ATLANTA — The Ascendium Education Group has selected a team of researchers from Georgia State University’s Georgia Policy Labs (GPL) to receive research funding through its Building Evidence to Increase Rural Learner Success initiative.
Principal investigator David C. Ribar and his team will use the three-year grant of up to $500,000 to study the Technical College System of Georgia’s eCampus initiative for rural learners. They will evaluate the impact of the system’s statewide online instruction initiative on the enrollment, completion and employment outcomes of rural learners.
Ribar is joined by co-investigators Professor Ross Rubenstein, the Dan E. Sweat Distinguished Chair in Educational and Community Policy, Jennifer Darling-Aduana, an assistant professor of learning technologies in the Department of Learning Sciences in the College of Education & Human Development, and GPL Senior Research Associate Monica Mogollon Plazas. Data scientist Annick Simo with the GPL completes the team.
“Online distance learning has been a tool for closing postsecondary education gaps that arise from geographic, scheduling and other obstacles for rural learners, learners from low-income backgrounds and learners from underserved groups,” Ribar said. “Although research has identified many benefits and promising features of online learning, it also points to challenges and has left gaps, which our study of the eCampus initiative will address.”
Their research is part of a larger effort by Ascendium to generate insights nationally about strategies that can improve postsecondary education and workforce training opportunities and outcomes for rural learners from low-income backgrounds.
“It’s our hope that the research generated by partners through this initiative will inform postsecondary education leaders, policymakers, state and federal agencies and others with an interest in best supporting rural learners,” Ascendium wrote in a press release announcing the award.
Georgia State is one of seven institutions nationwide to receive this award. Over the three-year grant period, the American Institutes for Research (AIR) will support the selected grant partners in refining their projects, sharing insights and challenges as they emerge, and developing findings that can be put to immediate use by leaders, policymakers and practitioners serving rural learners.
Ascendium Education Group is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization committed to helping people reach the education and career goals that matter to them. Ascendium invests in initiatives designed to increase the number of students from low-income backgrounds who complete postsecondary degrees, certificates and workforce training programs, with an emphasis on first-generation students, incarcerated adults, rural community members, students of color and veterans. Ascendium’s work identifies, validates and expands best practices to promote large-scale change at the institutional, system and state levels, with the intention of elevating opportunity for all. For more information, visit https://www.ascendiumphilanthropy.org.
David C. Ribar
Professor of Economics & Faculty Director
Child & Family Policy Lab, Georgia Policy Labs
David C. Ribar is an applied micro-economist and interdisciplinary scholar whose research focuses on family dynamics, the causes and consequences of economic disadvantage, evaluating programs to alleviate disadvantage, and measuring and modelling well-being in many different contexts. Additionally, he has conducted research on homelessness, child care, the consequences of teenage fertility, the economic motivations behind public and private transfers, people’s time use, and other topics.