Community College Research Initiatives


The Community College Research Initiative’s team travels around the country to present our research at conferences. We invite you to view our presentations!


Designing Destiny: How to Engage in Equity and Inclusion

Jobs for the Future Post-Secondary Network Bi-Annual Meeting, Fort Lauderdale, July 16-17, 2019

CCRI’s Lia Wetzstein and Katie Kovacich joined Oregon’s SSC Executive Director Elizabeth Cox Brand and New York’s Rockland Community College President Michael Baston in leading this session using frameworks based on Reflective and Critical Reflective Practice and the Collaboration Continuum to give attendees the tools and strategies they need to navigate and facilitate the sometimes difficult conversations that people must have in order to truly engage in the critical work of improving diversity, equity, and inclusion. We highlighted practices at both the system and institutional levels, and offered examples from the coaching model being used in the Oregon Pathways cohorts and the engagement strategy that Rockland Community College uses to build campus-based support with and through stakeholders.

Faculty as Change Agents: Presenting Research-to-Practice

Council for the Study of Community Colleges (CSCC), San Diego, March 28-30, 2019

CCRI director Debra Bragg joined colleagues Pamela Eddy, Yi Hau, and Ellen Everson to share how faculty can become change agents at the Council for the Study of Community Colleges annual conference in San Diego. The presentation shared lessons learned from the Supporting and Advancing Geoscience Education at Two-Year Colleges (SAGE 2YC) project, an effort to build a national network of geoscience faculty who use evidence-based change strategies to improve student success, broaden participation, and facilitate career pathways.

Presenting with New America at the Community College Baccalaureate Association Conference

Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA), New York, February 22-24, 2019


CCRI researchers Debra Bragg and Maria Claudia Soler presented findings from a study conducted with New America partners Mary Alice McCarthy and Ivy Love. The study focused on state adoption of baccalaureate degrees by community and technical colleges. During the CCBA presentation, researchers highlighted what’s happening in states that are new adopters (e.g., Missouri & Ohio), potential adopters (e.g., New Hampshire & Wyoming), and mature adopters (e.g., Florida & Washington).


Debra Bragg was again joined by Mary Alice McCarthy and Ivy Love to present framing ideas on equity in baccalaureate programs. The presentation included discussion of equitable access to and support throughout programs at community colleges for historically underrepresented and/or marginalized students. Presenters focused on barriers to enrollment and success in baccalaureate programs across higher education sectors (e.g. cost, information asymmetry, time poverty) and how community colleges can and are rising to meet these challenges.

Multiple Ways of Enacting Partnerships for Transfer Student Success: What Promotes and Impedes Collaborations

National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS), Atlanta, February 13-15, 2019


CCRI team members presenting are Lia Wetzstein and Theresa Ling Yeh. Learn about research designed to understand the multiple ways partnerships are enacted and what policy, practice, and cultural norms promote or inhibit these collaborations. In this interactive session, we draw upon qualitative data from a larger multi-state, mixed-methods study of two and four-year institutional pairs that outperform others in their state at transfer and completion. We interviewed faculty, staff, and students and will present findings on the various factors that influenced their partnerships.

Faculty Development to Obtain Student Success: Learning Across National Science Foundation Grant Projects

Ready or Not? An Analysis of College and Career Readiness Emphasis in Every Student Succeeds Act State Plans
Friday, April 13, 4:05 to 5:35pm, New York Hilton Midtown, Second Floor, Gibson Suite

Presented by: Don Hackmann, Joel Malin, & Debra Bragg. This study examined the extent to which college and career readiness (CCR) is emphasized in ESSA state accountability plans using Critical Policy Analysis to study 52 plans (50 states, DC, Puerto Rico). Findings disclose most states identified CCR components as part of their school quality or student success indicators; however, few used ESSA to restructure their state initiatives to address persistent inequities.

Image of NSF presentation: Faculty development to obtain student success: learning across national science foundation grant projects

How Curriculum Word Redefines Technical Faculty Roles in the Community College
Sunday, April 15, 10:35am to 12:05pm, New York Marriott Marquis, Fourth Floor, O’Neil

Presented by: Debra Bragg. This study examined the change in roles for faculty who received seed-funding grants to develop technical curriculum for their institutions and an NSF-funded regional center called the Center for Advanced Automotive Technology (CAAT). Results provide an in-depth look at how and what community college technical faculty who are persistently invisible in the higher education literature learned from the intensive seed-funding process that required they conduct research, design new courses, pilot instructional materials, and disseminate their work. Download our handout.


Debra Bragg, Director of CCRI, is leading the upcoming design lab at the Community College Baccalaureate Association (CCBA) conference in Washington DC on March 16-18, 2018.

