The mission of the Collaborative Lab for the Advancement of Student Success (CLASS) is to engage researchers, practitioners, and leaders within and beyond Florida State University (FSU) to advance student success and equity at FSU and nationally. We at the CLASS will assess, evaluate, and identify effective policies, programs, and practices that can promote student success and equity in higher education and to document conditions in which such efforts can be implemented successfully on the ground. We aspire to build networks, partnerships, and collaborations to play a significant role in advancing the agenda for greater student success and equity.
CLASS in the News
FSU Collaborative Lab to promote nationwide student success and equity
Florida State University is working to enhance its record of student success and equity well beyond its campuses.
The Collaborative Lab for the Advancement of Student Success, or CLASS, represents a joint effort of the College of Education and the Division of Undergraduate Studies that answers a national call to strategically improve undergraduate education so that it advances equity and better serves a more diverse student body.
Dr. Shouping Hu
Dr. Shouping Hu serves as a co-director for the CLASS. He is currently the Louis W. and Elizabeth N. Bender Endowed Professor of Higher Education and the founding director of the Center for Postsecondary Success (CPS) at Florida State University (FSU). Dr. Hu’s research interests examine issues related to postsecondary readiness, outcomes, and success. Dr. Hu has published more than 80 journal articles and book chapters and is the author of five books. He has secured, in total, about seven million dollars in funding support from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Regional Educational Laboratory-Southeast (REL-SE), NPEC/AIR, and other sources. Dr. Hu has served as an editorial/advisory board member of Journal of Higher Education, Educational Researcher, Research in Higher Education, Review of Educational Research, and Journal of College Student Development. He is currently serving as the founding editor of Journal of Postsecondary Student Success and the associate editor for the policy section of Higher Education: Handbook of Theory and Research. He received a B.S. degree in Geography in 1992 from Peking University. He earned his M.S. in Economics (1998) and his Ph.D. in Higher Education (2000) from Indiana University Bloomington.
Dr. Joe O'Shea
Joe O’Shea serves as co-director for the CLASS. He is currently an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, as well as FSU’s Associate Provost and Dean of Undergraduate Studies. As Dean, Joe helps lead the university’s award-winning student success initiatives. Joe also serves in expert roles for the Institute of Education Sciences and co-editor of the Journal of Postsecondary Student Success. A Truman and Rhodes Scholar, he has a master’s degree in comparative social policy and a Ph.D. in education from the University of Oxford. Joe is the author of the book Gap Year: How Delaying College Changes People in Ways the World Needs, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and Doing College Right: A Guide to Student Success, published by Columbia University’s Teachers College Press. He is currently writing a third book, The Education They Deserve: Reimagining the College Learning Experience.
Dr. Toby Park-Gaghan
Dr. Toby Park-Gaghan serves as associate director for research for the CLASS. He is currently Associate Professor and Department Chair of Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at Florida State University where he also serves as associate director of the Center for Postsecondary Succes. Dr. Park-Gaghan's research utilizes quasi-experimental methods and large longitudinal student-level datasets to investigate student outcomes in postsecondary education. His research has been supported by nearly $7.5M in external grant funding from such organizations as the Institute of Education Sciences, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and the Regional Educational Laboratory-Southeast. Dr. Park-Gaghan is serving, or has served, as an editorial board for Journal of Postsecondary Student Success, Journal of Higher Education, Educational Researcher, and Innovative Higher Education. He is currently serving as associate editor for AERA-Open. Dr. Park-Gaghan received his B.S. in mathematics (summa cum laude) and his M.Ed. in Higher Education Management from the University of Pitsburgh, and his Ph.D. In Education Policy from Vanderbilt University.
Dr. Pei Hu
Dr. Pei Hu is a Research Faculty for the CLASS at Florida State University. Her research focuses on student success, leadership education, and international education in postsecondary education. Her previous work as a research associate at the Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice at Temple University evolved her research interests in basic needs insecurity, equity, and social justice issues in higher education. Pei has co-authored several articles as a member of the Center for Postsecondary (CPS) research team studying Florida’s developmental education reform and student success. She received her Ph.D. in Higher Education and a M.S. in Higher Education from Florida State University. She completed her B.A. in Chinese Literature and Linguistics at Jianghan University.
Dr. Monoka Venters
Dr. Monoka Venters serves as research faculty for the CLASS. Her research interests include postsecondary student success with a focus on low-income students, understanding the factors behind the development of education policy, and the legal aspects of higher education including federal policies designed to assist low-income students. Previously, Dr. Venters worked at the State University System of Florida Board of Governors as a senior policy advisor to the chancellor and the Board, a policy analyst in the academic and student affairs unit, and a research associate for the general counsel. She received a Ph.D. in Higher Education from Florida State University, a J.D. from Washington & Lee University School of Law, and a B.A. in English from Furman University.
