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IES Grant

Title: The Learning and Engaging at a Distance (LEAD) Initiative
Center: NCER Year: 2023
Principal Investigator: Byrne, Virginia Awardee: Morgan State University
Program: Early Career Development and Mentoring Program for Faculty at Minority Serving Institutions      [Program Details]
Award Period: 3 years (08/01/2023 – 07/31/2026) Award Amount: $399,747
Type: Training Award Number: R305B230015

Mentors: Diehl, William; Rone, Tracy R.; Sekayi, Dia; Shalka, Tricia; Veletsianos, George; Weintrop, David

Purpose: In this project, the principal investigator (PI) will conduct a program of research on the use of trauma-informed teaching practices in online learning environments to improve academic outcomes of Black and African-American college students and a set of career-development activities to support the PI's long-term education research goals. Since 2020, Black and African-American students who attend college in the United States have an increased likelihood of experiencing one or more traumatic events, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Research has found that many trauma-affected students struggle to engage in traditional school activities, direct their effort and motivation, authentically participate in classroom discussions, and persist to graduation. To support trauma-effected postsecondary students, educators could adopt trauma-informed teaching practices. The PI's research will explore how evidence-based models of trauma informed online teaching (TIOT) may benefit students taking online classes at historically black colleges and universities as measured by student outcomes and perceptions. Specifically, this project will answer the following questions:

  • How do TIOT practices relate to student outcome variables among HBCU undergraduates?
  • How does that relationship differ for students with higher or lower levels of self-directed effort, if at all?

To support this program of research, the PI will participate in mentoring and training activities to develop further expertise in trauma-informed teaching, online teaching, research methods (multi-level modeling, data analytics, computational methods), and science communication.

Research Plan: The PI will examine TIOT practices within online college courses and student achievement and persistence by exploring the following:

  • the extent to which faculty enact the TIOT practices in their online courses
  • students' perceptions of TIOT practicesand their relationship to other measures of online teaching effectiveness and course quality
  • how student achievement and persistence outcomes relate to enactment of TIOT practices and how that relationship is moderated by effort regulation
  • the influence of course-related and student-related factors on student outcome variables
  • faculty perceptions of TIOT practices after being provided with an aggregate report of their students' survey responses.

In phase 1, the PI will conduct a pilot study among five faculty who meet the selection criteria to clarify and refine the data collection process, conduct preliminary psychometric analysis of the survey instruments, and develop reliable codebooks. During phase 2, the PI will recruit 20 faculty members and the students enrolled in their online courses to participate in qualitative and quantitative data collection including faculty- and student-facing surveys, course observations, interviews, and focus groups. This data collection procedure will be repeated during phase 3 with a new cohort of 20 faculty. The PI will  analyze the data using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches to address the specific research aims. The PI will disseminate findings as well as the survey tools. Additionally, the PI will coordinate faculty development programs and teaching workshops to bring together faculty and future faculty to share findings and discuss TIOT in practice.

Career Plan: The PI's career development plan includes activities that aim to further develop scholarly expertise and knowledge in grant writing, research project management, quantitative and computational methodological, and science writing skills to translate findings to policymakers, educators, and faculty developers. To accomplish these goals, the PI will participate in meetings with mentors and a methodological consultant, evidence-based trainings on trauma-informed practices, advanced statistical training workshops, faculty development programs, science writing workshops, and national conferences.