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Catalyst Grants
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The OTR Catalyst Grant is designed to catalyze new research that will advance both knowledge and best practices in orientation, transition, and retention. Prospective research studies, pilot studies, exploratory research projects (qualitative and quantitative), and assessment-based best practices (as defined by Upcraft and Schuh, 2002) are considered for the award. Grand funds may be used to support professional development, researcher(s) stipend, and project expenses, all (100%) in support of the proposed project. 


2018/2019 Applications

We are currently accepting applications for the annual OTR Catalyst Grant. Prospective research studies, pilot studies, exploratory research projects (qualitative and quantitative), as well as assessment-based best practices that may have implications for wider populations (as defined by Upcraft and Schuh, 2002) will be considered for this award. In the 2018-19 grant cycle, up to $5,000 will be awarded (awards vary from $500 to $1000).

Click here for application information and to apply for a 2018/2019 grant. 


2017/2018 Award Winners

Christina Yao
Christina Yao is the Assistant Professor of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She is a qualitative researcher who primarily studies student engagement and learning in higher education. Her research is operationalized through multiple connected topical areas including international education and teaching and learning. 

"An Exploratory Case Study on International Students' Orientation and Transition to a Predominantly White University"
This case study will illuminate institutional factors that contribute to first year international students’ successful orientation and transition to their U.S. institution of higher education. This study is  particularly important in today’s climate due to the “anti-globalist policies of President Trump” (Patel, 2017), in which international students have expressed concerns over feeling unwelcome and fearing discrimination. Thus, it is imperative for higher education institutions and campus departments to better understand the needs and challenges facing new international students as they arrive in the United States.

Caolfionn Yenney
Caolfionn Yenney is a full-time academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (UMTC). She is also a Ph.D. student at the UMTC in the Department of Organizational Leadership and Policy Development. Her research interests include understanding the student experience and retention of rural students in higher education, issues of LGBTQIA+ student equity, and the professional development of new employees in higher education, specifically women.

"Social Capital and Sense of Belonging: Exploring Assigned Academic Advising as a Retention Tool for Rural Students"
The purpose of this study is to explore how rural students experience assigned academic advising as a tool to develop social capital and sense of belonging in an urban college environment and the ways these experiences influence retention.

Jianyang Mei
Jianyang Mai is a Cultural Assistant at the Neighborhood Student Success Collaborative at Michigan State University (MSU). Mai is also a Doctoral Student, Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education at MSU.

"Why So Many First-Year Chinese International Students End Their First Semester on Academic Probation"
This study aims to identify the key factors in academic proficiency, institutional navigation, and socio-emotional engagement related to the poor academic performance of Chinese international students. With the findings, the research will also give recommendations on practices and interventions imperative to international student orientation programs and Chinese international student transition and retention.

Jordan Holliday-Millard & Emily Wheeler 

Jordan Holliday-Millard and Emily Wheeler both work in New Student and Family Services and the University of North Carolina Charlotte where Emily serves as the Director of the office while Jordan serves as the Assistant Director.

"Comparing the Effect of Orientation Programming's Delivery on First-Year First-Generation Students' Involvement, Engagement, and Connection to the University"
This study seeks to compare the experience and impact of our traditional paid two-day, overnight and free one-day sessions on the success of first-year first-generation students at UNC Charlotte. Through this study, we intend to develop best practices for first-year first-generation orientation that can contribute to student success, with suggestions for incorporation into existing programming.

Hongwei Yu
Hongwei Yu works as a Research Associate at The Center for Community College Student Engagement. His work centers on survey validation, web-based reporting, and descriptive and multivariate analysis of survey data.

"Exploring Factors Associated with Transfer Students' STEM Baccalaureate Completion"
Using data from Beginning Postsecondary Students. Longitudinal Study and hierarchical multinomial logit model, the proposed study will identify critical factors associated with STEM major community college transfer students’ probability of baccalaureate completion. Research findings will provide useful information on how to help these students complete a STEM baccalaureate and inform educational interventions and policymaking.

Kathryn Coquemont

Kathryn Coquemont is the Director of New Student and Family Programs and also a Ph.D. candidate, Educational Leadership and Policy and at the University of Utah.

"Southeast Asian American College Student Success & Retention"
Because of both the model minority myth and the lack of ethnicity-specific information, Southeast Asian American students are an underserved population regarding retention efforts on college campuses. The investigation addresses existing understandings of Asian American college students and the subsequent calls for ethnicity-level empirical research, particularly within Southeast Asian American communities


Click here for a list of the 2015-2016 Catalyst Grant recipients.

Click here for a list of the 2016-2017 Catalyst Grant recipients.

Examples of Grantee Research

If you have any questions, please contact NODA at

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