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Collaborative Research Highlighted in Showcase

Research Showcase

McBee faculty and students participated in a research showcase for prospective PhD students on Friday, March 1. Four research teams shared ongoing projects, delving into the design, methodology, and even some preliminary research findings.

Tracking in Colleges and Universities

Amy Stich, Sean Baser, Hunter Jones, and Ananya Malik discussed their ongoing work into tracking along the P20 pipeline. Tracking, or providing additional opportunities to more successful students or those students with higher perceived potential, reinforces racial and class-based inequities by privileging one set of advantaged students for special enrichments.

The project began in 2019 with Stich and Baser launching an extensive literature review. Studies of tracking in K12 have been well represented in the literature since the 1970s. This work fills a gap as scholarly work focused on postsecondary is much less common. Stich is a major voice in this subfield.

In addition to first-year students Jones and Malik, who joined in fall 2023, doctoral candidate Colin Case has also played a significant role in the study for several years and continues to contribute remotely.

Jones and Malik appreciated the valuable coding experience in MAXQDA. Malik noted that she was familiar with historical research, but the mixed methods project has really expanded her comfort with qualitative research. The team will present a paper at the 2024 AERA conference.

UBelong Collaborative

Carlie Cooper works closely with Rob Toutkoushian on a multi-year, grant-funded study of success and persistence in postsecondary economics and science courses. The collaborative project includes researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, Cornell University, Purdue University, and University of California Irvine along with the Toutkoushian and Cooper at UGA.

Initial work was primarily qualitative as the team interviewed students previously enrolled in targeted courses to understand which parts of the curricula they found most challenging and how they persevered. Those interview responses were used as building blocks to create a narrative for instructors to share with incoming classes to normalize the struggle and provide proven strategies. The team then compared end-of-term scores among sections that received the intervention guidance and those that did not.

According to Cooper, the team has found significant improvements among students from underrepresented in the treatment sections when compared against students in control sections.

Cooper joined the collaborative to focus on funding models for intervention programs, but she shared how she gained experience conducting focus groups and interviews, analyzing survey data, and engaging in on-going assessments of project design and refinement.

State Postsecondary Institution Reauthorization Survey

Sean Baser and Mónica Maldonado have worked with Erik Ness on a foundational project, funded by Lumina, to create a comprehensive reauthorization landscape for all fifty states. In addition to McBee graduate students, the team includes five undergraduate researchers.

Baser described how the team systematically has reviewed synopses and reports from state governing bodies to develop an inventory of the varied processes in place across the United States.

Baser stressed that their work is extremely timely as the federal government is considering drastic changes to federal regulations that could effectively end the agreement that created a national standard for certifying distance education programs, NC-SARA. The extensive inventory tool has been cited by government working groups and advocacy organizations during rulemaking deliberations.


Krystal L. Williams and a team of three McBee graduate students, Ijaz Ahmad, Will Walker, and Imani Callan, and two UGA undergraduates are exploring ways to build persistence among Black women in computing sciences. Funded by a large multi-year NSF CAREER grant, awarded to Williams in 2023, the Computing Sciences Education Research Team (C-SERT) is conducting mixed methods research to identify persistence tools as they track levels of role strain and psychosocial risks experienced by Black female students.

Ijaz Ahmad, Will Walker, and Imani Callan shared how research planning has evolved and progressed since summer. The team worked closely with test volunteers to review and gauge the efficacy of survey questions before launching into a more robust qualitative phase of the work.

In addition to the research, the project also is building a virtual community space for Black women in computing sciences (ETHER-net Noire) to meet and support each other. The project will also create a documentary to widely communicate the challenges and resiliency of these women.

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Doctoral Student
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