Absence of conflict of interest.
Wixom, G. (2017). Weber State University Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant-round 3: Final third party evaluation report. Orem, UT: Education Matters.
- The study’s objective was to examine the impact of the enhanced Health Information Technology Career Mobility (HITCM) program on education outcomes.
- The author used a nonexperimental design to compare the outcomes of students who were in the enhanced HITCM program to a matched comparison group of students in the non-enhanced HITCM program.
- The study found that enhanced HITCM program participation was significantly associated with more credits earned and higher graduation rates.
- The quality of causal evidence presented in this study is low because the author 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 enhanced HITCM program; other factors are likely to have contributed.
The Health Information Technology Career Mobility (HITCM) 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.
Weber State University (WSU) received a TAACCCT grant to enhance their Health Information Technology Career Mobility (HITCM) program, designed to target TAACCCT candidates and adult workers. The HITCM track consists of the Health Information Management (HIM) Bachelor of Science Degree, Health Information Technology (HIT) Associate of Applied Science Degree, and Healthcare Coding Certificate and Network Technology and Multimedia (NTM) Network Management/Network Security certificate, Associate of Applied Science Degree and Bachelor of Science Degree programs. Changes were made to increase student access to HITCM courses, which included adding online education technology/delivery and partnering with other higher education institutions to allow Weber State students to attend HITCM courses at their campuses.
Features of the Study
The nonexperimental study was conducted at WSU’s campus in Ogden, Utah and compared students who participated in the enhanced HITCM program to students who did not participate. The author matched HITCM participants to similar nonparticipants using demographic information. The treatment group included 347 students who participated in the HITCM program and were enrolled between spring of 2015 and spring of 2017. The comparison group was a historical cohort composed of 760 students that were enrolled in the original HITCM program in the five years before TAACCCT-funded enhancements were made. Using WSU’s databases, the author conducted statistical models to examine differences in the outcomes between the treatment and comparison groups. Outcomes included the number of credits earned and graduation rates.
Education and skills gain
- The study found that enhanced HITCM program participation was significantly associated with higher credit attainment, with students in the treatment group earning five more credits than students in the comparison group.
- The study also found a significant relationship between enhanced HITCM program participation and graduation rates, with 23% of students in the treatment group graduating with an Associate’s degree and 19% with a Bachelor’s degree (as compared to 0.9% and 0.8% of students in the comparison group, respectively).
Considerations for Interpreting the Findings
The author 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) and not the HITCM 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 author 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 enhanced HITCM program; other factors are likely to have contributed.