The Identity Pathways Project (IPP) is an NSF-funded longitudinal research study focused on how emerging adults negotiate the experiences and transitions during the course of college as well as the changes that accompany leaving college. The study is being conducted by three researchers with a long and fruitful history of collaboration, and with expertise in developmental topics of this life stage, including personality and identity development, as well as relationships. 

In 2013 we began the IPP with the Haverford College class of 2017. We have since added participants from the Haverford class of 2019 and the Western Washington classes of 2018 and 2019. We will be following all participants through college and beyond. These two institutions are quite different – a small, private liberal arts college and a mid-size, public university. By including students at both institutions we will be able to investigate what individuals at these two schools have in common and where they differ in developmental concerns and trajectories.

Our approach to research is broad. We include surveys scales measuring a range of psychological dimensions as well as open-ended questions that allow individuals to express themselves more freely. We value both types of methodologies because together they paint a fuller picture of the person. We are particularly interested in the intersection of various kinds of experiences, such as academic growth and interpersonal relationships, and how those intersections help explain various pathways of development through college. Specific research questions we aim to address include:

  • What factors facilitate persistence in science and math-related career paths, especially for women and members of underrepresented groups? 
  • How do individuals change and their romantic relationships progress across the college years? 
  • How do both academic and relationship experiences contribute to identity development and well-being during college?