CEE Research

Insights from Spring 2020 Remote Instruction: Results from surveys on remote learning and teaching

CEE conducted parallel surveys of students, instructors, and TAs after the first-ever quarter of remote learning in Spring 2020. The goal was to find what practices, resources, and tools were most helpful for successful emergency remote instruction. Instructors and students agreed that engagement was the greatest challenge of remote instruction, followed by equitable assessment and stress or personal challenges.

Student Accessibility and Attrition in Online Courses

Online courses have been described by supporters as equivalent to face-to-face courses for students who successfully complete them. Unfortunately, students generally complete online courses in reduced rates compared to face-to-face courses. To examine this phenomenon toward buttressing students’ online course persistence and success, we are examining student access, attitude, and attrition in a popular general education course. This mixed-methods study tracks student persistence, and surveys students who withdraw to understand the primary reasons for their decisions.

Student Choice and Outcome in Online Courses

Because online courses increase convenience and remove pressures of transportation and scheduling, they are often touted as a means to increase equitable access to higher education. However, in recent studies, the outcomes of students enrolled in fully online courses tend to be poorer than those of their face-to-face counterparts. With this project, we seek to understand  whether online courses preferentially attract, and then disadvantage, underserved student demographics--thus functioning as an “access trap” to vulnerable student populations.

Equity Project

There is a widely-studied equity problem in academia: students from different demographic groups have different outcomes in terms of both grades and completion rates, and these differences are often robust to controls for preparation and academic ability. We have examined the patterns in these inequities and learned that they are far more powerful for students who intersect multiple under-served groups such as first-generation students who are also from underrepresented minorities.

Avenue E

As part of a project to support transfer students from under-represented groups in engineering, we investigated the historical experiences of transfers in the UC Davis College of Engineering using three measures of academic success: the probability of graduating in two years or less, the probability of having a 3.0 or higher GPA with at least 13 units in their fourth quarter, and GPA at graduation.

Workload 57

Developmental education is under review at many institutions after some recent studies have found that some pre-requisite courses may discourage more students than they help. We are investigating the Workload 57 course at UC Davis to determine the accuracy of the placement exam, the effects of the writing instruction on later success in other writing-intensive courses, and the overall effects the system had on equity of opportunity for different groups of students. Particular attention is devoted to the experience of international and English Language Learner students.

Exploring Learning Motivation in Engineering Writing Coursework

While educators and employers agree that today’s engineer needs to write well, they are often concerned that undergraduate students might not be on the same page. A common perception inside and outside the engineering community is that our students are unmotivated in their writing classrooms and unmotivated to write in general. This perception has a pronounced effect on the design of engineering writing education, as well as how writing is presented to students.