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Release: Aug. 30, 1999

Pascarella paper on community college kicks off state education series

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The Iowa Academy of Education will launch an Occasional Research Paper Series in September with a piece by a University of Iowa education professor on how community college impacts students.

"Community College Effects on Students: A Review of Recent Evidence" by Ernest T. Pascarella, the UI's Mary Louise Petersen Professor of Higher Education, will be the first paper in a planned series produced for the academy, which was created two years ago by the Des Moines-based FINE (First In the Nation in Education) Foundation. The academy's membership, which is open only to individuals who have made "significant contributions to educational improvement through outstanding research and scholarly activities," includes eight professors from the University of Iowa -- including Pascarella -- and two from the University of Northern Iowa.

Academy president and FINE Foundation board member David Jepsen, a professor of counselor education at the University of Iowa, said he's excited about the new series.

"The intent of the series is to promote informed discussion among Iowa educational scholars, leaders and policy makers on topics of importance to the future of education in Iowa," Jepsen said. "The first paper by Professor Pascarella is an excellent example of serious scholarship by a national expert in higher education whose work has applications to state policy."

Pascarella said an earlier version of his paper was published about two months ago by Community College Journal. Among Pascarella's findings:

  • The economic premium one receives from completing community college credits is increased if one completes a coherent program of study (i.e., an associate degree).
  • Initial attendance at a community college may allow a student to transfer to a more selective four-year college than he or she might have attended right out of secondary school.

Community college students who transfer to a four-year college and complete their bachelor's degree do about as well in the labor market as similar students who initially enroll in four-year colleges.

Pascarella said the academy and the Occasional Paper Series provide an avenue for conveying cutting-edge research in education to Iowa's education leaders and policymakers.

"I think sharing this with policymakers might be one way of making a connection between research and practice," Pascarella said, adding that much research is too often written only for other researchers.