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Faculty Spotlight: Yi (Leaf) Zhang and Ernest Johnson, Spring 2014 Faculty Research Grant Recipients

Submitted by on May 15, 2015 – 8:44 amNo Comment
Yi (Leaf) Zhang

Yi (Leaf) Zhang

Today, we are spotlighting University of Texas at Arlington professors, Yi (Leaf) Zhang and Ernest Johnson. They were Spring 2014 Faculty Research Grant Recipients for their proposal, “Credit Recovery: Improving Student Graduation and Learning Experiences in an Online Master’s Degree Program.”

We are thrilled to share their findings and thank them for participating in our Faculty Research Grant Program. Below is the introduction of the study along with a link to the full report.


The number of students enrolling in online degree programs has been increasing in U.S. higher education in the past decades (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Online education has made learning outside the traditional classroom possible. It has also expanded access to higher education and created important learning opportunities for non-traditional students (Moloney & Oakley, 2010). However, educators and administrators of online programs face more challenges to improve student retention and

Dr. Ernest Johnson

Dr. Ernest Johnson

graduation rates. Numerous studies (e.g., Instructional Technology Council, 2009; Salazar, 2010; Terry, 2007) have found that retention and graduation rates in online programs are constantly lower than campus-based programs. One proactive approach to prevent students from dropping out is to implement credit recovery programs (CRPs) (Center for Innovation & Improvement). Although there is no single model for this type of intervention (Center for Public Education), CRPs provide students with additional opportunities (e.g., alternative courses) to gain credits for courses they may

have missed or failed. However, it remains unclear if CRPs increase student graduation rates and if it benefits students’ learning in an online setting. Thus, the purpose of this project was to explore the extent to which the CRP affects graduation of students in an online Master’s degree program and its impact on students’ learning.

Click here for the final report, “Credit Recovery: Improving Student Graduation and Learning Experiences in an Online Master’s Degree Program.”

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