Research & Evaluation

Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness (ISCCR)

Arizona GEAR UP 2012-19 embraces the importance of evaluation and research through the Northern Arizona University (NAU) Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness (ISCRR), located at the NAU North Valley Campus in Phoenix, Arizona.  The Initiative’s three-person evaluation team works closely with Arizona GEAR UP professional staff on a range of research and evaluation activities in the area of college and career readiness. The goals of this collaboration are to ensure that the program services and interventions of Arizona GEAR UP 2012-2019 are grounded in evidence-based practice; to conduct quasi-experimental evaluations of program outcomes; to provide guidance about specific strategies suitable for replication or testing in other settings; and to add to the existing research base on effective college and career readiness practices. In the spirit of collaboration, NAU is pleased to support the opportunity and commitment to learn more about important factors in students’ college and career readiness.

Read more about our ISCCR Team

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Thomas G. Fetsco
Director of Research

Thomas Fetsco, Ph.D. is the Director of Research and Evaluation for the Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness. He has served as program evaluator for both state and partnership GEAR UP grants for ten years. Dr. Fetsco was the lead researcher on a study of the Arizona GEAR UP intervention, academic mentoring in 2010-12 and represents Arizona on the multi-state GEAR UP College and Career Readiness Evaluation Consortium. Dr. Fetsco is a professor of Educational Psychology at Northern Arizona University, and has thirty years of experience in the preparation of educational professionals at both the undergraduate and graduate level.


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Christine Totura 
Research Associate

Christine Totura, Ph.D., is a Research Associate with the Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness. Her major research interests include examination of school and community contextual factors influencing youth social-emotional and behavioral development and implementation of youth prevention programs, policies, and environmental strategies.  Christine received her doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the University of South Florida and has more than a decade of experience in school-based research and practice.


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Wenjie Tang 
Research Associate

Wenjie Tang is a Research Associate for the Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness. Her research interests include contextual and personal factors that influence college-readiness of minority and first-generation students.  Wenjie has worked as a program evaluator for non-profit organizations in California, Washington, D.C., and New York in the fields of education and social services.  Wenjie received her M.A. in Applied Social Psychology and Evaluation from Claremont Graduate University and her B.S. in Psychology from Zhejiang University in China.  She is a member of American Evaluation Association and Arizona Evaluation Network.


Research In Practice Briefs

Each Research In Practice paper contains a brief research summary for a topic in college and career readiness along with implications for professional practice. We have organized the papers thematically into series, and it is our intent to add papers and/or series each year.


Series I. Paper No. 1

The Importance of School Culture and Climate

Series I. Paper No. 2

Creating College and Career-Ready School Culture

Series I. Paper No. 3

Moving the Needle

Series II. Paper No. 1

Mentoring and College Readiness: Research Evidence and Implications

Series II. Paper No. 2

Bridging the Research to Practice Gap: An Academic Mentoring Example

Series II. Paper No. 3

Peer Tutoring and Deep Understanding

Series III. Paper No. 1

Metacognition: An Introduction

Series III. Paper No. 2

A Culture of Metacognition