John Fink’s research seeks to uncover structural barriers within higher education that result in inequitable access to educational and economic opportunity for racially minoritized, low-income, and first-generation students. He focuses on how educational institutions can change to produce more equitable outcomes, and he prioritizes applying findings to inform efforts to improve community college effectiveness.
Fink uses national and state administrative data to study high school student access and acceleration into college, relationships between community college student outcomes, course-taking patterns, and program of study, and the effects of Guided Pathways reform on student success. Fink led analysis and co-authored with Davis Jenkins the 2016 Tracking Transfer report presenting new metrics and national findings on state and institutional transfer performance. He subsequently co-authored the Transfer Playbook detailing the essential practices of high-performing transfer partnerships. In 2017 he was lead author on a national study of community college dual enrollment students which tracked former dual enrollment students into postsecondary education and provided national and state-by-state outcomes. His work was recognized by the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Students with the Transfer Champion-Catalyst award in 2019.
Fink's research has been published in the Journal of Higher Education, Community College Review, Journal of American College Health, Journal of Student Affairs Research & Practice, New Directions for Student Services, and the NASPA Journal About Women in Higher Education. He holds a certification in data visualization with D3.js from Metis Data Science Institute, an MA in college student personnel from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a BA in psychology and sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.