Trying out College Courses in High School, Does It Help?

I've been hearing a lot about dual credit courses where kids take college courses in high school. In Austin, it's really pervasive. I've been wondering how much it helps. And well, my kids are that age. Should I encourage my son to get one under his belt before graduating? Does it matter if he takes dual credit courses or Advanced Placement? Does it benefit students equally regardless of family background?

Needless to say, I had a lot of questions. So I decided to do some research. I found some evidence about long-term impacts on students. Some researchers analyzed longitudinal data and set up quasi-experimental designs using different techniques. For example, Giani and colleagues found clear evidence that taking dual credit courses had a positive impact on post-secondary education, regardless of differences in family background, and the more  dual credit courses students took, the more they completed. Core academic courses mattered, not vocational courses, and taking math specifically influenced students' completing a bachelor's degrees. This article has a thorough literature review too. Take a look, see what you think. 

A Scientific View of Harvey, Houston, and the Long, Slow Ebbing Flow

The disaster realized by Harvey is particularly poignant for me: I grew up in Houston in the 70s and 80s. I saw rain come down in sheets for hours, our street flooded, and water reach the doorstep. I remember going to the movies in the rain, because we had cabin fever. (This was before home videos or streaming.) Often cars stalled out on a flooded road. Now, the aerial photos of highways turned to rivers and houses immersed is hard to believe.

In the search for information, I came across one article that might be useful in an environmental science class. Scientific American explains why the water lingers in the Houston area, why it takes so long to recede. Like my dad always used to say, "Houston is at sea level!" Take a look; let me know what classroom applications you imagine.

And here's some ways you can help out. Many of my projects benefit college students, and for some the financial aid packages for the year will no longer cover needs given the devastation, and trauma, at home. Some Texas universities taking donations: The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley, St. Edward's University, The University of Texas at Austin.

Looking for a Good Reference on Quasi-Experimental Design?

Sketch by Evelyn Burd

Sketch by Evelyn Burd

Recently, I worked with a client on a grant proposal. In the RFP, the funder stipulated that the evaluation study should have a quasi-experimental design--that is, if a full-blown experimental design was not possible. (The randomized controlled trials, or RCTs, that you've heard bandied about take precedence.) As the emails went back and forth, I realized that the funder's expectations were opaque. It was an opportunity to educate my client. Here's a brief sponsored by UNICEF that explains what a quasi-experimental design is, when you might use one, and how. Take a look and let me know if you have questions or thoughts about how you might use the methods. I'd be curious to know.