Office Hours with John Gardner featuring Brent Drake

Episode 76- Research for Student Engagement

Office Hours with John Gardner

Learn how data and research can be used to help underserved students. Brent Drake shares how this goal influences his work and research findings that can provide opportunities to build student engagement.


Brent Drake,  has worked in higher education since 2001 with positions focused on institutional research, educational assessment, business intelligence, and institutional effectiveness. He has published and presented refereed conference sessions on research on student success initiatives, gateway course redesign, predictors of individual student success, enrollment management, business intelligence and data analytics, enrollment and student completion predictive modeling, recruitment, and enrollment trends. This includes co-authoring chapters on gateway courses in Talking About Learning Revisited: Persistence, Relocation, and Loss in Undergraduate STEM Education, and The Transfer Experience: A Handbook for Creating a More Equitable and Successful Postsecondary System, on data visualization in Building Capacity in Institutional Research and Decision Support in Higher Education, and on business intelligence and data analytics in New Directions for Institutional Research. He also was honored, along with his co-authors, with the Charles F. Elton Best Paper in Institutional Research in 2019 for their journal article on the signally effects of first-year seminar grades in The Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition. 

Dr. Drake holds a baccalaureate degree in athletic training, a master’s degree in sports Psychology, and a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology with a joint focus on psychometrics and motivation theory all from Purdue University. He also taught for several years at Purdue, providing instruction in statistics, measurement theory, research methods, and motivational theory. He presently also serves as a Senior Research Fellow for the College of Education at Claremont Graduate University in California.

Prior to joining the full-time staff of the Gardner Institute, Dr. Drake served as a Research Fellow for the Gardner Institute conducting research on the relationship between the Institute’s institutional transformation efforts and student outcomes such as course grades, retention, persistence, and graduation. His most recent position prior to the Gardner Institute was as the Vice Provost for Decision Support at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas where he served for five years, and prior to that he worked at Purdue University for nearly 17 years ultimately serving as the Chief Data Officer for the final five years of his tenure.

He has served on serval relevant boards and committees including on the Executive Board of the Indiana Association of Institutional Research, a member of the inaugural University Innovation Alliance, the Indiana Postsecondary Data Access Group, and the Minority Serving Institutions Task Force at UNLV. Drake also served for seven years as a reviewer for The Journal of the First-Year Experience & Students in Transition.

Dr. Drake resides in Lafayette, IN with his wife Maria Drake and near his son, daughter-in-law and two granddaughters. He enjoys reading, playing guitar, and intends to play pickleball until his knees cease to function.

To contact Brent, please email him at