Research News

Ask an Expert: How can students catch up after falling behind during COVID-19?

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruptions in learning for students and has accelerated the need for school administrators, teachers and parents to develop best practices for helping students to make up for missed coursework or failed classes. Many students are using online options to catch up, with supplemental support from teachers, but questions remain about how well these online credit recovery approaches are working.  

Carolyn J. Heinrich is chair of the Department of Leadership, Policy and Organizations and Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Public Policy and Education at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development. She has a secondary appointment as professor of economics in the College of Arts and Science. Heinrich’s research focuses on education, workforce development, social welfare policy, program evaluation, and public management and performance management. 

Her recent scholarship includes a forthcoming article in The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, which looks at the longer term labor market outcomes of students who engaged in online vs. traditional classroom offerings of credit recovery. She also published a study of online course-taking that presents findings from quantitative and qualitative research on how students used the course-taking system; this article won the 2020 American Educational Research Association Palmer O. Johnson Memorial Award for best article. A third journal article examines the effects of online course-taking/credit recovery for high school graduation and post-secondary education outcomes.  

She is co-author of “Equity and Quality in Digital Learning: Realizing the Promise in K-12 Education,” in which she offers her perspective on why credit recovery is taking on a new focus during the pandemic. 

Vanderbilt University faculty are sharing their expertise on a range of topics related to the pandemic.  View the series and subscribe to Vanderbilt’s “Ask an Expert” series on YouTube to get the latest updates.