DETA Subgrant Award Recipients Press Release


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 6 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).

The subgrant recipients are:

  • Baiyun Chen, Ph.D., University of Central Florida
    • Dr. Chen received an award to study 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 learner, course, and instructional characteristics, and students’ perceptions of learning outcomes and satisfaction.
  • Denise Stanley, Ph.D., California State University Fullerton
    • Dr. Stanley received an award to study whether student-produced, problem-solving videos enhance engagement and student success in an economics course.  Specifically, she will examine student behavior in response to the video component of the course and determine whether this influences student grades, attrition, and assessments.  She predicts that students involved in the video production are more engaged than students who are not and thus, will achieve a higher degree of success.
  • Kathryn Linder, Ph.D., Oregon State University
    • Dr. Linder received an award to investigate college students’ experiences with, and perceptions of, video captions.  In addition, she will examine the impact of captioning use on student learning, particularly for students with disabilities, adult learners, and first generation students.  She predicts that captions will facilitate greater learning among all students, including underrepresented students.
  • Dylan Barth, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    • Dr. Barth received an award to examine the influence of replacing a traditional textbook with a free, open textbook in an Introduction to Psychology course on student learning and success.  In addition, he will investigate the relationship of access and familiarity with technology, online course experience, self-directedness, online learning efficacy, and learner characteristics to student outcomes.
  • Mike Allen, Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    • Dr. Allen received an award to conduct 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.
  • Cali Morrison, Ed.D., Montana State University
    • Morrison received an award to investigate what motivates students to enroll in competency-based education programs for their postsecondary educational pursuits.  She also seeks to understand the relationships between enrollment motivations and learning and instructional characteristics.

The DETA Center’s research toolkit (, released October 1st, guided the subgrant proposals.  The toolkit is intended to facilitate cross-institutional research by sharing commonly defined variables, measures, and instrumentation.  

“Interest in participating as a partner of the DETA Research Center has far exceeded our expectations.  We are currently in the process of seeking additional funding to support researchers whose rigorous studies we were unable to support due to limited funding,” said Tanya Joosten, Co-Director of the National DETA Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Beyond those who have been awarded subgrants, several institutions have joined with the DETA Center to support their endeavor of conducting cross-institutional studies.  These researchers have partnered with the DETA Center to be data collection sites:

  • Kats Gustafson, Ph.D., San Diego Community College District
    • Dr. Gustafson is examining the influence of learner and instructional characteristics on student success.  She seeks to understand the impact of course design components (i.e., learner support, content, interactivity, assessment and evaluation) and student preparedness and readiness for online courses on student success.
  • Wendy Athens, Ph.D., Florida SouthWestern State College
    • Dr. 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.

Research is also being conducted at our grant partner institutions, including Milwaukee Area Technical College (Pam Holt) and University of Wisconsin-Extension and System.

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, visit their website at: You can also follow their updates on Twitter (@uwmdeta) and Facebook (/UWMDETA).

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