Student Behaviors and Perceptions and Student Outcomes

The National Distance Education and Technological Advancement (DETA) Research Center, funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), has awarded subgrant awards for research examining key factors influencing student success in distance education. These grants support a range of projects, including research focused on the influences and outcomes of students who are underrepresented in distance education research (e.g., racial/ethnic minorities, first generation college students, and students with disabilities).

These studies address the DETA Research Questions: What patterns of behaviors lead to increased student learning for different populations? These studies examine students behaviors and perceptions, such as interactivity, social presence, engagement, and more, that influence student outcomes such as learning. Findings enhancing our understanding of process variables and their influence on student outcomes later influencing process instrumentation and course design based on influence process variables.

Florida SouthWestern State College. Wendy Athens is conducting a study to examine the relationship between student perceptions of social and academic interactions and student success for underrepresented students.  She predicts that student success will be increased by a student’s perception of social interaction and academic challenge in the classroom.  Specifically, she is focusing on the role of communication, social presence, learning community, and engagement.  As a data collection site, this institution has joined the DETA Research Center to support our endeavor of conducting cross-institutional studies.  Note: University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee will be participating in this cross-institutional study.

University of Central Florida.  Baiyun Chen is studying the influence of course design components on students’ perceptions of learning, particularly for students with disabilities. Approximately 5,000 students from 32 online and 54 blended science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses will be invited to participate in a survey that addresses student behaviors (academic challenge, interactivity, and activity learning) and the relationships to learning outcomes and satisfaction.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Mike Allen is conducting a meta-analysis of research examining active learning in online courses.  Specifically, he will examine the impact of inclusion of active learning approaches on affective and cognitive/behavioral learning.  He hopes that this analysis will provide insight into whether existing evidence sustains the argument for employing active learning techniques in online courses.

All institutions are welcome to partner with the DETA research team in its efforts to advance research on student success in distance education.  Interested parties should contact the DETA center for more information:

To learn more about the National DETA Research Center, follow their updates on Twitter (@uwmdeta) and Facebook (/UWMDETA).

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