Sandra Dika

Sandra Dika

Educational Leadership
Cato College of Education, Mebane Hall 274

Curriculum Vitae

Sandra Dika is Professor of Educational Leadership (Research Methods) at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Sandra earned degrees in elementary education and human ecology from the University of Alberta (Canada) before receiving her Ph.D. in Educational Research and Evaluation from Virginia Tech. Sandra’s scholarship contributes to discussion about the utility of prevailing theories of higher education access, engagement, and success to represent the experiences of students from underrepresented and underserved groups; including students of color, first-generation college students, and transfer students; that increasingly make up the college student body in the United States. Her research has appeared in Research in Higher Education, Journal of College Student Development, Journal of College Student Retention, Equity & Excellence in Education, Journal of Research in Science Teaching, and others. She received the 2014 UNC Charlotte College of Education Award for Excellence in Research (with colleagues Mark D’Amico and Bob Algozzine). Sandra serves on the editorial advisory board of the Journal for Applied Educational Research and Practice (JAEPR) and has served on the board of the North Carolina Association for Research in Education (NCARE) since 2012, most recently as President (2016-17). Previous to her academic role at UNC Charlotte, Sandra served for over 7 years in the research and evaluation field as Research and Evaluation Specialist for the Education Alliance at Brown University and Assistant Research Professor of Institutional Research and Assessment at the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez.

Research Interests:

  • Higher education access, engagement, and success, particularly:
  • Persistence and attainment of underrepresented and marginalized groups in higher education
  • Participation, engagement, and success in STEM higher education
  • Contexts of middle and high school success
  • Research, evaluation and assessment support


Ph.D. – 2003, Virginia Tech, Educational Research and Evaluation
M.Sc. – 1996, University of Alberta (Canada), Human Ecology
B.Ed. – 1993, University of Alberta (Canada), Elementary Education (with honors)


  • Interactions with educators as social capital for underrepresented engineering majors (co-PI with J. Martin)
  • Investigating the role of interaction, attitudes, and intentions for enrollment and persistence in engineering among underrepresented minority students (National Science Foundation Research
  • Initiation Grant in Engineering Education, co-PI with M. Pando & B. Tempest)
  • An exploration of quality and degree of student engagement in urban high schools using HSLS:09 (co-PI with B. McMahon)
  • Engagement and academic success of first-generation STEM majors and transfer students at UNC Charlotte (co-PI with M. D’Amico, B. Algozzine, T. Elling, & D. Helget)
  • Dimensions of student engagement in the Spanish translation of the NSSE: A confirmatory factor analysis approach (PI)