The Mixed Methods Blog

Perspectives from our researchers, highlights from recent studies, and other news about CCRC

CCRC Affiliate Di Xu Recognized for Her Research With Major Grants and Awards

Di Xu, Assistant Professor, University of California, Irvine. National Science Foundation CAREER Grant Winner

Di Xu, an assistant professor at the University of California, Irvine, and a CCRC research affiliate, has been awarded a five-year CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support her research into online STEM courses.

The five-year, $655,237 grant will fund Xu’s research in the Virginia and North Carolina community college systems looking at instructional approaches in online STEM gateway courses and promising strategies for improving student engagement and learning in fully online coursework. The research grew out of Xu’s earlier work at CCRC that identified high mid-semester withdrawal rates and low performance in semester-long courses with fully online delivery formats.

The CAREER grant is one of NSF’s most prestigious awards for early-career faculty who “have the potential to serve as academic role models in research and education and to lead advances in the mission of their department or organization.”

In addition to the NSF grant, Xu received the Distinguished Assistant Professor Award for Research from UC Irvine’s Academic Senate for 2018–19 and was one of 30 scholars nationwide selected for the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. With data from both two- and four-year colleges, Xu will research the impact of different types of college instructors on students’ academic and labor market outcomes.

Xu earned a PhD in economics and education from Teachers College, Columbia University, and worked as a researcher at CCRC while pursuing her doctorate. Her research uses experimental and quasi-experimental designs to examine the impacts of postsecondary educational programs and policies on college students’ educational outcomes, with a particular focus on students from low-income and underrepresented groups.

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