FUNDED PROJECTS

Current Funding

Grant: National Research Foundation EHR Core Research Award

Award: $2,466,374

Time Frame: 2019-2024

Primary Investigators: Claire Wladis, Alyse C. Hachey, Katherine M. Conway, and Christopher Rhoads

Title: Investigating Whether Online Course Offerings Support STEM Degree Progress

This research project will investigate whether online courses provide increased access to college and STEM degrees, particularly for students typically underrepresented in STEM fields. Annually, between 28% and 36% of all post-secondary students in the U.S. enroll in at least one online course. The growth in online course enrollment contrasts with an overall decline in college enrollment. Thus, continued online course growth will have an escalating impact on degree progression and attainment. Online course-taking is widely adopted at community colleges, which have large populations of first-generation college students, low-income students, female students, students of color and non-traditional students. As a result, online courses at community colleges may have disproportionate impacts on the degree completion of students from groups that have been underrepresented in STEM fields. To support an innovative and productive national STEM workforce, access to STEM careers must be available to the entire, diverse U.S. talent pool. The aim of this research is to explore whether limited access to online courses hinders degree progress for STEM majors, particularly those from underrepresented groups.

The assumption that online courses enable non-traditional students with work and family responsibilities to enroll in more courses has never been rigorously tested. This project will: 1) explore the relationship between online course availability and academic momentum (the number of credits in which a student enrolls) and STEM persistence, with a particular focus on "non-traditional" students; 2) explore the role of student time poverty (i.e. quantity and quality of time available for college) in mediating these patterns; and 3) explore scarcity of alternate course sections as a potential moderating variable in explaining these patterns. No large-scale studies to date have explored whether the availability of online courses increases access to, or momentum through, college or STEM degrees. This project will collect data on 22,000 City University of New York (CUNY) students and will make causal inferences by using: 1) a simulated course registration system to create a within-subjects experimental design; and 2) student placement on course waitlists to conduct a regression discontinuity design. CUNY's student population mirrors the groups traditionally under-represented in STEM: largely non-white, female, and low income, as well as a large proportion who are non-native English speakers and first-generation college students. This project is designed to provide critical information to practitioners and policymakers about how to balance the dual concerns of access and retention when offering online courses.

The end product of this research will be a logistic regression equation (or a straightforward recipe for institutions to follow to create their own institution-specific equation) which can be used to pinpoint students at highest risk of dropping out of online STEM courses (or college subsequently), so that effective support services can be targeted at the most at-risk students. This research will not only advance STEM and higher education research, but it will also potentially transform educational practice and policy. These results will impact students considering online courses, faculty designing and teaching online courses, staff implementing online student support structures, administrators determining policies about student access to online courses, and policymakers determining how and when to include online courses in programs to increase student access to, and success in, STEM disciplines.

Previous Funding

Grant: National Research Foundation EHR Core Research Award

Award: $719,108

Time Frame: 2015-2018

Primary Investigators: Claire Wladis; Alyse C. Hachey and Katherine M. Conway

Research Associate: Dr. Anthony Picciano- Professor of Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center

Research Assistant: Diane McAllister

Advisory Board: Dr. Frances K. Stage - Professor of Administration, Leadership, and Technology at New York University; Dr. Lin Lin - Associate Professor of Learning Technologies at the University of North Texas

Title: Can Student Characteristics Be Used to Effectively Identify Students At-Risk in the Online STEM Environment?

This project addresses the EHR Core Research (ECR) program’s goal to build a research foundation in STEM learning environments by investigating which factors predict poorer outcomes online vs. face-toface for STEM students, with a particular focus on traditionally underrepresented groups in STEM fields. Specifically, this research is motivated by the following questions:

The assumption that online courses enable non-traditional students with work and family responsibilities to enroll in more courses has never been rigorously tested. This project will: 1) explore the relationship between online course availability and academic momentum (the number of credits in which a student enrolls) and STEM persistence, with a particular focus on "non-traditional" students; 2) explore the role of student time poverty (i.e. quantity and quality of time available for college) in mediating these patterns; and 3) explore scarcity of alternate course sections as a potential moderating variable in explaining these patterns. No large-scale studies to date have explored whether the availability of online courses increases access to, or momentum through, college or STEM degrees. This project will collect data on 22,000 City University of New York (CUNY) students and will make causal inferences by using: 1) a simulated course registration system to create a within-subjects experimental design; and 2) student placement on course waitlists to conduct a regression discontinuity design. CUNY's student population mirrors the groups traditionally under-represented in STEM: largely non-white, female, and low income, as well as a large proportion who are non-native English speakers and first-generation college students. This project is designed to provide critical information to practitioners and policymakers about how to balance the dual concerns of access and retention when offering online courses.

