Our findings below are reports and publications that we have written or coauthored that are related to the HEDS mission of advancing liberal arts education, inclusive excellence, and student success.


HEDS reports are findings from our surveys and projects by people at HEDS institutions or external partners collaborating with HEDS. You can find open projects HEDS is supporting on the HEDS Research Projects page.

In HEDS’s work with institutions, we’ve had many conversations with first-year students. In recent years, we’ve heard a misalignment between how students describe the skills and knowledge they bring to college and the assumptions that people at institutions make about the skills and knowledge that incoming students bring with them.

To help institutions learn more about the academic experiences entering college students have had, we developed a short module – Institutional Readiness for Incoming Students – that we added to the HEDS New Student Survey in Fall 2023. The module’s goal is to help institutions ensure that their first-year courses, programs, and experiences align with the skills and experiences of their incoming students.

That fall, 2,900 students from 13 HEDS institutions used the module. We’ve summarized what students said, as well as some of our takeaways from the data, and conclude with a discussion of the implications of these data for ensuring that we are meeting our new students where they are, helping them understand our expectations for college-level academic work, and increasing the chance for all our students to succeed.

HEDS Report: Memo on Institutional Readiness for Incoming Students Module

This HEDS research project was designed to learn how advancement/development professionals and faculty at colleges and universities understand one another’s work and to identify ways to make their collaboration both easier and more productive.

What do we know about how these colleagues work together and what they understand about this relationship? How can advancement and academic affairs best collaborate with each other? Are there ways that leaders can support and develop these relationships? We think these questions are relevant for institutions whose budgets are stressed in the post-COVID landscape of higher education. Many schools are placing additional emphasis on fundraising that could ease budget pressures and fund programs that support student persistence and success.

The surveys asked people about their experiences with, attitudes toward, and knowledge of the work of their colleagues. For faculty, the survey asked about their experiences with advancement colleagues and their level of knowledge about advancement operations. Conversely, advancement staff answered questions about their understanding of the work of faculty and administrators in academic affairs.

The study’s principle investigators were Frank Boyd (HEDS Senior Research Fellow and Vice President in the Higher Education Division of McAlister and Quinn) and Carlo Robustelli (Vice President of Advancement at Dickenson College) The survey was developed in collaboration with a committee comprised of Diane Wilder (Haverford College), Ellen Peters (University of Puget Sound), Annie Hargrave (Guilford College), Laura Palucki Blake (Harvey Mudd College), Jacqueline Macneil (Eckerd College), Susana Santos (Whittier College), and Kait Wilcox (Grinnell College).

HEDS Report: Results from Survey on Collaboration between Advancement and Academic Affairs

In response to the rapid changes institutions implemented in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we created several short surveys in both spring and fall to help institutions assess the impact those changes had on their students, faculty, and staff. The following page contains links to those survey instruments and the reports we created summarizing the aggregate results from participating institutions.

 HEDS COVID-19 Surveys and Reports


These publications include findings from HEDS surveys, focus groups, and collaborations between HEDS staff and other researchers.

This study examined data from the HEDS Alumni Survey administered over three academic years (2015–2018):


Scholars and the public alike have questioned the benefits of obtaining an undergraduate education. Although research has extensively examined short-term outcomes associated with college experiences, relatively few studies have investigated non-economic outcomes beyond graduation. This paper explored the link between college experiences and post-college outcomes among 21,716 bachelor’s degree recipients from 68 private institutions. Although some variation across demographics was observed, good teaching, academic challenge, and diversity experiences were consistently—and often strongly—related to alumni’s perceptions of intellectual and civic growth.

