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.
Deborah Lewis, Ph.D., Ed.D., C.N.E., co-PI (CON)
Julie James, M.L.I.S., co-PI (Library)
Amber Cook, M.M., co-PI (Writing Center)
Amy Bakke, M.A., co-PI (Writing Center)
Academic writing is challenging in an individual’s first language and even more challenging when it happens in a second language. These challenges are both academic and social in nature and can delay a student’s academic progress leading to frustration. The literature describes challenges and solutions in traditional academic settings, but there is little to no literature that addresses multilingual students in an online asynchronous doctoral learning environment. As many as 15% of Walden doctoral students identify as having English as a second language. As a group of interprofessional researchers, we have come together to validate our unique observations on the challenges faced by these students. The purpose of this grant is to identify the nature of the academic writing challenges faced by multilingual doctoral students. We will use a qualitative methodology to best understand the students challenges and identify strategies to support the academic experience. Once IRB approval is obtained, multilingual doctoral students will be invited to participate in interviews. Participants will be recruited from a private Facebook group that identifies members as Walden PhD/EdD/DBA students. We are using a private Facebook group to reduce the potential feelings of coercion or grading bias that might occur through recruitment in the academic setting. This group is also unique as it contains students as well as alumni. The data collection instruments for this study will be semi-structured, open-ended interview questions that align to the literature and the problem identified. Words, concepts, and themes will be identified to provide an understanding of the interview data. The outcomes of this grant will provide recommendations regarding student-centered resources including resources to raise faculty awareness and improve understanding and support for multilingual doctoral students. We plan to disseminate our results to interprofessional audiences to share our new knowledge and insights to support multilingual doctoral student success.
Jamie Patterson, EdD, co-PI (RWRCOEL)
Belinda McFeeters, PhD, co-PI (RWRCOEL)
Many of the critiques of the EdD center on students understanding how to model the research-practice skills needed for educational leaders in the field. Walden COE student and alumni data show skill gaps around K-12 LO11) Designing research to address educational problems, LO1) Applies knowledge of current research/trends in education and in higher education, LO5) Facilitate continuous improvement within higher education settings, and LO8) Design research to address educational problems and contribute to the profession. The purpose of the proposed research is to conduct a formative evaluation of a potential new residency offering for doctoral students in the Riley College of Education and Leadership that would immerse scholar practitioners in a shared collaborative research project during a 5-day residency from proposal through IRB approval, data collection, analysis of findings, and preparing the findings for presentation and publication. The study will be grounded in social practice theory, Lindsay et al.’s professional development framework, and the leader-scholar community framework. Data for the formative evaluation will be collected through one-on-one interviews with 8 to 10 student participants, surveys post-session and post-residency, and through observations. The plans for analysis include theory-driven embedded approach of ongoing, interactive assessments of student progress and understanding to continuously update and adjust the program as needed. Although the goals and objectives for this formative evaluation are centered around COE students, the hope is to collect enough data to support the replication of the residency in other programs. One objective of the formal research residency, should it be implemented, is to further Walden’s mission of social change by focusing on community-based research needs as topics for collaborative research residencies. Not only would the research residency provide an essential educational experience for our novice Walden researchers it could also provide much needed information to community partners who might not otherwise have the opportunity to gain the insights and information research can provide. A formative evaluation is the essential first step in bringing the concept into the Walden student experience.
Patricia Thurmond, Ph.D., co-PI (RWRCOEL)
Beate Baltes, Ed.D., co-PI (RWRCOEL)
Andrea Wilson, Ph.D., co-PI (RWRCOEL)
Students are failing the first milestone in their capstone journey, the prospectus review. As a solid research plan is the basis for a successful doctoral program completion, the College of Education and Leadership attempts to offer the support and guidance that students need at the beginning of this journey under the assumption that a solid research plan will increase the probability that students will complete their doctoral program. Therefore, the EdD program leadership decided to give doctoral students early access to designated experts from the Program Director Review Team (PDRT) in planning research studies by assigning them to teach the pre-prospectus course “Demystifying Doctoral Writing in Research” where students are expected to produce a document with an aligned problem, purpose, possible research question(s), and an idea of the study methodology. This course is scheduled to be taken one or two semesters before students begin their actual capstone journey. The early guidance in the pre-prospectus course would be provided by the same faculty that are reviewing the actual prospectus in the Program Director section of MyDr, the university’s document management system. Approximately 8 months after the PDRT, deidentified archival data from the University’s records system would be to answer the research questions that aim at measuring the differences in number of days from committee initiation to Program Director prospectus approval as well as the number of Program Director prospectus rejections between students who took the pre-prospectus course in the fall of 2020 taught by a variety of faculty members and students who took the pre-prospectus course in the fall of 2021 taught by the PDRT. Two ANCOVAs will be conducted. Depending on the results of the quantitative analysis, additional qualitative analysis is considered.