Center for Research Quality
Christy Fraenza, PhD, co-PI (Academic Skills Center)
Janine Allwright, PhD, co-PI (Academic Skills Center)
The Academic Skills Center at Walden University currently employs students to serve in peer support positions as tutors or mentors, providing essential academic and social support to other online learners. While research has indicated such roles benefit both the giver and receiver of support, there is little known about the experiences and expectations among online learners serving in these positions. Given the continued focus on online learning it is vital to understand the experiences of individuals providing peer support exclusively online. Therefore, the goal of this qualitative case study is to explore the experiences of online students who hold or have held a student position with the Academic Skills Center with the primary responsibility of providing peer-to-peer support. This proposed study aims to gain an understanding of why online students choose to apply for a peer support position, how their experience aligns with their expectations, what they value about the role, and how the role has impacted them academically, professionally, and personally. Data will be gathered through structured interviews in Microsoft Teams with current and previous student employees who held (or are currently in) a peer-support role focused on these research goals. The interviews will be recorded and transcribed before researchers analyze the data to identify and interpret themes. The overall objective of this study is to gain insights into the online peer-tutoring and peer-mentoring experience to aid in the recruitment and development of student workers for future online peer-to-peer positions and to contribute to the body of research in this area.
Barbara Schirmer, EdD, co-PI (Richard W. Riley College of Education & Leadership)
Alison Lockman, PhD, co-PI (Center for General Education)
The purpose of this research is to explore the characteristics of culturally responsive teaching reflected in the responses of instructors within discussion forums in fully online undergraduate general education courses at Walden University. The goal of the research is to identify qualities of faculty pedagogy in online instruction that address the needs of diverse learners and have the potential to improve achievement and satisfaction among students who are vulnerable for discontinuing college enrollment. As culturally responsive teaching is intended to nurture and support cultural competence while supporting students academically, the aim is to identify the characteristics that reflect culturally responsive teaching in the instructors’ discussion forum posts, characteristics of culturally responsive teaching that are absent in their posts, and characteristics of posts that do not reflect culturally responsive teaching. The methodology will be an exploratory qualitative design. Purposive sampling will be used to select instructors who taught a humanities course, social sciences course, written and oral communication course, and math and natural science course offered in enough sections during spring term 2020 that we could identify a minimum of four distinct instructors for each course for a total of 16 distinct instructors overall. The discussion forums for the first and second to last week will be selected as the data sources. Deidentified data will be provided by the Institutional Approver. Data analysis will involve deductive and inductive qualitative coding. For deductive coding, an a priori scheme developed for a previous study will be used. For inductive coding, cycles will reflect the phases of open coding, axial coding, and selective coding. To address potential issues of trustworthiness, strategies will be employed to assure credibility, transferability, dependability, and confirmability.