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Getting to know Mary Ellen Dello Stritto

OSU Ecampus Research Unit assistant director

Mary Ellen Dello Stritto, assistant director of the OSU Ecampus Research Unit

Mary Ellen Dello Stritto has worked for seven universities and colleges as a professional, a journey that has taken her from California to Ohio to Oregon.

It took one high school psychology class to kick-start Mary Ellen Dello Stritto’s lifelong interest in how humans behave. Her educational history and subsequent career in higher education are inextricably linked to studying and educating others on that behavior. And now as the assistant director for Oregon State Ecampus Research Unit, Mary Ellen combines that extensive knowledge with ample experience as a researcher to contribute to the field of online teaching and learning.

The bulk of her professional life has been spent as an educator, teaching psychology and gender studies. Mary Ellen holds degrees from three institutions spanning coast to coast: a B.A. in Psychology from SUNY Geneseo; an M.A. in Psychology from Appalachian State University; and a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.


By Tyler Hansen
Nov. 6, 2017

Hometown

Auburn, New York

When did you start working at Oregon State?

February 2017

What do you enjoy most about your job with OSU Ecampus?

“It has been exciting to learn a new field and apply my research background to online education. I am also really enjoying working closely with OSU faculty discussing research ideas, helping to design research protocols, assisting with survey development, and collecting and analyzing data. Working with faculty in different disciplines has given me insight into research in fields beyond my own.”

Research and psychology have factored prominently in your career, and human behavior is a key component to each. Is that part of what drives your interest in these fields?

“Yes. I can trace my interest in understanding human behavior back to my high school years. When I took my first psychology course in high school, I knew that was the field that I wanted to study. When I got to college and I took a social psychology course, I was very excited because the focus is on how we influence each other’s behavior.

“Since we are all social beings, it is hard to think of an area of life in which social psychology does not apply.”

Tell us about one of the research projects you’re currently working on.

“I am currently reviewing more than 20 years of research studies that have compared face-to-face, online and hybrid course delivery methods. The research unit is compiling these studies for a searchable database. If you are interested in research on the student outcomes in an online course versus a face-to-face course in a particular discipline, this database will allow you to search and retrieve research citations.”

“One of the many things I gained from (being director of a women’s center was) a broader view of the remarkable perseverance of students who succeed in college despite facing seemingly enormous obstacles.”

Having spent 16 years as a university professor, tell us the one thing you do NOT miss about teaching.

“One thing I do not miss are the dreams that I used to have when I was a professor. Often they were about losing my class notes and not knowing what to cover, or some were about my students completely ignoring me in the classroom. Thankfully, none of those fears were ever realized!”

You were previously the director of a women’s and family center at Western Oregon University. How did that experience help shape your worldview?

“I spent six years as the Director of Abby’s House, the campus women’s center at WOU. One of the many things I gained from that experience was a great appreciation for the selflessness and dedication of my student staff and volunteers who deeply cared about the well-being of the students we served.

“I also gained a broader view of the remarkable perseverance of students who succeed in college despite facing seemingly enormous obstacles.”

How can the work of the Ecampus Research Unit improve the experience for the people who learn and teach online?

“We have several specific examples from the original research conducted by the unit. The research unit conducted studies on closed captioning that showed that captions are useful learning aids for students regardless of whether or not they have disabilities.

“In a recent study, we found that instructional designers are a significant resource for faculty who want to conduct research on their teaching.  This research can ultimately improve the quality of instruction and overall student learning.”

You’ve worked at seven universities whose mascots were Beavers, Wolves, Cardinals, Fighting Scots, Broncos, Leopards and Bruins. Which one has been your favorite and why?

“The Beavers are the best because they are the most hardworking of all those mascots!”

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend?

“My perfect weekend is spent hiking on the Oregon Coast or skiing in the Oregon Cascades.”

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