'How Teaching Changed'
New survey documents how professors view this spring's mass move to virtual courses. Key findings: most used new teaching methods, half lowered their expectations for the volume of student work -- and a third for its quality.
It will be some time before we know the full impact of the COVID-19-induced shift to remote learning this spring -- how it altered the arc of students' academic careers, for example, or affected the extent and nature of their learning. But we now have some early data on how it reshaped instructors' teaching practices.
survey released today
by Bay View Analytics (formerly the Babson Survey Research Group) and its president, the digital learning researcher Jeff Seaman, offers some insights into the transition that virtually all colleges, instructors and students undertook this spring as the novel coronavirus shut down campuses across the country.
The survey largely reinforces, with data, our collective anecdotal impression that higher education has engaged in a wholesale, sudden shift to remote instruction, and that instructors adapted how they go about teaching in the transition.
The data bring into especially sharp relief, however, the reality that instructors significantly altered their expectations for students and for themselves, changing or cutting back on assignments, lowering their expectations for both the amount of work students do and, to a lesser extent, the quality of that work. The study surveyed 826 faculty members and administrators at 641 American colleges and universities this month, as many institutions began to wind down their instruction for the interrupted academic term. Five organizations collaborated on the survey (see box at right), and Cengage funded it.
Some of the survey's scene-setting results won't be particularly surprising.
It finds, for instance, that the vast majority of institutions (90 percent) engaged in some form of emergency distance/virtual education to conduct or complete the spring term; those that did not were typically colleges that already were exclusively online, or in the few areas in the country where shelter-in-place orders were not in force.
Similarly, three-quarters of instructors (76 percent) reported that they had to move some of their courses online to complete the term. Again, the remaining instructors were those who were already teaching fully online or whose courses were canceled or suspended because of the pandemic.
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What I Love about Teaching
Here is Dr. Christopher Beckham's response to the question "What I love about teaching?"
"There's an old Latin proverb that says docendo discimus. It means "by teaching, we learn." So, first and foremost, I enjoy being a teacher because it both requires and allows me to continue to learn. I believe one of life's great joys is learning new things. Next, I enjoy teaching because it allows me to be see my students make discoveries, gain new perspectives, and deepen their own learning in their chosen field of Education. When the classroom is a place of inquiry, discovery and discussion, it can be "one of the most exciting places on earth," as Jesse Stuart wrote in The Thread That Runs So True. I believe he was right."
by Christopher Beckham, FGSE, Morehead State University
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This is the last day of the semester so give yourself a round of applause for the work you have accomplished! I'm asking that you document what you have done so we can build a resource database to help us in the future.
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