The design lab addresses questions such as: What are AB degrees? What forms do they take in community college and university settings? What roles should community colleges and universities play in implementing these degrees? How should the impact of AB degrees be evaluated?

AB Design Lab: Building an Objective Business Case for Applied Baccalaureate Degrees
Debra Bragg, Director, Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington; Mary Alice McCarthy, Director, Education and Skills, New America; Brian Durham, Deputy Director of Academic Affairs, Illinois Community College Board.

This session will focus on a new research collaboration that is focusing on filling gaps in what states and institutions need to know to build a successful business case for applied baccalaureate degrees. The session will focus on questions that need to be asked, data that need to be collected, and perspectives (favorable and unfavorable) that need to be addressed.

AB Design Lab: Evaluation and Continuous Improvement of Baccalaureate Degree Programs
Maria Soler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Melissa Cominole, Senior Research Associate, RTI International

This session presents information gathered through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to evaluate implementation of AB degrees in STEM fields and the annual AB degree evaluation conducted by Washington State. Examples of evaluation methods and tools will be shared, with Q&A on how to proceed with meaningful evaluation approaches.

NISTS, National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students, 16th Annual Conference, February 7-9, 2018

The National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students (NISTS) exists to improve the lives of transfer students. Through research, education, and service, we support professionals who directly serve transfer students, as well as those who create transfer policy and conduct transfer-related research. The CCRI team presented in three sessions.

Strategies to Increase Transfer Student Success via Reverse Transfer and Degree Reclamation (Transfer Policy, Current Research)
February 8, 2018, 8:30am – 9:30am, Plenary Session

States and institutions around the country have developed and implemented policies such as reverse transfer and degree reclamation that are intended to help transfer students and students with “some college, no degree” complete their degrees. This session will share lessons learned and best practices from both the Credit When It’s Due (CWID) initiative and Project Win-Win, which conferred over 20,000 associate’s degrees to students. The session will also discuss opportunities to scale degree reclamation strategies across institutions and states.

Transfer Matters: New Research on Transfer Types, Participation, Pathways, and Policy
February 8, 2018, 1:45pm – 2:45pm, Concurrent V, Salon G

This panel discussion will bring together editors and contributors of Community College Review’s recent special issue on transfer students. The idea for the special issue was born from a meeting held at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in 2016, where a group of scholars discussed the common and traditional set of policies and practices advanced to facilitate successful transfer: common core, course numbering, transferrable two-year degrees, and articulation agreements. What emerged was a discussion of new and innovative inquiry to advance understanding on transfer types, access and participation in transfer, effective pathways and partnerships, and transfer policy with the intent of informing future transfer student success efforts. Special issue editors and contributors will share insights from their work and engage in discussion with conference participants seeking to improve practice and/or advance their own scholarship on transfer students.

High-Performing Transfer Partnerships: Lessons Supporting Underserved Student Success
Community College Research Initiatives, University of Washington-Seattle, February 9, 2018, 8am – 9am, Concurrent VI, Salon I

Presented by: Debra Bragg, Director; Lia Wetzstein, Research Scientist; Theresa Ling Yeh, Research Scientist. Building on data gathered through the Credit When It’s Due (CWID) initiative, lessons learned about high-performing transfer partnerships in Colorado and Minnesota are discussed. In this session, the researchers will share information and strategies related to policies, practices, and culture that link community colleges and universities in ways that support higher than expected baccalaureate degree completion among underserved student populations.


CCRI presents at ASHE 2017 – No Simple Solutions: Using Equity to Frame Research on High Performing Transfer Partnerships

Chair, Alicia C. Dowd, Penn State University; Discussant, Estela Mara Bensimon, University of Southern California; Organizer, Debra Bragg, University of Washington

Problematizing and Prioritizing to Reframe Transfer Research, Debra Bragg

What Does the Literature Say about Underserved Transfer Students?, Theresa Yeh

Considering How Equity Can Reframe Transfer in an Era of Demographic Change, Maria-Claudia Soler, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Equity Focused Transfer Culture: Reframing Research to Inform Institutional Changes that Account for Students’ Diverse Experiences, Lia Wetzstein

Measuring Transfer Partnerships for Equitable Outcomes: Initial Findings from the Higher Performing Transfer Partnerships Study, Elizabeth Apple Meza

APPAM Conference Presentation 2017

Debra Bragg presented at the Association of Public Policy Analysis and Management (APPAM) Annual Research Conference in Chicago, IL on November 4, 2017. How Obama’s College Completion Agenda Influenced the Implementation and Scaling of Health Professions Pathways in U.S. Community Colleges. Details of the session is listed in the APPAM website.