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Bagels & Research Event Recap

Karen Tao, UX Researcher
January 29, 2020


Our Bagels & Research meetup was held at the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute on Wednesday, January 22. We shared our latest research with fellow researchers and education policy experts in the community. 

Josh Spolsdoff, research economist at the Gardner Institute, presented his research on economic impact analysis of Utah's public higher education institutions with a focus on out-of-state students using an innovative approach for estimation. Using cross-section and panel datasets obtainable only from the Utah Data Research Center (UDRC), this research removed student wages that would have otherwise caused positively biased impacts, as well as provided insight into how long nonresident students stay in Utah after completing their studies.

The second presentation was from Cory Stahle, former UX researcher at the UDRC, and Tyler Cain, former intern at the UDRC. This research focuses on postsecondary graduates who remained in the Utah workforce by studying factors that influence their decision to stay in Utah. Utah wages were examined for those who graduated in 2013 from the Utah System of Higher Education and the Utah System of Technical Colleges to identify whether a student is retained in the workforce. The study identified top predictor variables of workforce retention using random forest feature importance. The researchers also trained various machine learning models to predict retention rates by using the 2013 cohort data. Finally, the predicted retention rates of the 2016 cohort of graduates using the most influential features in gradient boosted trees and artificial neural networks were presented.

Both presentations were followed by numerous questions from an engaged audience, and presenters generously shared their expertise. We’d like to thank the Gardner Institute for hosting this event. Our appreciation also goes to presenters Josh, Cory, and Tyler. We hope to see you at our next Bagels & Research event.