The Wabash Study, which began in the fall of 2006, includes 49 colleges and universities to date. This is a longitudinal study that investigates critical factors affecting the student outcomes of a liberal arts education through both institutional and student data. The Study tracks growth at two or three points during a student's college experience, in their freshman and senior year. Among the outcomes examined are critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, and diversity. The results provide evidence from which to develop the support necessary to help liberal arts institutions systematically improve student learning and enhance the impact of their programs.
URI participated in the Wabash Study in the 2007 and 2008 academic years. Hundreds of freshmen voluntarily took part during the first round in 2007, and in the spring 2011 semester, nearly 50% of that first cohort returned as 4th year students to complete the study. In 2008, over 1,200 freshmen participated. In spring 2012 this second cohort of seniors, was asked to return to participate. Approximately 200 students were offered incentives for participating: 50% off the cost of their cap/gown OR $10 on their Ram card.
Throughout the years that URI has hosted the Wabash Study, faculty and staff support has been instrumental to success by promoting participation through personal appeals to students in through academic programs and advising.