Research in Instructional Characteristics 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 are course components (content, interactivity, and assessment) that influence student learning? These studies examine course and instructional components in one of three broad categories – content, interactivity, and assessment – that influence student outcomes such as learning. Findings inform course and instructional design.

California State University Fullerton.  Denise Stanley is studying 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.

Oregon State University.  Katie Linder is investigating 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.

San Diego Community College District.  Kats 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. As a data collection site, this institution has joined the DETA Research Center to support our endeavor of conducting cross-institutional studies.

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 learner, course, and instructional characteristics, and students’ perceptions of learning outcomes and satisfaction.

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Dylan Barth is examining 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.  Note: UWM Online separately funded research at UWM to align with the DETA Research Center efforts.

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).