Feb 22

Economics professor’s research influencing educational and workplace policy

Equality. Economic mobility. Privilege. Workplace relations. Intrinsic motivation. Associate Professor Dr. Dora Gicheva’s passion for looking deeply into these and related issues is contributing to a broader body of knowledge that can be applied to real-life everyday topics for students, employees, employers, and policymakers.

Her current research projects aim to increase access and retention of post-secondary education for limited-resourced students and create pathways for building success through hard work.

For example, one project studies the impacts of redesigning online courses at community colleges as a relatively inexpensive way to increase the success of community college students. Another looks at a large public university and how integrated financial and academic advising for at-risk students may increase retention. Additionally, Gicheva studies the impacts of offering affordable health insurance to students whose parents don’t have insurance.

“Even though many universities offer student health insurance plans, the cost may be prohibitive. Community colleges often don’t offer any health insurance, so in either case, students may need full-time employment to get insurance, which means less time to focus on their studies,” she said.

Gicheva is also looking at the implications of a relatively new arrangement where all North Carolina high school juniors take the ACT Test.

“This policy provides a new opportunity to high school students who wouldn’t otherwise think about taking a college entrance exam or applying to a four-year college. It incentivizes marginalized students – those students who come from families where nobody has gone to college and where college is not even on their radar. But once students take the test and see their score, the door may open up for submitting college applications,” she said. “It’s important to help students get into college and stay through graduation – especially those who don’t have family support.”

Gicheva says that being at the Bryan School is profoundly enriching because the students come from such diverse backgrounds.

“I look at the success of all of our students, and I really care about them realizing their dreams,” said Gicheva. “Our first-generation students, and some of our other students who don’t have a lot of resources to support them, receive a lot of encouragement and from peers, teachers, and staff. I’m happy to be part of the supportive UNC Greensboro environment.”