Bowman, N., Wolniak, G., Seifert, T., Wise, K., Blaich, C. (2023). The Long‐Term Role of Undergraduate Experiences: Predicting Intellectual and Civic Outcomes. Research in Higher Education 64, 379–401. doi.org/10.1007/s11162-022-09708-5

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Based on research for the HEDS Student Success Project. The project’s goals were: (a) to find out more about the ways that students think about their postcollege success and (b) to use what we learn to shape the work of HEDS on student success. In short:

  • Colleges and universities are placing more emphasis on student success.
  • When asked about their vision of a successful life, students focus on a combination of meaningful work, financial security, fulfilling relationships, and balance.
  • Students may not have sufficient opportunities to talk about their vision of success and how it connects with their work in college.
  • Institutional efforts to help students find their passion may miss the deeper passions and commitments that students have developed before they arrive at our institutions.

Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2021). It’s Time to Bring Students into the Conversation About Student Success. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 53, 4-11.


Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2020) Clear and Organized Teaching: Simple in Concept, But Hard in Practice. New Directions for Teaching and LearningSpecial Issue: Effective Instruction in College Classrooms: Research‐Based Approaches to College and University Teaching. Winter2020, 9-17.

Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2020). The Road to Assessment Heaven Is Paved with Good Intentions. Assessment Update, 32, 8-9, 12.


Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2018). The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same: New Challenges to Using Evidence to Improve Student Learning. Research and Practice in Assessment, 13, 11-14.

Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2018). Scope, cost, or speed: Choose two–The iron triangle of assessment. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 50, 73-77.


Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2017). Approaching Big Survey Data One Byte at a Time. New Directions For Student Services, Autumn, 159, 25-34.

Roksa, J., Kilgo, C. A., Trolian, T. L., Pascarella, E. T., Blaich, C. & Wise, K. S. (2017). Engaging with Diversity: How Positive and Negative Diversity Interactions Influence Students’ Cognitive Outcomes. Journal of Higher Education, 88, 297-322.

Roksa, J, Trolian, T. L., Pascarella, E.T., Kilgo, C. A., Blaich, C., & Wise, K. S. (2017). Racial Inequality in Critical Thinking Skills: The Role of Academic and Diversity Experiences. Research in Higher Education, 58, 199-140.

Roksa, J, Trolian, T. L., Blaich, C. & Wise, K. S. (2017). Facilitating Academic Performance in College: Understanding the Role of Clear and Organized Instruction. Higher Education, 74, 283-300.


Blaich, C. & Wise, K. (2016). Don’t let the promise of better measures tomorrow excuse inaction today. In Arum, R., Roksa, J., Cook, A. (Eds.) Improving Quality in American Higher Education. Learning Outcomes and Assessment for the 21st Century. Pp. 317-321.

Blaich, C., Wise, K., Pascarella, E. T., & Roksa, J. (2016). Instructional Clarity and Organization: It’s not new or fancy, but it matters. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning, 48, 6-13.


Nelson Laird, T. F., Seifert, T. A., Pascarella, E. T., Mayhew, M. J., Blaich, C. F. (2014). Deeply Affecting First-Year Students’ Thinking: Deep Approaches to Learning and Three Dimensions of Cognitive Development. Journal of Higher Education, 85, 402-432.

Seifert, T., Gillig, B., Hanson, J. M., Pascarella, E. T. & Blaich, C. (2014). The Conditional Nature of High Impact/Good Practices on Student Learning Outcomes. The Journal of Higher Education, 85, 531-564.

Pascarella, E. T. & Martin, G. L., Hanson, J. M., Trolian, T. L., Gillig, B., & Blaich, C. (2014). Effects of diversity experiences on critical thinking skills over four years of college. Journal of College Student Development 55, 86-92. doi:10.1353/csd.2014.0009


Pascarella, E. T., Salisbury, M. H., & Blaich, C. (2013). Design and Analysis in College Impact Research: Which Counts More? Journal of College Student Development, 329-335.

Pascarella, E. T.  & Blaich, C. (2013): Lessons from the Wabash National Study of Liberal Arts Education. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning45, 6-15

Pascarella, E. T., Wang, J., Trolian, T. L., & Blaich, C. (2013). How the instructional and learning environments of liberal arts colleges enhance cognitive development. Higher Education66(5), 569-583.


