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TN-PEARL was created in 2017 to research the effectiveness of initiatives developed under Tennessee’s “Drive to 55” campaign.

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Featured Research

“Earning to Learn: Working While Enrolled in Tennessee Colleges and Universities”, by Celeste Carruthers, University of Tennessee; Walter Ecton, Florida State University; Carolyn Heinrich, Vanderbilt University

An excerpt:

Although some students choose to work while enrolled in college, others may have no choice but to work, even if work may be detrimental to their chances of succeeding in college. Leveraging 17 years of statewide student-level records from Tennessee, the authors examine the relationship between working while enrolled and degree completion, time to degree, credit accumulation, and grade point average. The authors aim to increase understanding of how the timing and intensity of work relate to student outcomes and to explore how these relationships differ by college sector, industry of employment, and student characteristics. The authors find consistent negative associations between work and academic success, especially at higher levels of work intensity. Working students attempt and earn fewer credits and are 4 to 7 percentage points less likely to complete college. Among completers, working students take longer to graduate, even though they earn similar grade point averages and complete their attempted credits at similar rates to nonworking students.

“Expectations of a Promise: The Psychological Contracts Between Students, the State, and Key Actors in a Tuition-Free College Environment” by Jenna W. Kramer

An excerpt:

This qualitative study examines Tennessee Promise students’ (N = 60) perceptions of supports and resources during their first year of college. Students’ reflections suggest that they hold expectations for support from the state beyond scholarship dollars, and that other actors, including faculty, staff, parents, and the state’s nonprofit partner, mediate fulfillment of these expectations. Students’ unmet expectations for the state may impede their college success and signal dimensions of student need not met by current scholarship program provisions. Evidence of these “psychological contracts” has implications for the architecture and framing of Promise programs and the provision of supplemental supports by colleges.

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