Education Professor Collaborates on Development of Assessment Tool to Promote Success in College Students
UAlbany education professor Heidi Andrade is collaborating on the development of an open-source assessment tool that allows colleges and universities to match students to targeted resources and services based on both their academic and non-academic skills.
ALBANY, N.Y. (January 13, 2016) – In an effort to increase student success and retention rates, Heidi Andrade, UAlbany associate professor, educational psychology and methodology, is collaborating on the development of an open-source assessment tool that would identify and provide support to all students, particularly those at risk of not completing a college degree.
The tool, Diagnostic Assessment and Achievement of College Skills (DAACS), will allow colleges and universities to match students to targeted resources and services based on both their academic and non-academic skills. Once developed, project leaders believe it could replace standardized tests used for college entrance, and help students avoid remedial education.
The project is funded through a $2.9 million grant by the U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, First in the World (FITW) Program. It’s led by Jason Bryer of Albany-based Excelsior College, who received his Ph.D. in educational psychology and methodology from UAlbany in 2014. Also working on the project is Timothy Cleary of Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Historically, colleges and universities across the nation have relied heavily on placement exams, however, they only provide two possible outcomes: students are either ready or not ready to begin credit-bearing coursework.
DAACS offers a research-based alternative which does not derail a student’s path to graduation. Though the tool does assess traditional academic measures like reading, writing, and math, its attention to non-academic measures like test anxiety, time management, and the ability to self-regulate learning distinguish it from other tools.
It provides immediate results and tailored recommendations for making improvements in areas of weakness. Data can also be distributed to academic advisors who help students choose appropriate courses and develop the self-regulated learning skills needed to be “college-ready.”
“We know without a shadow of a doubt that successful students set goals, select strategies for meeting them, monitor their progress, make adjustments as needed, and so on,” Andrade said. “The DAACS project will assess students’ self-regulated learning, recommend tactics and resources for boosting it, and provide support through college coaches and other resources.”
With the DAACS project being open-source, all assessments, resources, and curriculum developed will be freely available to other colleges and universities. Andrade believes the tool will offer significant benefits, specifically for non-traditional students, who may be most at-risk for not completing a postsecondary program.
To learn more about the DAACS project, view Excelsior College’s official press release. Also visit Andrade’s University expert page.
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