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Equity & Student Experience

In many college courses, students of color and financially stressed students are far less likely to experience identity safety, belonging, or instructors who effectively communicate confidence in their potential. This experience gap contributes to the broader opportunity gap because—as research shows—these affirming experiences are crucial for students to fully engage and successfully persist in college.

What is Ascend?

Ascend is a free, data-driven professional learning program that enables college instructors and administrators to learn how their students are experiencing courses and what they can do to make those experiences more equitable, more engaging, and more supportive of student success. Ascend is currently being developed through the Student Experience Project. We welcome your feedback on how to improve this beta product.

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How does it work?

Educators use a brief, research-based survey to learn how students experience course(s). Once educators can recognize the experience gaps in their own courses, they are better equipped to take action to address them. Educators repeat the process through multiple cycles of inquiry and action in order to systematically create better learning experiences for all of their students.

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1. Elevate Student Experience

In a 5-10 minute survey, students describe how they are experiencing a course.

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2. Review Feedback

A confidential report shows how students’ experiences are promoting or hindering equitable learning.

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3. Learn Relevant Practices

A practice guide provides recommendations for creating more engaging & equitable learning experiences.

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4. Track Improvement

Repeat the survey to see how students experience new practices. Repeat steps 1-3 to keep improving.

Key Details

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Eligibility

Any U.S. 4-year or 2-year college or university can use Ascend. Ascend is designed for use by instructors or those who supervise or coach instructors (e.g., department chairs or staff at teaching and learning centers).

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Fast

It takes less than 30 minutes from registration to get through your personalized setup and start surveying students. Your confidential, disaggregated survey results are available a few days later—allowing you to take action quickly.

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Free or Affordable

Ascend is free thanks to the Raikes Foundation. Large scale implementations can benefit from additional services, like customized implementation planning and reporting, live demos, and enterprise tech support. Visit our support page to learn more.

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Learn with Us

Ascend is still in beta. We’re actively working with our college partners and R&D partners to fine-tune it by learning what approaches work best for whom and in what contexts. We hope you’ll join us in this distributed continuous improvement initiative.

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Secure & FERPA Compliant

We keep your information secure, and we have a strict, legally binding privacy policy that is FERPA compliant. Hundreds of schools and colleges around the U.S. have used PERTS services under these legal and technological guarantees.

Ready to get started?

Click below to go to our online platform where you will be able to sign up and prepare to participate.

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About PERTS

The Project for Education Research That Scales (PERTS) is a nonprofit research and development institute that translates insights from psychological science into cutting-edge tools, measures, and recommendations that educators anywhere can use to foster healthy and equitable academic engagement and success.

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