Research Support through the Miami University Regionals E-Campus Fellowship Program

Concurrent Session 6

Brief Abstract

The Miami University Regional E-Campus Research Fellowship program supports and promotes faculty scholarship on topics related to online learning. Fellows receive support from the fellowship planning team which includes experienced faculty as well as E-Campus administration and staff from grants and development and the library. 


Tom Mays is an Associate Professor of Commerce at Miami University where he teaches courses in business software and small business innovation. He also serves as the Miami University Regional E-Campus Research Fellows Coordinator. Professionally, Tom started T.A.M. Communications in 1997, less than two years after receiving his undergraduate degree in communication from Ohio University. His business initially focused on media production but quickly grew to include technical support services for corporate events, interactive media and web development, and online data collection and analytics. Tom has traveled the country as technical director and a lead computer and video engineer for several major corporations. Tom completed graduate degrees at Wright State University including an MBA and a Master of Science in Social and Applied Economics, and he earned a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of Dayton where he studied social capital development in post-secondary education.

Extended Abstract

Started in 2016, the Miami University Regional E-Campus Research Fellowship program supports and promotes faculty scholarship on topics related to online learning. The need for a research support program emerged as the Miami University regional campuses markedly expanded our offerings of online courses and degrees. With the increase in online courses, programs, and faculty teaching online, E-Campus recognized an opportunity for supporting the scholarship of online teaching and learning, and created the E-Campus Research Fellowship program.

The session will include a brief overview of the program processes, examples of successful fellowship projects, and an overview of the next phase of the program which involves seeking research collaborations with scholars from other institutions. Thus an important reason for bringing this topic to an Emerging Ideas session is the opportunity to meet attendees and discuss the fellowship program as well as discover opportunities for collaboration.

Program Description

Those faculty seeking a fellowship submit a research proposal for review by the planning team led by the E-Campus Research Fellowship Coordinator (the session presenter). Interested faculty apply in the spring semester with a new cohort selected each year. In addition to faculty who apply directly to the fellowship program, faculty who are engaged in an E-Campus Faculty Learning Community (E-FLC)can enter the fellowship program after completing their E-FLC project.

The program has a structured but flexible format. After selection to the program, the fellows meet with the planning team and the coordinator to discuss the fellow’s project ideas. Next, the fellows complete a statement of work form to kick off their projects. Twice a year, fellows submit an update report to the planning team, and when a fellow completed their project, they submit a final report.

Throughout the term, fellows receive support from the planning team which includes experienced faculty as well as E-Campus administration and staff from grants and development and the library. Fellows attend semiannual meetings with the planning team and their cohort members to discuss research progress and areas for collaboration and support. Fellows also are encouraged to meet one-on-one with the program coordinator with questions and concerns.

Specific areas of support include Institutional Review Board (IRB) guidance, Qualtrics and SPSS training and consulting, and feedback on research methods, data collection, and more. Additionally, fellows receive help on identifying dissemination opportunities including conferences and journals.

Example Fellowship Research Topics

The following are project topics that fellows have completed or are in the process of completing.

  • Collective Feedback Studies in Online Writing Instruction
  • Social interactions in a newly launched online pre-k teacher program
  • Using reflection and Agile methods to improve group projects
  • Redesigning online discussion forums to enhance cognitive presence
  • Online learning satisfaction/experience
  • Service Learning in online courses

Program Benefits

Research fellows are highly encouraged to present their findings (and research in progress) on campus as part of the Miami University Regionals opening day workshops at the beginning of each academic year. Since the fellows’ topics are directly related to online teaching and learning, they apply to a wide variety of faculty meaning that new technologies, practices, and approaches that emerge from research projects directly benefit the campus community. This local impact is a critical aspect of the fellowship program. Additionally, fellows are encouraged to present their findings at a conference and/or submit their work to an academic journal. These dissemination activities can help pre-tenure faculty improve their scholarship portfolio as well as provide a wider audience for their work.

Goals for Emerging Ideas Session

  • Share the structure and processes of the program with interested parties from other institutions
  • Discuss how the program could be implemented at other institutions
  • Meet faculty who have an interest in collaborating on future research projects.