Ness and Hearn will investigate the role of intermediaries in conveying research evidence in support of college completion, ways research evidence is used, and the extent to which policymakers rely on intermediaries. They will study five states participating in a regional compact: Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. The five states vary by governance characteristics, economic support for higher education, participation in a national alliance, and policy activity related to college completion. They expect states to vary in their use of research evidence depending on their level of engagement with different intermediaries and as a result of the state’s political, organizational, and economic characteristics. The intermediaries to be examined include state-level higher education governing/coordinating agencies, a regional compact (Southern Regional Education Board), and an influential national policy alliance (College Completion America). The investigators will employ a multi-phase, comparative case study of the five states. Investigators will review legislative testimony, websites, and policy reports and gather documents such as compact and alliance membership lists to map the connections between research and policy deliberations and actions. They will triangulate their document review with extensive key informant interviews with intermediary officials and state policymakers. The investigators will also observe meetings involving intermediaries, legislative committees, and education work groups. This research aims to move beyond static representations of research utilization toward a richer conceptual understanding of how research-based information is used by various stakeholders in policymaking.
This study will investigate the role of intermediaries in conveying research evidence in support of college completion, ways research evidence is used, and the extent to which policymakers rely on intermediaries.