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May 25, 2015 05:41 PM EDT

UC Davis Receives Grant To Research Online Learning


The University of California, Davis will launch a three-year study of online learning with a $1.6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education's Institute of Education Sciences.

The study, which focuses on kindergarten to 12th grade virtual learning in Florida, will explore how online learning options affect students' course progression, academic achievement and teacher effectiveness. Virtual schools have expanded rapidly in many states, and Florida has the nation's largest K-12 virtual education sector.

"We will also ask the students about the support they receive from teachers, such as feedback and encouragement," Cassandra Hart, assistant professor, said in a statement. "And we will ask teachers about the support they receive from administrators, such as curricular materials and real-time coaching."

Hart will work with Susanna Loeb, of Stanford University, and Brian Jacob and Brian Rowan of the University of Michigan on the study.

They will examine data for virtual and face-to-face schools in Florida from 2003 through 2014. In addition, they will collect additional data through surveys from students and teachers in the Florida Virtual School and from students and teachers at Miami Dade County Public Schools.

They believe the results will help "policymakers and school personnel understand how virtual classes affect achievement, which students are likely to benefit and avenues for improvement," school officials said.


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