University Innovation Alliance

September 24, 2015

U.S. Department of Education Awards $8.9 Million to Evaluate Analytics-Based Advising for Low-Income and First-Generation College Students

The University Innovation Alliance receives First in the World grant to conduct four-year study to evaluate impact of analytics, coaching

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – The U.S. Department of Education announced that Purdue University, as a member of the University Innovation Alliance (UIA) was selected as one of the winners in its First in the World competition to encourage innovation among institutions of higher education. Purdue and its 10 UIA partners will use the $8.9 million award to conduct a four-year research study, evaluating the effectiveness of advising in increasing retention, progression, and graduation rates for low-income and first-generation students. 

“Today, more institutions are turning to data and analytics to help personalize advising and identify struggling students before they get too far off track,” said Bridget Burns, UIA executive director. “Our mission is to test new ideas, understand what works and scale effective innovations across the country to ensure that more students have the supports they need to complete college. The First in the Word grant will enable us to study the work already taking place at our 11 institutions, and test best practices using data analytics that we can share with and beyond the Alliance.” 

The project will study 10,000 students who are exposed to an intensive menu of proactive, analytics-based advising interventions at the UIA universities. Through quantitative and qualitative research and analysis, the study will examine the benefits, especially for at-risk students, of introducing systematic, proactive advising. 

“Purdue joins our fellow alliance members in a strong commitment to enhancing both affordability and accessibility to higher education,” Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. “This important initiative will ultimately help us find a way to make sure the promise of higher education is attainable for low-income and first-generation students.” 

Frank Dooley, Purdue’s vice provost for teaching and learning, said the collaborative approach of the study will aid universities in finding more proactive ways to ensure students receive the support they need to be successful. 

“This study will help us use technology and targeted personal interactions more effectively,” Dooley said. “If we successfully identify students who need assistance and provide meaningful aid, we can increase their opportunities not only for college success, but for success after graduation, as well.” 

“This grant illustrates why the Alliance is so important. Over the next four years, our 11 institutions will produce groundbreaking evidence illustrating the impact of predictive analytics on student success that will have national significance,” said Dr. Tim Renick, vice president for enrollment and project lead at Georgia State University. 

As part of the study, students at each of the 11 universities will be selected by random assignment and will receive, in addition to advising services typically offered, (a) intensive, proactive advisement to help them establish individualized academic maps, (b) real-time alerts prompted by a system of analytics-based tracking when they may be struggling, and (c) timely, targeted advising interventions to get them back on the appropriate academic path. 

Launched just one year ago, the UIA is a consortium of public research universities established to help more students from all socioeconomic backgrounds graduate from college. This year, all institutions are implementing or scaling the use of data analytics and advising to improve student retention and college completion.


The University Innovation Alliance includes:

Arizona State University
Georgia State University (project lead)
Iowa State University
Michigan State University
Ohio State University
Oregon State University
Purdue University
University of California, Riverside
University of Central Florida
University of Kansas
University of Texas at Austin



About the University Innovation Alliance: The University Innovation Alliance (UIA) is a national consortium of 11 large public research universities spanning the geographic, economic and social diversity of our country. Together, we are working to regain America’s economic competitive edge by helping more students graduate with a high-quality and affordable education. We do this by broadening participation in higher education and implementing proven programs that significantly improve graduation rates for all students regardless of socioeconomic background.

Our members’ commitment:

  • Increase the number of graduates
  • Increase the diversity of graduates (particularly economic)
  • Innovate and collaborate together
  • Lower our cost by enhancing our effectiveness at scale


Related news release:

Purdue receives $2.3 million federal grant to study active learning: 

Source: Frank Dooley, 765-494-1874,