Noncredit Research Collaborative

Projects

Principal Investigator: Michelle Van Noy, Education and Employment Research Center, Rutgers University

Funder: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation & The National Science Foundation, NCSES

Project years: 2021 – Present

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Abstract: Noncredit education and non-degree credentials have grown significantly in community colleges over the past several decades, but very little data exist on their effectiveness. This project will analyze program-level noncredit data to better understand the characteristics of such programs and to develop a taxonomy to guide future data collection efforts.

Principal Investigator: Peter Riley Bahr, University of Michigan 

Funder: Lumina Foundation for Education

Project years: 2023 – 2025

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Abstract: Many states are investing heavily in initiatives to grow college enrollment and graduation among adult-age individuals and strengthen economic resilience and vitality by increasing the share of the population who hold credentials of labor market value. Many of these initiatives draw on short-term credentials, stackable credential sequences, and/or noncredit occupational programs. However, we have little understanding of how students are utilizing these educational opportunities, and how use is related to workforce opportunities, which hinders the ability of states to use resources efficiently, maximize the achievement of goals, and ensure that socioeconomically disadvantaged and marginalized students benefit educationally and economically from emerging educational policies. To address this sizable blind spot in policy-relevant research, Dr. Peter Bahr is leading the project team to conduct six studies focused on (1) transitions between noncredit and for-credit occupational coursework and (2) for-credit stackable credential pathways in career technical education fields. The research draws primarily on state administrative data, supplemented by data collected through student interviews or student focus groups to unpack findings from the analyses of administrative data.

Principal Investigator: Di Xu, University of California, Irvine

Funder: Institute of Education Sciences (IES)

Project years: 2022 – 2025

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Abstract: Building on a long-standing partnership with the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and its 23 institutions, this project aims to  explore malleable factors within postsecondary noncredit career technical education (CTE) programs that may influence students’ academic and workforce outcomes.

Principal Investigator: Di Xu, University of California, Irvine

Funder: Lumina Foundation for Education

Project years: 2022 – 2024

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Abstract: This project explores and documents noncredit course enrollment, completion, and subsequent educational and labor market outcomes among students enrolled in non-credit CTE programs in the Virginia Community College System. 

Principal Investigator: Peter Riley Bahr, University of Michigan 

Funder: Lumina Foundation for Education

Project years: 2022 – 2023

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Abstract: Millions of students enroll in community colleges noncredit programs every year—most in occupational training—but there are few large-scale studies of the effectiveness of noncredit occupational programs in increasing students’ employment opportunities and earnings. In this study, use longitudinal administrative data from Texas to investigate the labor market returns to community college noncredit occupational education, as well as how the returns vary by duration of training, field of study, number of training spells, student demographic characteristics, and other factors. 

Principal Investigator: Michelle Van Noy, Education and Employment Research Center, Rutgers University

Funder: ECMC Foundation

Project years: 2022 – 2023

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Abstract: The Education and Employment Research Center conducted a review of the existing research literature on outcomes from noncredit education.

Principal Investigator: Michelle Van Noy, Education and Employment Research Center, Rutgers University

Funder: Lumina Foundation for Education

Project years: 2020 – 2023

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Abstract: An estimated 5 million students enroll in noncredit courses and programs at community and technical colleges each year. This project examined how community colleges ensure quality in noncredit programs and how students make choices about pursuing these credentials.

Principal Investigator: Peter Riley Bahr, University of Michigan

Funder:  Lumina Foundation for Education

Project years: 2020 – 2022

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Abstract: Community college noncredit education is a substantial yet sorely understudied segment of American higher education, enrolling millions of students each year, many in occupational courses. There is growing interest in understanding the extent to which noncredit programs support students’ future educational attainment and workforce preparation, but data limitations at the state and national levels have prevented intensive research. In this study, we undertake the most exhaustive empirical portrait of community college noncredit education to date. Using administrative data on millions of community college students from Iowa, California, Texas, Louisiana, and Indiana, we investigate who enrolls in noncredit education, the types of courses they take, and the academic and employment outcomes that they experience, seeking to assess the extent to which noncredit educational programs are a launchpad to employment opportunities, an onramp to credit-bearing coursework and credential programs, or a deadend for students

Principal Investigator: Mark D’Amico, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Funder:  Council for the Study of Community Colleges

Project years: 2018 – 2019

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Abstract: Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and Baylor University partnered with the Iowa Department of Education to study noncredit completion and contact hour outcomes.