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How Professors Adapted to the Shift to Remote Learning


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Some early data shows how the COVID-19-induced shift to remote learning has reshaped instructors' teaching practices.

"Perspectives: COVID-19, and the Future of Higher Education," a survey released by Bay View Analytics, 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, the 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 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.

The bulk of the survey's questions focused on understanding how instructors changed their teaching practices and their approach to students.

A majority, 56 percent, said they had used "new teaching methods" in transitioning their courses to remote delivery. Instructors with no previous online teaching experience were much likelier to answer that way than were their peers who had taught online before they were forced to this spring.

Perhaps the most interesting — and possibly controversial — responses came to a question about how instructors changed their requirements for or expectations of students in the shift to remote learning.

Almost two-thirds said they changed "the kinds of assignments or exams" they gave to students, and nearly half said they lowered their expectations for the amount of work students would be able to do (48 percent), made it easier for students to take their courses pass/fail (47 percent), and "dropped some assignments or exams" (46 percent).

Almost a third — 32 percent — said they had "lowered the expectations about the quality of work that my students will be able to do."

From Inside Higher Ed
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