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Title: Student Experience with COVID-19 and Online Learning: Impact of Faculty’s Ability to Successfully Navigate Technological Platforms for Remote Instruction
This paper is based on a series of semi-structured, qualitative interviews that were conducted with students, by an undergraduate student and lead author of this paper, that focused on their experiences with educational technologies and online teaching pedagogy in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As U.S. educators scrambled to adapt to online course delivery modes as a result of the first wave of the pandemic in the spring 2020 semester, those in the educational technology and online learning community saw the potential of this movement to vastly accelerate the implementation of online systems in higher education. A shift that may have taken 20 years to accomplish was implemented in two waves, first with the immediate forced shift to online learning in March 2020; and second, a less immediate shift to hybrid and online instruction designed to accommodate the different geographic variation in COVID-19 intensity, along with varied political and institutional ecologies surrounding online versus in-person instruction for the 2020-2021 academic year. With all of the rapid changes that were occurring during the spring of 2020, we wanted to investigate how students experienced and perceived faculty use of technology during this particular moment in time. This study documents this transition through the eyes of undergraduate students, and demonstrates the varied ways in which faculty navigated the transition to online learning. According to our interviewees, some faculty were thoughtful and competent and provided a supportive environment that paid attention to a students’ capacity for online learning, rather than maintaining traditional instructional practices. Others relied on practices from in-person instruction that were familiar, but appeared to be nervous in the new online teaching environment. Then there were those who seemed occupied by other concerns, where a focus on effective undergraduate teaching remained limited to begin with, and their approach to online instruction was driven by convenience. Our qualitative data clearly reveals that the ways in which faculty conducted their online courses directly impacted student learning experiences. In this study, we set out to document both the faculty instructional strategies in a hybrid/online environment and student accounts of those choices and their resulting experiences. While we continue to analyze this unique data set on this moment of transition in engineering education, we hope that this paper will also lead to policy recommendations regarding faculty adaptations to online instruction in general. We include some initial thoughts and recommendations below.  more » « less
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ASEE annual conference exposition
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National Science Foundation
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