Absence of conflict of interest.
Kundin, D.M., & Dretzke, B.J. (2016). An evaluation of the manufacturing advancement and assessment center (MAAC) program, final report. St. Paul, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, College of Education and Human Development.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the Manufacturing Assessment and Advancement Centers (MAAC) program on educational outcomes.
- The authors used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who were enrolled in the MAAC program to a historic comparison group of students from previous enrollment years.
- The study found a significant relationship between program participation and increased credential attainment.
- 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 MAAC program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Manufacturing Assessment and Advancement Centers (MAAC) 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. federal grant.
In 2012, Hennepin Technical College (HTC) in Minnesota was awarded a TAACCCT grant to establish the Manufacturing Assessment and Advancement Centers (MAAC) program to address a demand in the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area for more highly skilled manufacturing workers. The MAAC program was designed to assist TAA-eligible and other adult or non-traditional learners, in earning credentials, become employed, receive wage increases, and retain employment in the manufacturing industry. The MAAC program’s primary goals were to establish an accelerated learning pathway for students and assist HTC in their ability to increase the number of students who receive credentials, complete programs, and retain employment. HTC awarded credit for prior learning assessments and implemented online learning opportunities. They also provided students with access to hands-on simulation technology (e.g., virtual welders, CNC machines, and 3D printing), career counseling, and strong organizational support with increased resources.
Features of the Study
The nonexperimental study compared students enrolled in the MAAC program to a historic cohort of students from HTC enrolled in the same programs of study. The treatment group consisted of 220 HTC students who participated in the MAAC program (51 participants were enrolled in 2014 and 169 were enrolled in 2015). The comparison group also consisted of 220 HTC students from the same manufacturing programs, but who were enrolled in 2011 and 2012 prior to the implementation of the MAAC program. The authors matched MAAC students to similar students using propensity scores developed from demographic and academic variables. Using institutional data and self-reported data from HTC, the authors conducted statistical models to examine differences between the groups on program completion (measured as earning an Associate’s degree, a certificate or a diploma), earned credit hours, and the aggregate number of earned credentials.
Education and skills gain
- The study found a significant relationship between program participation and earning an Associate’s degree or a certificate or diploma, with a higher proportion of MAAC program participants from the 2014 cohort earning a credential (41%) than the comparison group (16%). However, there was no significant relationship found between the MAAC program 2015 cohort and credential attainment.
- The study also found a significant relationship between program participation and the aggregate number of earned credentials, with MAAC participants earning more credentials than the comparison group. However, there was no significant relationship found between the MAAC program 2015 cohort and the total number of obtained credentials. • The study found no significant association between MAAC program participation and earning course credits for both 2014 and 2015 cohort comparisons.
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The authors used a cohort of HTC students 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) and not the MAAC 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 MAAC program; other factors are likely to have contributed.