Hanson, J., Pascarella, E. T., Blaich, C. (2012). Do Liberal Arts Colleges Make Students More Liberal?  Some Initial Evidence., Higher Education64, 355-369.

Mayhew, M. J., Seifert, T. A., Pascarella, E. T., Nelson Laird, T.F., Blaich, C. F. (2012). Going into Mechanisms for Moral Reasoning Growth: How Deep Learning Approaches Affect Moral Reasoning Development for First-Year Students. Research in Higher Education, 53, 26-46.

Pascarella, E. T., Salisbury, M. H., Georgianna, L. M. & Blaich, C. (2012). Some Complexities in the Effects of Diversity Experiences on Orientation Toward Social/Political Activism and Political Views in the First Year of College. The Journal of Higher Education, 83, 467-496.

Salisbury, M. H., Pascarella, E. T., Padgett, R. D., & Blaich, C. F. (2012). The effects of work on leadership development among first-year college students. Journal of College Student Development, 53, 300-324.


Pascarella, E. T, Salisbury, M. H., Blaich, C. F (2011). Exposure to Effective Instruction and College Student Persistence: A Multi-Institutional Replication and Extension. Journal of College Student Development, 52, 4-19.

Pascarella, E. T., Blaich, C., Martin, G. L. & Hanson, J. M. (2011) How Robust Are the Findings of Academically Adrift? Change The Magazine of Higher Learning, May/June 20-24.

Blaich, C. F. & Wise, K. (2011). From Gathering to Using Assessment Results: Lessons for the Accountability Movement from the Wabash National Study. Report for the National Institute for Learning Outcomes Assessment.

Banta, T. W. & Blaich, C. (2011) Why is Closing the Loop So Hard? And What Can be Done to Change That? Change The Magazine of Higher Learning, January/February, 22-27.

VanderStoep, S., Wise, K. S., & Blaich, C. (2011) Student Engagement in Liberal Arts Colleges: Academic Rigor, Quality Teaching, Diversity, and Institutional Change. In J. Crowgey (Ed.) Volume One of the Handbook of Engaged Scholarship – Transformations in Higher Education: The Scholarship of Engagement, pp 131-147.


Blaich, C.F., & Wise, K. (2010). Moving from assessment to institutional improvement. In T. Seifert (Ed.), Using longitudinal assessment for institutional improvement. New Directions in Institutional Research. Assessment Supplement, pp 67-78.

Pascarella, E. T, Seifert, T.A., Blaich, C. F. (2010). How Effective are the NSSE Benchmarks in Predicting Important Educational Outcomes? Change The Magazine of Higher Learning, 42, 16-22.

Seifert, T. A., Pascarella, E. T., Goodman, K. M., Salisbury, M. H., & Blaich, C. F. (2010). Liberal arts colleges and good practices in undergraduate education: Additional evidence. Journal of College Student Development, 51, 1-22. doi:10.1353/csd.0.0113


Seifert, T. A., Goodman, K. M., Lindsay, N., Jorgensen, J. D., Wolniak, G. C., Pascarella, E. T.  &  Blaich, C. F. (2008). The Effects of Liberal Arts Experiences on Liberal Arts Outcomes. Research in Higher Education, 49, 107-125.


Blaich, C. F. (2007). Assessing the Liberal Arts. Liberal Arts: Journal of the Gaede Institute for the Liberal Arts at Westmont, 6.


Pascarella, E. T., Cruce, T. M., Wolniak, G. C., & Blaich, C. F. (2005). Liberal Arts Colleges And Liberal Arts Education: New Evidence On Impacts. ASHE Higher Education Report, 31.

Blaich, C. F. (2005). Response to vocation: Reclaiming an applied concept of liberal learning. Vocation, vocationalism, and the liberal arts. Journal of the Institute for the Liberal Arts, 3, 63-65.


Pascarella, E. T., Cruce, T. M., Wolniak, G. C., & Blaich, C. F. (2004). Do Liberal Arts Colleges Really Foster Good Practices In Undergraduate Education? Journal of College Student Development, 45, 67-84.