New Report: Research Review of EdTech and Student Success for Racial and Ethnic Groups

WCET and the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) announce today’s release of a new joint report: “Research Review: Educational Technologies and Their Impact on Student Success for Racial and Ethnic Groups of Interest.”

publication release: Research Review of EdTech and Student Success for Racial and Ethnic Groups. with deta and wcet logos.


The events of the past year highlighted the inequities faced by those who have traditionally not been served well be institutions or by society as a whole. In discussions among WCET members and staff, we could list several suggestions for remedies. But which of them to recommend? We believe actions should be evidence-based.

As a result, we contacted Tanya Joosten of DETA. She and her group are premier researchers in the use of educational technologies in higher education. WCET contracted with DETA to conduct a review of recent research on educational technologies and student outcomes for students of racial and ethnic groups.

Purpose, Objective, and Target Population

The purpose of the review is to identify institutional, instructional, and learning practices mediated by educational technology that positively influence the success of certain racial and ethnic groups of American students, including students who identify as Black, African American, Hispanic, Latinx, Latino or Latina, American Indian, Alaskan Native, Indigenous American, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander. The rationale for the review is to better understand what recent and relevant research-based practices in the educational technology field can be replicated and scaled across postsecondary education in the United States (U.S.) to create equitable and inclusive learning experiences. The objective of this research is the identification of practices and/or interventions that are positively influencing student outcomes (e.g., access, learning, grades, course completion, satisfaction, persistence, and others) for the population of interest to encourage implementation across the WCET community.

purpose of Research review report, pg. 2


The research was guided by these four questions on how to better serve and to improve the learning effectiveness for students from the target populations:

  1. What can administrators do better?
    1.  What instructional-level practices, such as student and instructional supports, can be implemented that are proven to improve student access and success?
    1. How can offering student services through supporting improvements in instruction and/or through education technology help improve equity in education?
  2. What can instructors and instructional support staff do better?
    1. What course-level and instructional practices and interventions create inclusive opportunities for learning and are proven to better serve students?
  3. What can student support staff do better?
  4.  What can all stakeholders do better?


There is more to the methodology in the report, but it is important to note that only peer-reviewed studies were selected that were published over a recent nearly three-year period. Also, “peer-reviewed studies were selected for inclusion based on the presence of a series of a key terms search related to race and ethnicity and a term related to education technology, such as digital learning or online learning.

Unfortunately, there were fewer studies that we had hoped. Even so, the report has recommendations for different higher education populations. Below are the categories with a sample recommendation for each…

Administrators and Staff

“…institutions should avoid choosing the traditional solution of investing in more student support services, such as tutoring, without robust investigation into their current institutional structures that may be impeding the success rates of all students. Sometimes the solution is not *more* student support services, but, rather, a re-envisioning of the current institutional structure and cultural norms characterizing that structure in its entirety (see Benitez, 2010).

Faculty and Instructors

“faculty should consider a more culturally inclusive curriculum when possible.”


showing the steps students should consider
Behaviors that positively influence student success in online learning. Graphic from report, pg 19.

“The existence of the digital divide has become even more evident in the response to COVID-19. It is particularly evident when students are removed from institutional student housing.
Students should have access to technology, broadband, and an effective learning environment.”

Upcoming WCET Webcast Discussing Research Review

speaker photos for the may 20 webcast

Join us on May 20th for member-only webcast featuring Dr. Tanya Joosten and Dr. Cherise McBride (Lecturer, Literacy and Technology, University of California, Berkeley) for a discussion of the research review.

Russ Poulin
Executive Director, WCET    @russpoulin

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My name is Lindsey Rae Downs. I am the Assistant Director of Communications and Community for WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. I work remotely from beautiful Helena, MT.

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