Dr. James Hunt
Dr. James Hunt serves as the Director of Institutional Research at Florida State University where he leads the institution’s data reporting, faculty effort tracking, and student success research initiatives. He is engaged in the IR field at both the national level through the Association for Institutional Research (AIR) and regional level through the Southern Association for Institutional Research (SAIR), where he currently serves as Treasurer on the Board of Directors. Previously, Hunt worked in multiple Student Affairs roles at FSU, most recently as the Program Director for Strategic Planning & Assessment in the Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs. Hunt began his higher education career working in Fraternity and Sorority Life in the FSU Dean of Students Department. Hunt earned both his Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration at Florida State University, and his dissertation focused on the pricing effects of the Bright Futures Scholarship Program on tuition and fees among institutions in the Florida State University System. Hunt also earned his M.S. in Higher Education Administration at Florida State University, and he graduated with a B.A. in Political Science at Mercer University. Hunt’s research interests are at the nexus of state/institutional policies and student success. His work in institutional research focuses on creating actionable intelligence from data to better understand academic and co-curricular impediments and accelerants for student success.
Dr. DeOnte Brown
Dr. DeOnte Brown is an assistant dean of undergraduate studies and director of the Center for Academic Retention and Enhancement (CARE). In his administrative capacity, he leads a collection of programs and initiatives that support college access and success for students with traditionally underrepresented identities in higher education – first-generation, limited income, students of color. Dr. Brown’s current scholarship agenda focuses on the importance of a) identity-conscious support services (i.e. advising, coaching, mentoring) for the aforementioned student populations, b) impact of coordinated network of success services, and c) college-going and readiness among rural communities. His work experience related to student success includes development and teaching of transition to college seminars; coordinating living-learning communities; and administering retention and success focused programs. Dr. Brown has presented his work at state, regional and national conferences. He earned his doctorate in Learning Sciences from Clemson University in 2021 which he participated in the Context of Learning and Development (CLAD) Lab with Dr. Faiza Jamil. He also holds a B.S. in Public Administration and an M.Ed. in Education Leadership from University of Central Florida and Florida A&M University, respectively.
Dr. Allison B. Peters
Dr. Allison B. Peters is the Assistant Dean for Retention and Academic Engagement in FSU’s Division of Undergraduate Studies. Her daily work focuses on developing engagement programming and high-touch outreach initiatives that support undergraduate student retention and persistence in higher education. At Florida State University, Dr. Peters leads and serves on cross-divisional working groups that analyze university processes and the undergraduate student experience, seeking solutions to common barriers to re-enrollment. Research interests include college student success, leadership learning and education, online teaching and learning, and graduate student development and support. Her professional experiences in academic and student affairs include student retention, first-year student transitions, general education program administration, campus activities, and residence life.
Dr. Peters serves as a member of the University’s Graduation Task Force, Enrollment Management Group, Undergraduate Student Experience Strategy Committee, Family Weekend Committee, and Demand Analysis and Numbers Group which analyzes general education and gateway course availability. Nationally, Dr. Peters has reviewed manuscripts for the Internet and Higher Education. She is an active member of NASPA and NODA (Association for Orientation, Transition, and Retention in Higher Education). She is currently serving as the President of the FSU chapter of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
Dr. Peters teaches undergraduate teaching assistant preparation courses, preparing classroom peer mentors who support first-year students’ transitions to the university. She is also an adjunct instructor for the FSU Higher Education Program. Previously, she taught courses in leadership learning and education.
Dr. Peters earned her Ph.D. in Higher Education with an emphasis in Student Affairs from Florida State University in 2018, master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, and a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance from Wichita State University.
Dr. Samantha Nix
Dr. Samantha Nix is the Assistant Director of Student Success Analytics within FSU’s Office of Institutional Research. Samantha leads a team to develop internal datasets, analytics, dashboards, and research reports to help campus partners better understand postsecondary success outcomes for students they engage. Prior to this role, Samantha helped to develop the university’s academic early alert program. Her research has focused on college students' experiences with academic challenge and major choice. This work has been published in Frontiers in Psychology, Research in Higher Education, Journal of Higher Education, and Social Sciences. In 2016, Samantha was awarded a National Academy of Education/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship and P.E.O. Scholar Award. She earned her B.A. degree in English Literature and French from the University of Southern Mississippi and her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Higher Education Administration from Florida State University.
Research on Student Success
The CLASS team plans to develop a comprehensive inventory on student success programs and practices at Florida State University and examines the theory of change of those programs and practices and student success.
The CLASS team plans to identify existing and emerging student success initiatives to conduct rigorous evaluation and implementation studies and cost-effectiveness analyses of those initiatives for continuous improvement.
Books on Student Success
The CLASS team plans to develop a book series from a multidisciplinary perspective that can inform research, policy, and practices for student success in postsecondary education.