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Apply for the Online Teaching and Learning Research Seminars program

To ensure a diverse range of perspectives and contexts, participants in the research seminars program will be selected from a range of institution types and disciplinary backgrounds.

Seminar description

The second cohort of the research seminars program is invited to apply the technique of meta-analysis to synthesize published research studies in online education.

Meta-analysis is set of procedures that are used to combine and compare the results of multiple studies on a particular topic. The goal of meta-analysis is to statistically combine the data from selected studies to determine if there is an overall effect and assess the magnitude of the effect.

Meta-analytic techniques have been used in many disciplines such as medicine, psychology, criminology, business, and education. The results of these meta-analyses have had impacts on treatments, policies, and procedures in these fields (Bornstein et al. 2009). As online/distance education has grown in the past 20 years, meta-analysis has been applied to some of the most fundamental questions in the field such as: is there a significant difference in the learning outcomes for students taking online courses compared to traditional face-to-face courses? The most widely cited meta-analysis was published by the US Department of Education in 2010; it concluded there was no significant difference in outcomes for students in online courses versus face-to-face courses.

However, meta-analyses take time and resources, which can be a factor in the lack of these studies in the literature. For example, while there have been synthesis reports on the efficacy of online learning (e.g. Lack, 2013), in developing our Online Learning Efficacy Research Database, the Ecampus Research Unit staff were unable to locate any large-scale, meta-analytic studies in this area since 2013.

We think meta-analyses can be significant in the advancement and progress of research in this field. Administrators, faculty, and staff continue to ask questions about the effectiveness of online and hybrid education, emerging tools and technologies related to online learning, and various pedagogical approaches. Meta-analysis has the potential to suggest answers to these questions and there is an ongoing need to use meta-analytic techniques to better synthesize the research in the area of online teaching and learning.

The goal of the seminars program is to facilitate collaboration within diverse cohorts of scholars and practitioners in higher education. We invite scholars and practitioners with an interest in meta-analysis, and representing a range of disciplines, to apply.


Borenstein, M., Hedges, L. V., Higgins, J. P. T., & Rothstein, H. R. (2009). Introduction to Meta-Analysis. John Wiley & Sons.

Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., & Baki, M. (2013). The effectiveness of online and blended learning: A meta-analysis of the empirical literature. Teachers College Record, 115(3), 1-47.

Lack, K. A. (2013, March 21). Current Status of Research on Online Learning in Postsecondary Education. Retrieved from

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development (2010). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C. Retrieved from


  • Mary Ellen Dello Stritto Mary Ellen Dello Stritto, PhD, Director, Ecampus Research Unit
    Oregon State University

Mary Ellen Dello Stritto, PhD, is the director of research for Oregon State University Ecampus, where she is involved in the design and implementation of research studies on online education. She manages and oversees the statistical analysis for the unit. She also directs the OSU Ecampus Research Fellows Program and edits a yearly white paper series. Her background is in psychology with a specialization in quantitative methodologies, survey design and statistical analysis.

  • Andrew Walker Andrew Walker, PhD, Department Head and Associate Professor of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences
    Utah State University

Andrew Walker, PhD, is the department head of Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences at Utah State University. He is a self-described quantoid who likes to use statistical approaches, like Bayesian network meta-analysis and multi-level modeling so that his research can reflect more of real world than a clinical setting. He is also broadly interested in problem centered pedagogies and systems that support learning.


Application timeline:

  • Due date: Nov. 30, 2019
  • Notification date: Dec. 18, 2019

To apply to be a participant in the program, complete the application and additional materials described below. In addition to an abbreviated CV and letter of support from a department/unit head, applicants are also required to include the following information:

  1. Research interests
    Describe your interests in this year’s seminar topic including any specific area of this topic that you are most interested in examining. Note: we are not asking for specific research questions since those will be developed during the program. (200 words max)
  2. Professional experience
    Describe how this year’s seminar topic fits within your existing professional/scholarly work? (200 words max)
  3. Methodology

    Describe your background and experience in the following areas:

    1. Research methodology
    2. Statistical analysis
    3. Meta-analysis

    (300 words max)

  4. Institutional context
    1. Describe your position within the context of your institution.
    2. Describe your involvement with online teaching and learning at your institution.

    (150 word max)

  5. Unique contributions
    Describe your unique expertise and/or experience that you would bring to the study of this year’s seminar topic. (200 words max)

Apply now


Please direct your questions about the ECRU Research Seminars application to Mary Ellen Dello Strito, director of Ecampus Research Unit.