CLSOR Research Fellows

Research is hard work, but like any challenging job well done, both the process and the results bring immense personal satisfaction. But research and its reporting are also social acts that require you to think steadily about how your work relates to your readers, about the responsibility you have not just toward your subject and yourself, but toward them as well, especially when you believe that you have something to say that is important enough to cause readers to change their lives by changing what and how they think.

~The Craft of Research**

Back in 2014, the inaugural group of CLSOR faculty research fellows kicked off the CLSOR research agenda.  Below are the original fellowship abstracts.  While many more fellowships have been completed since this time, we invite you to read about these first projects and reflect on how CLSOR fellowships started, and continue to enrichen, our community of scholars.  

Dr. Walker Karraa 

Center Research Project: Published: A grounded theory of the nature of successful peer-reviewed publication for mid-career scholars.

Dr. Walker Karraa is dedicated to the advancement of education scholarship and advanced leadership studies. A thought leader in higher education and media, she serves as the Media Review Editor for The Journal of Leadership Studies at the School of Advanced Studies. She is a Research Fellow for the Center of Leadership Studies and Educational Research. As faculty, Dr. Karraa serves as a Dissertation Research Chair for the School of Advanced Studies. As a methodologist, she pursues a deeper understanding of pragmatic philosophy through qualitative methodologies with a particular interest in grounded theory methods. She is currently advancing research regarding mid-career scholars and successful peer-reviewed publication. Dr. Walker Karraa is the Media Director for The International Marcé Society, and serves as Program Co-Chair for the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Trauma Division.

Dr. Lynne E. Devnew

Center Research Project: Women on boards lived experiences of women’s influential power and decision making on boards. 

Dr. Lynne E. Devnew is on the doctoral faculty for the University of Phoenix where she teaches online, facilitates a five day residence leadership class, and chairs doctoral committees.  She has her BS from Simmons College, her MS from Columbia University, and her DBA from Boston University.  Before pursuing her doctorate, she spent 23 years with IBM and was among the first women there to manage professionals.  She also coaches church leaders and serves on several non-profit boards.

Dr. Devnew’s doctoral studies focused on the strategic responsibilities of leaders.  Her dissertation, a comparative case study, was Interpreting the Implications of the Internet:  An Exploratory Study of CEOs in the Consumer Catalog Industry.  Her focus is now on women and leadership.  She co-chaired a discussion of women’s leadership development at the International Leadership Association Women and Leadership Affinity Group Inaugural Conference at Asilomar in 2013 and will be co-chair of the research stream Increasing Equality in Power and Decision-making at Asilomar in 2015.  A participant in the 2014 academic colloquium Advancing Theories of Women and Leadership at Utah Valley University, she and her team will be presenting Women’s Leader Identity Development: Traveling the Twisting Path at the International Leadership Association’s 2014 preconference follow-up workshop.

Dr. Russ Volckmann

Center Research Project: Language and action in leadership

Dr. Russ Volckmann has taught and served on dissertation committees in several universities, while at the same time serving as an organization development consultant and executive coach in many companies and organizations. He is the Publisher, of Integral Publishers, LLC, and of the Integral Leadership Review. He has published numerous articles and interviews related to leadership. The interviews have included CEOs of global corporations, executives, consultants and coaches, development professionals, academics and authors. Some of these have been published in a three volume series, Insights on Leadership. He is also the Co-author of Transversity: Transdisciplinary Approaches in Higher Education.

Dr. Jason Flora

Center Research Project: Doctoral mentoring through the lens of experiential learning

Dr. Jason Flora teaches introductory and upper-division courses in Humanities and the History of Art at Brigham Young University-Idaho, with particular interests in Italian Renaissance, the scholarship of teaching and learning and things aesthetic. His doctoral research, Adult Experiential Learning in Short-term Study Abroad: An Heuristic Study of the Power of Place, uncovered fresh intersections between experiential learning theory and andragogy within the dynamic backdrop of short-term study abroad programs. An active practitioner of experiential learning curriculum design/ implementation in the classroom and beyond, Dr. Flora coordinates the department’s growing internship program and regularly co-directs domestic and international travel study programs.

Dr. Erik Bean

Center Research Project: A University of Phoenix research center customer experience (CX) assessment study

Dr. Erik Bean
Research Fellow, Erik Bean, Ed.D. is in the process of developing a research study about customer experience (CX) and user experience (UX) that initially captures the content, messages, and interactions of the University of Phoenix Center for Leadership Studies and Educational Research (CLSOR ) offerings and the personas of its customers, University of Phoenix chairs and doctoral students. The purpose of this study is to take the Center from a default CX state developing a formative assessment and evaluation tool to a deliberate CX advantage for sustainable memorable experience improvements leading to customer advocates.

