Quasi-experimental What?: Increasing Your Research Literacy

Concurrent Session 3

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

When was the last time you took a research methods course? This session will provide an overview of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research questions and designs using examples from distance education studies. Participants will leave with ideas for how to more critically consume research in the field.


Dr. Katie Linder is an avid writer and researcher with a passion for process and peeking behind the scenes at what it takes to be a successful academic. Currently, Katie directs the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit and serves as an associate editor for the International Journal for Academic Development. She is also the creator of the Radical Self-Trust Podcast Channel and the host of a weekly interview-based podcast called Research in Action. She writes a weekly essay series called The Academic Creative. Her most recent book is Managing Your Professional Identity Online: A Guide for Faculty, Staff, and Administrators.

Extended Abstract

As the field of distance education continues to develop, research has become an increasingly important component. Here are just a few examples of the current roles of research:

  • Studies continue to be conducted on the efficacy of online and blended learning in a range of disciplines

  • Vendors make claims of product efficacy that require an understanding of research design and methodology

  • Faculty request support for research studies of their online and hybrid teaching experiences

  • Grant funding to support technology development and innovation is often tied to a rigorous research design

  • Data from a range of software solutions now make more research possible to help meet students’ needs and create environments that will support student success

Research has become a part of the day-to-day work of distance education administrators and leaders, instructional designers, student support staff, and faculty teaching online and hybrid courses. However, the research literacy of stakeholders in the field including administrators, staff, faculty, and vendors, may need additional insight into types of rigorous empirical research methodologies. Given the wide range of stakeholders that make-up a successful distance education endeavor, it is not surprising that some come to the field without a background or training in research methods and design. Certain stakeholders may have never take a research methods course, may have a lack of exposure to common data analysis methods (for example, statistical methods), or may have never conducted research themselves.

Session Outcomes

After attending this session, participants will be able to:

  • Briefly define the aims of qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies

  • Differentiate between qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods studies in distance education

  • Match a research question to an appropriate research design

  • Find resources for additional study in research methods and design

  • More critically consume research in the field of distance education

Session Outline

The facilitators will facilitate an interactive icebreaker to learn more about what kinds of issues and challenges brought the participants to the session and to demonstrate why research literacy is an important component of our toolkit.

Participants will then engage in an interactive quiz to better gauge their understanding of research methods and design terminology.

Participants will then break into groups and, with the assistance of facilitators when needed, offer an overview of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research designs and identify potential research questions for each. When reporting out, facilitators will provide specific examples from the distance education literature.

After this overview, participants will break into pairs and complete a matching activity to assess their understanding of the session content.

Participants will also receive a glossary of common research terms and will have the opportunity to ask questions throughout throughout the session. At the end of the session resources for further study will also be provided.


This session is designed for those who are novices in research methods and design, or for those who need a refresher after some time away. K-12, Higher Ed, and Industry professionals will all benefit from this session.