Academics affected by COVID-19


Donovan WilsonReporter

COVID-19 continues to change many of the factors of everyday life including academics here on campus. During the 2020 spring semester many things have changed on the academics side once all classes switched to online.

The students, faculty and school as a whole had more time to learn, grow and adapt during that period.Moving the rest of the semester online, staff was able to figure out how to go on in this ever changing pandemic landscape.

The faculty was subsequently put through many training procedures and the school tried to prepare ways to tackle the fall semester of 2020 and beyond.

“We learned a lot last spring when we jumped into accommodating for the spring semester back in March. Our faculty worked really hard on that,” said Provost Robert Prezant.

A large part of accommodating classes to the landscape of a pandemic was overcoming the challenges faced by the campus community. Staff listened to what issues students and professors had. This has led to the offering of more online classes than usual.

To resolve issues, more online courses are offered to help accommodate the needs of everyone. Most classes offered on campus function as hybrid courses and would meet online as well as in person when needed or wanted. Grades are the university’s main way to determine how well students are doing in school.

With offering students the chance to take classes as pass/fail, it is more difficult to look at grades to determine students success. The amount of which the student succeeds or fails is hidden, which is not a proper 1 to 1 comparison.

In other words, a GPA from fall of 2019 would look very different to a GPA from fall 2020, as there is a higher chance certain classes did not factor into the overall number.

“The academic success center is open all year long, both online and in-person for all students,” said Aaliyah Barnes, graduate intern and personal academic success coach at the campus academic success center.

When classes went entirely online, so did the academic success center and they saw a gigantic influx of online appointments being made. There was also an increase in the amount of students utilizing all of the services they offer. As time goes on, students needs change and the academic success center has been constantly evolving to meet those needs.

A lot of students are experiencing a feeling of disconnect through technology and needed some sort of one-on-one teaching, coaching and tutoring. This struggle came mainly with asynchronous classes, or self-motivated classes that ran online, with no class meetings.

Students had academic freedom and delegated their schoolwork at their own pace. This led to a large number of students coming in less for direct tutoring and more so for help with organizing their work, finding motivation to do their work and managing their time better in this new world.

“My grades got significantly better but a lot of my friends had to take advantage of the pass-fail contracts just to get through their courses,” said communications major Kieron Turnbull, a senior.

Moving forward, even past the pandemic, there has been a lot of valuable skills learned and knowledge gained. For instance, hybrid courses and online courses are something students are a lot more open to now than they were before.

Faculty and staff are extremely hopeful for the future of the schools academics during this pandemic and moving into the future.

“The good news is we’ve learned a lot about how to work in this pandemic environment,” said Prezant, “our attitudes have grown a little more positive and not only because of vaccines but because we’ve learned how to learn in this environment.”

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