentials earned, CHEO credential, and credential type earned), pursuing further education, earnings, and employment post-completion.
Education and skills gain
- The study found a significant relationship between program participation and number of credits earned, with CHEO participants earning 5 more course credits than the comparison group.
- The study found a significant relationship between program participation and the probability of pursuing further education; CHEO participants were over 19% more likely to continue education relative to the comparison group.
- The study also found a significant relationship between program participation and passing rates, with CHEO participants having a 19% higher probability of passing a CHEO course.
- Relative to the comparison group, the study found that CHEO program participants were 11% more likely to receive a CHEO credential and 6% more likely to earn any credential.
Earnings and wages
- The study did not find a significant association between the CHEO program and post-completion wages for both incumbent and non-incumbent workers.
- The study found a significant relationship between program participation and post-completion employment rates for incumbent workers; CHEO participants were 1% more likely to be retained in a job relative to the comparison group.
- For non-incumbent workers, the study found a significant association between the CHEO program and post-completion employment rates, where nearly 9% of program participants were more likely to gain employment after earning a CHEO credential.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors used a cohort from previous enrollment years as the comparison group. Because the outcome data on the two groups were collected from participants at different times, differences in outcomes could be due to time-varying factors (such as overall changes at the community college or labor market) and not the program. Therefore, the study is not eligible for a moderate causal evidence rating, the highest rating available for nonexperimental designs.
Causal Evidence Rating
The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low because the authors used a comparison group from previous enrollment years presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to the CHEO program; other factors are likely to have contributed.