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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Shawn Donnelly
Research Associate

Shawn Donnelly is a Research Associate for the Initiative on the Study of College and Career Readiness. His research interests includes understanding the roles of intersectionality, individual and community strengths, and empowerment in addressing issues of access to postsecondary education. Specifically, he is interested in how students from traditionally underrepresented populations leverage resources from across their various environments and overcome adversity in order to enroll in postsecondary education. Shawn received his M.A. in Community-Social Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

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: Building a College and Career-Ready School ClimateSeries II: Academic SupportSeries III: Non-Academic Readiness FactorsSeries IV: Dropout PreventionSeries V: Postsecondary Transition