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Kalogrides Awarded Dissertation Grant by the American Educational Research Association

Demetra Kalogrides has been awarded a dissertation grant for spring 2007 through fall of 2008 by the American Educational Research Association.
Supported by funds from the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Institute of Education Sciences, the AERA dissertation grant is a prestigious, nationally competitive grant awarded annually to promising scholars doing quantitative research projects that have the potential to inform educational policy.

Project Abstract

While some researchers have argued that community colleges facilitate upward social mobility for disadvantaged students by increasing access to higher education (Cohen 1990; Leigh and Gill 2003; Rouse 1995), critics contend that community colleges are part of a class-based tracking system in higher education helping to aid in social reproduction (Brint and Karabel 1989; Clark 1960). Critics’ contentions are supported by research that suggests that attrition from community colleges is high, transfer to four-year institutions is low, and completion of bachelor’s degrees among transfer students is also low. Findings such as these have led many to argue that there are some institutional characteristics of community colleges that inhibit educational attainment, net of the attributes of the students they enroll. This line of research, however, suffers from two serious methodological flaws: failure to compare the outcomes of similar groups of two and four-year students and failure to adequately address issues of self-selection. By adjusting for self-selection and taking more care in creating comparable groups of transfer and four-year students than past research, the proposed project will substantially improve upon prior studies. These improved estimates of the effectiveness of the transfer pathway will provide the more accurate understanding of the effects of community college attendance on the educational attainment of bachelor’s degree aspirants that policymakers need in order to design policies that will effectively reduce educational inequality.