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Access at Crossroads: Learning Assistance in Higher Ed., D. Arendale   Click this web link to learn about my recent book

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     Access at the Crossroads Blog

    These blog entires identify best practices to increase success for historically-underrepresented college students including excerpts from my book, Access at the CrossroadsClick here to subscribe to this blog.


    Published Research: Impact of peer learning with postgraduate students

    Zaccagnini, M., & Verenikina, I. (2014). Peer Assisted Study Sessions for postgraduate international students in Australia.  Journal of Peer Learning, 6(1), 86-102. Retrieved from:

    Peer Assisted Study Sessions (PASS), a peer led academic support program that has multiple documented academic, social, and transition benefits, is increasingly being utilised in Australian instituti ons. Whilst PASS has been evaluated from multiple angles in regard to the undergraduate cohort, there is limited research regarding the benefits of PASS for postgraduate students, particularly international postgraduate students. This specific cohort's perspective is significant as international students constitute a large proportion of postgraduate students in Australian universities. This study investigates the role of PASS in contributing to the experience of international postgraduate coursework students at an Australian university through an investigation of its perceived benefits by this cohort of students.


    Strategies Can Help High-Achieving Minority Students Stay on Track

    Report: “Falling Out of the Lead: Following High Achievers Through High School and Beyond”  Authors: Marni Bromberg, research associate, and Christina Theokas, director of research at the Education Trust Organization: The Education Trust

    Summary:  Nationally, many minority and low-income students start high school performing in the top quarter of their classes in reading and mathematics. Many, however, leave high school with lower grade point averages and college-placement scores than those of their high-achieving white and more advantaged peers. The report examines ways that schools can better serve those students.


    • High-achieving white, black, and Hispanic students take similar course loads in high school. However, high-achieving students from low-socioeconomic backgrounds are less likely to take advanced math, advanced science, and Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses than are their more advantaged peers.
    • Performance gaps develop during high school, with minority and low-income students ending up with lower grade point averages and college-placement scores and lower AP success rates. As a result, those students are less likely to enroll in selective four-year colleges.
    • High expectations, strong support systems, and close, personal relationships can keep more of those students on track.

    Bottom Line: Schools that create a college-going culture by closely tracking students’ progress and providing access to authentic college-level work in high school, the researchers conclude, can help more students who start out strong remain that way.


    How ‘Undermatching’ Shapes Students’ College Experience

     “Undermatching,” the phenomenon in which students enroll at less-selective colleges than their academic qualifications suggest they could have attended, is a hot topic in higher-education research. Among the topics studies have examined so far: how common undermatching is, its effect on graduation rates, and a low-cost way to change where high-achieving, low-income students apply to and enroll in college.

    A paper scheduled to be presented on Friday at the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting considers undermatching from a different angle: how it shapes high-achieving students’ experience in their first year of college.  Using data from the National Survey of Student Engagement, the paper compares the self-reported engagement, satisfaction, and gains in knowledge, skills, and personal development for high-achieving, undermatched students and their peers attending “match” institutions.

    The undermatched students reported a less-challenging academic environment, lower satisfaction, and fewer gains. Those findings, the paper says, may explain why students who undermatch are less likely to graduate, as other research has found.  But some experiences of undermatched students were more positive than those of their peers at more-selective colleges. The undermatched students reported having more interactions with professors and higher engagement in active and collaborative learning styles.

    The paper, “Selectivity and the College Experience: How Undermatching Shapes the College Experience Among High-Achieving Students,” is by Kevin J. Fosnacht, a research analyst at the National Survey of Student Engagement.


    D-Day As It Happens-BBC Documentary (Part 3 of 3)

    This is part two of the two-part documentary. Go to their website for complete information,

    D-Day As It Happens-BBC Documentary (Part 2 of 3)

    This is part one of the two-part documentary.  Go to their website for complete information,


    D-Day As It Happens -- BBC Documentary (Part 1 of 3)

    Most of the time the entries through my blog focus on academic issues related to academic access to college.  I also have another part of me that focuses on history.  As a formally-trained historian, I am curious about many things.  A particular interest is World War Two.  Sometimes people think that it was inevitable that the Allies would win and the Axis power would be defeated.  A careful examination of history reveals the precarious nature of victory in World War Two.  It is filled with turning points.  If enough of those turning points had favored the Axis powers, history would have been different.  If the U.S. aircraft carriers had been docked in Pearl Habour on the morning of December 7, 1941, the U.S. might have had to sue for peace.  If the Germans had succeeded with developing the atomic bomb first, they could have been the ones to end the war in their favor.  Another turning point was the invasion on June 6, 1944 which is called D-Day.  The British have created a remarkable television program to celebrate the anniversay of the victory on D-Day.

    D-Day: As It Happens was a real time 24-hour history event. Broadcast across TV, online and social media, we told the story of this pivotal event in a new way. You can still track the progress of seven people who were there on the day – each a real participant in the 1944 invasion. Check out the website for much more information about the seven people profiled and the larger scope of the battle,

    New, unpublished research was used to gather film, photographs, radio reports and other records of D-Day, work out when and where each was shot, and assemble them on a 24-hour timeline. All the words in quotation marks have been taken from interviews with our D-Day 7 or accounts written by them – we simply converted them into the present tense, or shortened them to fit.  Over the 24-hours, you could watch two programmes on Channel 4, follow all the action as it happened on the website, and follow the D-Day 7 on Twitter.


    Free Interstate College Access Evaluation Project Teleconference

    The College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium

    Please join the free teleconference on Thursday, March 20th, 2014 at 10:00 am (Central) To register, subscribe to our group mailings here.  You will receive an invitation for the event that includes the telephone number (not toll free) and your unique registration code.  If you would like to receive automatic calendar invites to our group calls, please email us at with the address where you would like to receive the notifications.

    NOTE: Due to the high volume of calls please dial in 10 minutes prior to the scheduled call time to ensure that you are on the line by 10:00 am (Central).

    Join us to learn about an interstate college access evaluation project that is using multi-state data to effectively enhance our work. This effort grew out of project directors wanting to conduct a self-evaluation of the GEAR UP program nationally, partnerships with the National Council for Community and Education Partnerships, ACT, Inc., and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center that have proven invaluable to the project, and a desire to conduct the first large-scale longitudinal GEAR UP evaluation. The first deliverable that the Consortium has accomplished is common definitions for services in GEAR UP/college access programs. Ultimately, this research and evaluation will strengthen the GEAR UP project, as well as inform college access programming in local education agencies outside of GEAR UP—all while working to meet the President’s 2020 goal.

    Please cut and paste the link below into your browser to down load the power point presentation for this Affinity Group Call. There you will also find updated information on news and events within the US Department of Education, White House, and much more.

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