By James Day — Corvallis Gazette Times

An educational alliance involving Oregon State University has received an $8.9 million federal grant to continue its work.

The University Innovation Alliance, a consortium of OSU and 10 other colleges, received the “First in the World” grant as part of a competition to encourage innovation in higher education.

The alliance will use the money to study the effectiveness of advising in increasing retention, progression and graduation rates for low income and first-generation students. Assisting such students is a key goal of the alliance.

“This grant will significantly aid Oregon State University’s effort to foster far greater student success,” said OSU President Ed Ray. “Along with other University Innovation Alliance partners, Oregon State will learn how to effectively use predictive analytics to improve student retention and graduation rates through individual advising and academic counseling.

“My intent is to share all that we learn throughout the higher education community.”

The grant will be administered by Georgia State University on behalf of the alliance. George State will conduct a four-year research study on all 11 alliance campuses. Students at each campus, who will be selected at random, will receive:

  • Intensive, proactive advising to help them establish individualized academic maps
  • Real-time alerts prompted by a system of analytics-based tracking when they may be struggling
  • Timely, targeted advising interventions to get them back on the appropriate academic path
  • “The … grant will enable us to study the work already taking place at our 11 institutions,” said Bridget Burns, executive director of the alliance, “and test best practices using data analytics that we can share with an beyond the alliance.”
  • Other universities in the alliance, which was launched last September, are Arizona State, Iowa State, Michigan State, Purdue, Ohio State, UC Riverside, Central Florida, Kansas and Texas.