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University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies leaders contribute to 2023 OLC Accelerate event dedicated to quality online learning


By Sharla Hooper

Fellows of the Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research present on student belonging and value of online degrees for women of color

University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies’ Center for Workplace Diversity and Inclusion Research (CWDIR) fellows scholars join the proceedings of the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Accelerate Conference, contributing sessions on topics including student belonging and value of an online degree. The 2023 conference theme is “Creating Connections: Uniting Learners through Collaboration and Creativity,” and taking place virtually October 3-5, 2023, and onsite October 24-27 in Washington, D.C.

“OLC Accelerate is a great forum where our scholars can showcase projects highlighting the critical roles of belonging in student success,” states Kimberly Underwood, Ph.D., chair, CWDIR. “Online education offers unique opportunities for equitable and inclusive learning, and we are pleased to convene with other thought leaders on important considerations for working adult learners.”

Presentations by University of Phoenix scholars include the following:

·       Sandra Sessoms-Penny, Ed.D., and Joy Taylor, Ed.D., both fellows of CWDIR, presenting, “Examining The Value And Utilization Of Earning An Online Degree For Women Of Color,” on Wednesday, October 4. This narrative inquiry examines how women of color value earning and utilizing their bachelor’s degree and how they were supported in the online environment, and explored how earning a bachelor’s degree contributed to their representation in higher education, career and personal goals attainment, and representation in the workplace.

·       Marlene Blake, Ph.D., and Adrian Allen, DBA, fellows of CWDIR, and Patricia Battson, DM, Academic Research Analyst, Resolutions Services at University of Phoenix, with research, “Empowering Educational Leaders To Help Students Thrive By Building Belonging And Social Capital,” presented by Blake in an asynchronous discovery session. The study identifies influences of sense of belonging for non-traditional undergraduate students of color attending an online institution, and participants will learn best practices that empower educational leaders (faculty, staff, administrators) to reinforce resources encouraging engagement, strengthen social capital opportunities, and build belonging for online non-traditional students of color.

The summit includes a focus on leadership, research, instructional design, and blended learning, with content created by and for online education practitioners, instructors and researchers. OLC is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner.

Learn more here about the OLC Accelerate Conference.

About University of Phoenix

University of Phoenix innovates to help working adults enhance their careers and develop skills in a rapidly changing world. Flexible schedules, relevant courses, interactive learning, skills-mapped curriculum for our bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and a Career Services for Life® commitment help students more effectively pursue career and personal aspirations while balancing their busy lives. For more information, visit