See also: Causal Inference in A Nutshell, and this example using Instrumental Variables to evaluate First Year Programs, as well as my previous discussion of matching estimators here and here.
And this really good presentation: Why Propensity Score Matching should beused to Assess Programmatic Effects by Forrest Lane at the University of North Texas.
Below are some great references for both higher education research as well as good
examples of applied quasi-experimental methods, particularly propensity
Estimating the influence of financial aid on student retention: A discrete-choice propensity score-matching model
Education Working Paper Archive
January 17, 2008
Serge Herzog, Ph.D.
Director, Institutional Analysis
Consultant, CRDA StatLab
University of Nevada, Reno
Estimates the effect of financial aid on freshmen retention using propensity score-matching.Found that higher income students accrue a retention benefit from financial aid while retention of low-income freshmen is more likely due to academic
Assessing the Effectiveness of a College Freshman
Seminar Using Propensity Score Adjustments
M. H. Clark and Nicole L. Cundiff
Res High Educ (2011) 52:616–639
Without accounting for selection bias, those who took the course had similar retention rates
and lower GPAs than those who did not take the course. After matching on propensity
scores, the negative effects of the program on GPA were nullified and those in the program
were more likely to enroll for a second year.
An, B. P. (In press). The influence of dual enrollment on academic performance and college readiness: Differences by socioeconomic status. Research in Higher Education. 2012.
Employed a propensity score matching model to assess the impact of dual enrollment
on academic performance and college readiness. Found that dual enrollment continues to
influence positively academic performance and college readiness.