Dr. Carla Lane

Center Research Project: Reducing transactional distance through instructional design strategies and mentoring/coaching

Dr. Carla Lane

Dr. Carla Lane, Ed.D. has an extensive background in distance learning and evaluation of mediated educational programs.  She is Executive Director of The Education Coalition, a non-profit that provides educational evaluation services to districts, universities, and other entities requiring local, state and national evaluations.   She has been extensively involved in the education field through her research in distance learning. Her work has been published in many research reports and journals.  Lane was with WestEd for 15 years -a regional educational laboratory - as a senior researcher and project director of the Star Schools dissemination project - the Distance Learning Resource Network (DLRN).

The literature regarding dissertation student mentoring suggests that dissertation chairs are advanced in their content knowledge but may lack experience in facilitating the dissertation level student or acting as a mentor/coach for the student.  Dissertation chairs may be unresponsive to their dissertation level students which may result in the student’s dissatisfaction with the dissertation chair and with the university’s management oversight of dissertation chairs.  Such dissatisfaction may slow the student’s progress, requiring multiple enrollments in dissertation courses that may lead to higher attrition rates, fewer graduates, and potential financial aid default rates after three years. 

Two academic theories may contribute to improvement for dissertation chair working in the online environment which include transactional distance and situational management. Transactional distance (Moore, 2013) focuses on reducing the sense of isolation in distance learning environments by using techniques that increase the interaction between the instructors, students, and content.  Training in these techniques may reduce the transactional distance between dissertation chairs and their students. Situational management (Blanchard, 1985) allows management of students based on their competence and skill level using 4 quadrants ranging from least to most competent. 

In the least competent mode, the dissertation chair applies the most hands-on strategies and intensive work with the student.  In the fourth quadrant, less management is required. Because students progress in different areas at various paces, situational management allows the dissertation chair to be directive in the first quadrant for one competency and delegate/oversee work in the fourth quadrant for another competency.  For example, a student may be fully competent in writing the literature review but have little competence in the research design.  Situational management allows the dissertation chair to use varying instructional strategies depending on the student’s competence.

Dr. Gary A. Berg

Center Research Project: Case study on Latina/o and African American students in an online doctoral program: Understanding opportunities and challenges in the dissertation process and mentor relationships

Dr. Gary A. Berg

What are common challenges in and outside the classroom for Latina/o and African-American doctoral students? What are the characteristics and patterns observed in the mentor-mentee Latina/o and African-American doctoral student relationships?  How do Latina/o and African-American doctoral students evaluate the “value” of their degree?

Latina/o and African-American participation in doctoral programs nationally is low.  According to the NCES (Condition of Education 2012), of the doctoral degrees earned annually in the United States, only 7.4% are African-American and 5.8% Latina/o students.  Although rates are improving gradually, the lack of diversity in graduate programs nationally continues to be a significant problem, especially for the growing Latina/o population.  The University of Phoenix, with its mission of open access to high quality educational opportunities, serves an unusually large percentage of ethnic minority students.  The overall self-reported composition of the student body is 29% African-American, and 14.3% Hispanic (  As a result, the University has played a unique role in American higher education by opening access to doctoral degrees to traditionally underserved populations, and has a wealth of data available from which researchers can learn about specific obstacles for students, best practices, and potential directions for doctoral programs wanting to better serve students. 

Dr. Jim Lane

Center Research Project: A Synthesis of Research Describing the International Development of Professional Ethics Within the Field of Education

Jim Lane has spent nearly 40 years as an educator and writer.  He has worked as an English teacher, district supervisor, and middle school principal.  He teachers a variety of courses for UOPx in Communications and Education.   He also works with doctoral students through the School of Advanced Studies.  He has worked as a free-lance writer and has written more than 100 articles for various publications.  His articles have ranged from technical pieces and newsletters for businesses to profiles of national celebrities, including Joe Theisman and John Madden.   His research interests include ethical frameworks, ethical dilemmas, educators’ codes of ethics, autoethnography, narrative analysis, constructivism, school leadership, and middle school curriculum.

**Booth, W. C., Colomb, G. G., & Williams, J. M. (2008) The Craft of Research (3rd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press (p. 5).