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NSF Assessment Grant #1 Update: Conceptualization Continues

In our last installment we stated our intention to apply for a $2.5, 5-year EHR CORE grant. As you may recall:

We started with previous findings:

  1. The survey data had revealed a relationship between the student characteristics targeted by the assessment and high GPA for entering students at the end of their first semester.

  2. The survey data revealed a pattern consistent with protective and risk factors as predicted by the theory from which it was derived.

We identified our problem/question:

1. The survey had been validated but only with data from one HBCU.

a. Would the findings hold up at different HBCU’s?

2. Some of the survey items were more closely linked to GPA than others but we don’t know why

a. Could items linked to GPA help generate other items that also linked to GPA?

We wrote up how we planned to solve the problem in a 2-page document and shared it with a program officer:

1. The program officer said our plan was too big for one grant and suggested that each problem become a separate grant proposal.

GRANT #1- The assessment instrument is unique: psychometrically-sound; derived from a developmental theory sensitive to race and class distinctions, normed at an HBCU.

GRANT # 2- Partnering with other HBCU’s: Recruiting research partners at other HBCU’S could reveal different student characteristics that are associated with high freshmen GPA at their respective institutions. This information could be useful in designing more effective intervention efforts. This information could be useful in predicting which students have more risk factors than protective factors as identified by the assessment.

We are now prepared to begin writing the specific aims and the research plan for the assessment instrument development (Grant #1) but we realize that this effort is linked to Grant #2.

QUESTION? How to create a community of HBCU researchers all aligned around using the same assessment and sharing their data with each other?


  1. Build collaboration into the research plan.

  2. Make community building part of a formative evaluation plan.

  3. Give the partners something (in addition to the survey) that will be useful and of value to them.

  4. Something else we haven't thought of ????*

*We are recruiting research collaborators, preferably who teach in STEM disciplines. If you are interested and wish to learn more, please email me at

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