Our Approach

What We Do

The SSTAR Lab conducts original research and evaluation on issues related to college opportunity and student success. Across all of our work, we prioritize the practical side of research and promote ongoing improvement to better support current and future students.

How We Do It

We do this through a unique research-practice partnership with UW-Madison’s Division of Enrollment Management. Internal partners include the Office of Student Financial Aid, Office of Admissions and Recruitment, and the Registrar’s Office. We also do this through external partnerships with other universities, philanthropic organizations, governmental agencies, and schools and colleges on campus. In each setting, we approach our research questions and evaluation plans in collaborative and student-centered ways that leverage data insights to improve programs, policies, and practices.

Why This Approach Matters

Researchers and practitioners benefit greatly from one another’s expertise. Research is better when well-informed by practice. And practice is improved when it engages with research. By being physically located in the Division of Enrollment Management, the lab builds and maintains relationships with financial aid administrators, admissions counselors, and several professionals within the division supporting students on a daily basis. This proximity allows administrators to have convenient and direct access to researchers who can help develop and respond to research questions to help support/inform their decision-making. Our approach allows the lab develop and test new ideas for promoting student success.