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Evaluation of Ivy Tech’s pathways to information technology: Implementation and outcomes, final report (Edwards et al 2018)

Absence of conflict of interest.

Citation

Edwards, R., Douglas, D., Van Noy, M., Javed, S., Hubbard-Mattix, L., & Pardalis, N. (2018). Evaluation of Ivy Tech’s pathways to information technology: Implementation and outcomes, final report. Piscataway, NJ: Rutgers Education and Employment Research Center.

Highlights

  • The study’s objective was to examine the effects of Ivy Tech Community College’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant for enhanced Information Technology (IT) curriculum on education outcomes of community college students.
  • The study used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who were in enhanced IT courses to a comparison group of students in Advanced Manufacturing courses. Using Ivy Tech College’s administrative records, the authors conducted statistical models to examine differences between the groups.
  • The study found no statistically significant relationships between participating in the TAACCCT IT program and the number of terms enrolled or number of credits earned.
  • The quality of causal evidence presented in this report is low because the authors used a comparison group from a different academic program presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Ivy Tech’s TAACCCT IT program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Intervention Examined

Ivy Tech’s TAACCCT IT program

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. Ivy Tech Community College received a federal TAACCCT grant to retention, completion, and employment of Information Technology (IT) students. Beginning in 2014, Ivy Tech strengthened and reorganized their computing programs by: 1) purchasing supplies to support hands-on learning, 2) adding professional development opportunities for faculty, 3) redesigning/enhancing program pathways, 4) developing a student advising tool and student competitions, and 5) expanding employer outreach and connections with the workforce system.

Features of the Study

The nonexperimental study took place at Ivy Tech Community College in Indiana, although the authors did not note if they used some or all of the 40+ campus locations throughout the state. The treatment group consisted of 4,806 students who took TAACCCT-enhanced IT classes in either Fall or Spring semesters of the 2014–15 or 2015–16 academic years. The comparison group consisted of 1,933 students who took Advanced Manufacturing classes in the same timeframe. The Advanced Manufacturing field of study includes classes in Biotechnology, Electrical Engineering Technology, Engineering, Engineering Technology, Mechanical Engineering Technology, and Nanotechnology. Using data from Ivy Tech’s administrative records, the authors used a difference-in-difference analysis to compare outcomes between the treatment and comparison groups.

Findings

Education and skills gain

  • The study did not find significant relationships between participating in the TAACCCT IT program and two-term continuous enrollment, number of terms enrolled out of six terms, three-term credits earned, or six-term credits earned.

Considerations for Interpreting the Findings

Given that the two groups of participants were enrolled in different programs (IT versus Advanced Manufacturing), differences in outcomes could be due to varying factors in the programs of study (such as required coursework) and not the TAACCCT-enhanced IT 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 report is low because the authors used a comparison group from a different academic program, presenting a confounding factor. This means we are not confident that the estimated effects are attributable to Ivy Tech’s TAACCCT IT program; other factors are likely to have contributed.

Reviewed by CLEAR

April 2020

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