Lina Heaster-Ekholm awarded a Graduate School Dissertation Grant

Graduate School Dissertation Grants. The Graduate School at UMass Amherst offers dissertation grants in a campus-wide, competitive process for doctoral students.  These are prestigious awards that are very competitive. 


Lina Heaster-Ekholm is a doctoral student in International Education. Her research interests lie at the intersection of culture and learning with the goal of developing effective instructional design practices to meet the needs of global online learners. Despite evidence of the role cultural norms play in shaping learning processes, culture is rarely a consideration in the design and facilitation of online courses. This has the potential to disproportionately affect the academic success of international students enrolled in U.S. online higher education courses.


Lina’s proposed dissertation research involves a multi-round Delphi approach to engage experts from three domains in education: online learning design, culturally responsive pedagogy, and teaching international students, in a consensus building process.  The outcome of this study will be a list of instructor competencies that can be used to create training resources for instructors, inform quality assurance rubrics, and shape future research.