Completed Projects

College Life During the Pandemic

In the Spring of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the lives of college students around the world with classes moved online, internships rescinded, and graduation ceremonies cancelled. Inequalities highlighted by the pandemic, in combination with continued police violence against Black communities, contributed to a wave of protests across the country. Such factors can have a dramatic influence on the educational goals, career plans, and values of college students. In this context, CCWT has launched this oral history project to amplify the voices of these students and to document their experiences adjusting to an unprecedented period in our nation’s history.

Read more about our project: Unprecedented Times: College Students Navigating 2020

Skilled Non-College Occupations

This research project aims to (1) critically assess existing definitions of skilled non-college occupations, also known as “middle-skill” jobs, or jobs that require significant training after high school but do not typically require a bachelor’s degree; (2) offer a new definition if existing definitions are proven to be unsatisfactory; (3) provide an in-depth exploratory analysis of skilled non-college occupations in the U.S. at the national, state and sub-state levels; (4) analyze the economic, social, and public policy implications that can be derived from the empirical identification of skilled non-college occupations. The goal of the project is to offer the most rigorous and comprehensive analysis to date of skilled non-college occupations in the U.S., aiming to inform post-secondary education and training decisions at the individual and societal levels.

Skilled Non-College Occupations in the U.S. (blog postresearch brief (PDF)full report (PDF))
Skilled Non-College Occupations in Wisconsin (in progress)
Skilled Non-College Occupations After the Great Recession (in progress)

Working Learners Study: UW-Parkside

The Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions has recently begun a research project to understand the career development needs of working learners at UW-Parkside. In a recent survey of 2017-2018 UW-Parkside graduates, more than 40% of respondents reported working off-campus for pay for more than 30 hours per week. This figure is reflective of growing numbers of students across the country who are simultaneously managing schoolwork and significant work commitments. CCWT’s exploratory research study will examine the contexts and experiences of working learners in an effort to help institutions strategically support and promote positive postgraduate career outcomes for this critical student population. The research project team members include Matthew Hora (PI) and Jacklyn John Fischer, a doctoral student in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

The project is funded by the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Refugee experiences with higher education and careers in Wisconsin

The study is an ethnographic inquiry to investigate the pathways and obstacles that refugees face accessing and succeeding in college and transitioning to the post-college workforce in Wisconsin. Stage 1 of the project, which is ongoing, is to interview, observe, and collect documents about the work of a sample of refugee resettlement providers, higher education educators and administrators, and refugee community leaders who support higher education for refugees; and Stage 2 will be to ethnographically track students’ experiences with this process through interviews and observations as they work toward the goal of college attainment. This research will be the first of its kind to document the policy and sociocultural contexts of the resettlement-college-workforce transition process, and to document ethnographically how refugees manage and experience this process. Read the research report on higher education for refugees in Wisconsin (PDF).

Refugee experiences with higher education and careers in Wisconsin one page brief (PDF).

Student-led, Participatory Action Research to Examine Higher Education Issues

Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a partnership approach to research involving academic researchers and community actors with the aim of gaining a more grounded understanding of a given phenomenon through shared, collaborative decision-making that positions community members as researchers rather than research subjects. CCWT conducts qualitative PAR projects with UW-Madison undergraduate students that focus on central issues in higher education. Because these issues directly impact students’ lives, their perspectives as researchers are particularly valuable.

Study 1: Documenting the aims of higher education in Wisconsin

The high costs of higher education and its benefits to students and to society are central issues in the legislative and public debate on the role of higher education in the state. Yet too often debates about higher education, and its ultimate purpose for students and the public, do not include the perspectives and experiences of community members from different walks of life.

In order to enrich and inform this debate, CCWT worked with a team of UW students to conduct interviews with Wisconsin residents to document and identify their views on the aims of higher education and subsequent implications for public policy. Documenting the Aims of Higher Education Report (PDF)

Research Grants Program

The Research Grants Program of the Center for Research on College-Workforce Transitions (CCWT) is intended to support research projects with budgets up to $20,000 or less that focus on student experiences with the college-workforce transition process. Successful proposals will be consistent with the mission of CCWT, which is to support applied research that ultimately informs policies, programs and practices that promote academic and career success for all learners.

New Grants Explore How College Students Transition to Work
First Up, Latinx Parents and Anthropology Majors

Over the next two years, two research studies funded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Center for Research on College to Workforce Transitions (CCWT) will help reveal how two types of college students – Latinx parents attending community college and undergraduate anthropology majors – transition to work and life after college.

Read full article

CCWT Announces the Winners of the 2017-18 Research Grants Competition

Daniel Ginsberg
For: “Anthropology Undergraduates Plan for Life after College.”

In this project, we seek to understand how anthropology majors reconcile these competing narratives as they learn about the job market and position themselves within it. We will recruit a cohort of anthropology students to participate as undergraduate research fellows and train and support them as they conduct ethnographic research related to their peers’ preparations for life after college.
Daniel Ginsberg is Manager of Education, Research, and Professional Development at the American Anthropological Association.

Adrian H. Huerta & Cecilia Rios-Aguilar
For: “A Mixed‐Methods Study of Latinx Community College Student‐Parents and Their Work‐Force Considerations.”

Adrian H. Huerta, PhD and Cecilia Rios-Aguilar, PhD will conduct a mixed-methods study of Latinx student-parents in one Hispanic-Serving community college to understand how they use or don’t use college resources in preparing for the workforce and their transition into the labor market. Community colleges face multiple challenges in retaining and supporting their students, but it becomes more complicated in helping student-parents whose schedules, obligations, and commitments exceed the number of hours in the day.

Adrian H. Huerta is a Provost Postdoctoral Scholar in the Pullias Center for Higher Education situated in the Rossier School of Education at the University of Southern California. Cecilia Rios-Aguilar is Associate Professor of Education and Director of the Higher Education Research Institute in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Grant Winners (PDF)