Research News

UW-Madison’s Chan, Wang co-author study for Community College Review

December 24, 2015

UW-Madison’s Hsun-yu Chan and Xueli Wang are the co-authors of a report that was recently published by the journal Community College Review.

The article is titled, “Interact for What? The Relationship Between Interpersonal Interaction Based on Motivation and Educational Outcomes Among Students in Manufacturing Programs at Two-Year Technical Colleges.”

Hsun-yu Chan
Hsun-yu Chan
The paper’s abstract notes that “this study explored the relationship between different types of interpersonal interaction, characterized by their underlying motivations, and educational outcomes among students in manufacturing programs at two-year colleges. While there exist several ways to classify interaction, motivation as an inherent attribute that fuels behaviors has been largely neglected. In this study, we developed a nuanced approach to differentiating types of interaction based on students’ underlying motivation and further investigated how different forms of interaction are related to educational outcomes.”

The study examined data from the Community College Survey of Student Engagement and administrative records of 242 students entering manufacturing programs during the 2011-12 academic year at four public two-year technical colleges in Wisconsin. The outcome variables were students’ cumulative grade point average and their retention/graduation status as of spring 2013.

Chan and Wang found that “interaction can be grouped into three categories that represent different underlying motivations: interaction as a response to curricular demands, interaction for broader educational purposes, and interaction for diverse experiences.”

They report that “interaction for broader educational purposes was positively associated with GPA, but interaction as a response to curricular demands had a negative relationship with GPA. Diversity-related interaction moderated the relationship between college under-preparedness and retention/graduation status.”

Chan is a postdoctoral research associate at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research (WCER) who recently completed his Ph.D. with the School of Education’s No. 1-ranked Department of Educational Psychology.

Xueli Wang
Xueli Wang
Wang is faculty member with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. She also a principal investigator with WCER and a scholar with the Wisconsin Center for the Advancement of Postsecondary Education (WISCAPE).

This most recent report from Chan and Wang was completed under the METTE Project -- a research study funded by the National Science Foundation and conducted by WCER that studied more than 2,000 students at a technical college to see what socio-demographic background and high school academic experience, postsecondary experience and external demands are related to students' short-term, long-term and employment outcomes. Research findings have been published in other issues of the Community College Review and presented in national conferences.

The METTE Project was led by Wang and UW-Madison Professor Emeritus Allen Phelps, who also is a researcher with WCER. Phelps is a longtime faculty member with the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, and director emeritus of the Center on Education and Work. Chan was also part of this research team.

Meanwhile, Chan’s current post-doctoral research is with Wang’s NSF-funded project at WCER titled, “Expanding STEM Talent through Upward Transfer.”

To learn more about their most recent report in the Community College Review, check out the study for free online.