Grant: Internal Research Award

Award: $278,981

Time Frame: 2015-2018

Primary Investigators: Claire Wladis, Alyse C. Hachey and Katherine M. Conway

This project is concerned with assessing factors that impact the course and college completion rates of students at BMCC and CUNY in order to inform eLearning policy. The research will support the creation of a CUNY dataset specific to online courses at the university, with information about the percentage of instruction conducted online, as well as variables related to online programs at each campus. This project will also support analysis on CUNY-wide data and some more general NCES data in order to identify factors that may be influencing online enrollment and course outcomes at BMCC specifically and further, to compare patterns at BMCC to national and CUNY-wide trends. The research will use logistic and ordinary linear regression models, along with propensity score matching and sensitivity analysis, to analyze the impact of student characteristics and eLearning program structures and policies on online course and subsequent college outcomes.

Grant: CUNY Fellowship Award

Award: $74,860

Time Frame: 2014-2015

Primary Investigators: Claire Wladis, Alyse C. Hachey and Katherine M. Conway

This project is concerned with assessing factors that impact the course and college completion rates of students at BMCC and CUNY in order to inform eLearning policy. The research will support the creation of a CUNY dataset specific to online courses at the university, with information about the percentage of instruction conducted online, as well as variables related to online programs at each campus. This project will also support analysis on CUNY-wide data and some more general NCES data in order to identify factors that may be influencing online enrollment and course outcomes at BMCC specifically and further, to compare patterns at BMCC to national and CUNY-wide trends. The research will use logistic and ordinary linear regression models, along with propensity score matching and sensitivity analysis, to analyze the impact of student characteristics and eLearning program structures and policies on online course and subsequent college outcomes.

Grant: Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst/ German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Research Visit Grant for Faculty

Award: $9,255

Time Frame: Fall 2014

Title: Online course-taking, access, and persistence in higher education in the U.S. and Germany

Grant: American Educational Research Association (AERA) Research Award

Award: $25,000

Time Frame: 2012-2014

Title: Online STEM Students At-Risk: Building a Model of Online STEM Student Retention at the Community College

Grant: CUNY Community College Collaborative Incentive (C3IRG) Research Grant

Award: $15,000

Time Frame: 2012-2013

Title: An Investigation of Prior Experience and Course Type as Factors Affecting Online STEM Student Retention and Success

Grant: BMCC/CUNY Faculty Development Grant: Factors Determining Online Student Enrollment

Award: $3000

Time Frame: 2013

Title: Evaluation of a Large-Scale National Dataset

Grant: PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B

Award: $5125

Time Frame: 2013-2014

Title: The Role of Self-Selection in Online Student Persistence at the Community College: Are Restrictive Enrollment Policies Justified?

Grant: PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B

Award: $5462

Time Frame: 2012-2013

Title: Using a Binary Logistic Regression Model to Identify Online Courses in Greatest Need of Supplemental Student Support

Grant: PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B

Award: $2800

Time Frame: 2012-2013

Title: Examining Minority Student Success in Online STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) Courses

Grant: PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B

Award: $4512

Time Frame: 2011-2012

Title: Assessing Online Students at Risk: Building a Better Predictive Model for Online Course Attrition

Grant: PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B

Award: $4512

Time Frame: 2011-2012

Title: Investigating Trends in Online Attrition to Optimize Student Success

Grant: PSC CUNY Research Award, Traditional B

Award: $4000

Time Frame: 2011

Title: Assessing Online Students at Risk: Building a Better Predictive Model for Online Course Attrition

Grant: BMCC/CUNY Title V Faculty Research Grant

Award: $4000

Time Frame: 2011

Title: Investigating Trends in Online Re-enrollment, Retention and Success

Grant: BMCC/CUNY Title V Faculty Research Grant

Award: $4000

Time Frame: 2011

Title: Access & Success: The Traditionally Underrepresented Student in Online Learning