Diane Dancer's areas of research and interest are in economics education research, limited dependent variables, applied econometric modelling, demography and international comparisons using cost functions.
Diane's economics education research uses econometric techniques to predict educational outcomes and the implications for universities with respect to policy issues. The major research area is to model the performance and progression of first year students. One aspect of this research involves investigating the characteristics of different groups of first year students. For example, are the characteristics of the students who discontinue and the students who continue but ultimately fail the course significantly different? This research was presented at the 4th Pacific Rim First Year in Higher Education Conference at the Queensland University of Technology, 2000.
Other aspects are to attempt to identify the key characteristics that distinguish between successful students and those who are not successful in a course and to investigate whether performance in different but closely related courses is affected by different student characteristics. This last example involves first year students in Economics and Econometrics. A current project, involving students in a Commercial Law course, investigates whether, for first year students, the Universities Admission Index is the best predictor of success in a course compared with the English marks from the Higher School Certificate.