Gateway to College believes that research is a critical component in the work to raise high school graduation rates and provide a pathway to a meaningful postsecondary credential.

Gateway to College National Network serves young people with considerable adult responsibilities, and the need for holistic student support. As a result, we look to the research areas of education and human development to improve the way we serve students. We come from an ecological perspective that ensures that we consider our students within their neighborhoods and communities as well as their school achievements and challenges. We draw from the literature on positive youth development to find ways to leverage our student’s strengths and support them in building skills that give them every opportunity to become thriving adults. In addition to building our evidence base from existing research, our research and evaluation team also collects data from our network partner programs to track student outcomes and identify our programs’ strongest practices to share with the network.

To receive information regarding GtCNN research or reports, please contact:

Devora Shamah, PhD

Senior Manager, Research



Our goal is to understand our students’ experiences in and out of school. Because Gateway to College focuses on young people between ages 16 and 24, we look to understand adolescence, barriers to education, motivation, good pedagogy, and holistic student support. Below is a selection of what we have been reading recently.

Creating Sustainable Career Pathways for Disconnected Youth

This Center for Promise report reflects our theoretical approach to understanding young people, and the and the experiences shared by these youth are similar to those working in Gateway to College classrooms right now. The report includes recommendations for supporting more young people as they prepare to become adults.

Implementing a Holistic Student Supports Approach: Four Case Studies

Gateway programs focus on integrating holistic student supports that help students access supports, such as mental health counseling or transfer counselors, that are available at their host college. This set of case studies from Achieving the Dream demonstrates how to think about this process at the institutionallevel and helps us think about the institutional structures that need to be in place to ensure that student support is accessible to everyone who needs it.

From Future Self to Current Action: An Identity-Based Motivation Perspective

Building motivation is an important part of supporting success for young people. A majority of Gateway to College programs use Pathways to Success, an intervention designed by Daphna Oyserman using an Identity-Based Motivation perspective, to facilitate students building their motivation. This paper describes current studies that unpack the relationship between identity, future selves, and motivation.


Social Support and Academic Engagement Among Reconnected Youth: Adverse Life Experiences as a Moderator

Pan, J. , Zaff, J. F. and Donlan, A. E. (2017), Social Support and Academic Engagement Among Reconnected Youth: Adverse Life Experiences as a Moderator.Research on Adolescence, 27: 890-906. doi:10.1111/jora.12322

How trust grows: Teenagers’ accounts of forming trust in youth program staff.  

Griffith, A. N., Larson, R. W., & Johnson, H. E. (2018). How trust grows: Teenagers’ accounts of forming trust in youth program staff. Qualitative Psychology, 5(3), 340-357.

Relationships are the foundations of student support. This paper looks at the processes by which youth evaluate the trustworthiness of adults over time and how programming can support building relationships.

“I don’t know, I’ve never been to college!” Dual enrollment as a college readiness strategy

Mechur Karp, M. (2012), “I don’t know, I’ve never been to college!” Dual enrollment as a college readiness strategy. New Directions for Higher Education, 2012: 21-28. doi:10.1002/he.20011

This paper out of the Community College Research Center provides insight into how we implement dual enrollment and some of the benefits for the most vulnerable students.


A few reports help us explain the strengths and needs of young people today. We return to these again and again.

Teaching Adolescents to Become Learners: The Role of Noncognitive Factors in Shaping School Performance

This literature review from the University of Chicago Consortium on School Research from June 2012 does an excellent job of summarizing adolescent development and what we know works in the classroom. Farrington and her colleagues focus on the non-cognitive factors and each section includes applied examples.

Why Rural Matters

Here at GtCNN we have been spending more time in the rural part of Oregon in an effort to understand barriers to education across the state. Why Rural Matters is produced by the Rural School and Community Trust and serves as an easy way to see how the states rank and what issues they prioritize.