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Every Learner Everywhere
Tyton Partners

Time for Class: COVID-19 Edition

This past fall, higher education faculty across the country, after having worked throughout the summer to rebuild and redesign courses, showed up to “keep teaching” for their students, primarily in hybrid, highly-flexible and online courses.

As we close in on the one-year mark of the pandemic, 852 faculty teaching introductory courses are calling for urgent action as they report increases in the percentage of students who get a D or F grade, withdraw from a course, or show incomplete progress. The pattern is especially prevalent within two-year institutions and at institutions serving higher rates of poverty-affected students.

The Impact of 2020 on Introductory Faculty and their Students is the third report in an ongoing series designed to understand the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning in higher education; it serves as a follow-up to our first two reports, Time for Class – A National Survey of Faculty During COVID-19 and Time for Class – Planning for a Fall Like No Other. In this report we focus solely on the experiences of a consistent group of faculty teaching introductory courses, who shared their perspectives with us at three points over the course of the pandemic in 2020. Understanding the experiences of faculty teaching introductory-level courses is important, given the critical role these faculty play in delivering courses that impact student retention and progression. High-enrollment introductory-level English, STEM, and other general education courses serve as gateways to degree paths but often function as gatekeepers: high failure rates in these gateway courses lead to significant dropout rates between the first and second year, and at disproportionately high numbers for poverty-affected and racially minoritized students. The experiences and challenges of faculty teaching these courses are critically important to understand as we consider the near- and long-term impact on equity and access in higher education.

This grand unplanned experiment has prompted fundamental changes that we expect to see persist. Increased exposure to the use of digital learning techniques and tools has the potential to help faculty use these strategies post-pandemic to support student learning and change how their time is used to support students. In addition, the pandemic has brought to light issues that call for long-term strategic responses from institutions, suppliers, and policy-makers so that we can ensure that every student everywhere is able to learn.

Time for Class – Planning for a Fall Like No Other is the second report in a series designed to understand the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning in higher education; it serves as a follow-up to our first report, Time for Class – A National Survey of Faculty During COVID-19, which was released in July 2020. The second report aims to surface the challenges and concerns of faculty as they prepared their courses for the fall term and gauge their attitudes toward institutional policies and support. Specifically, it focuses on pedagogy, digital learning tool adoption, and views on student equity. The overarching goal of this special research series is to capture, amplify, and contribute to the stories of the faculty population. More than 3,500 faculty at over 1,500 higher education institutions nationwide have thoughtfully shared their experiences though survey responses and targeted focus group discussions.

Time for Class – A National Survey of Faculty During COVID-19 presents the first results from a series of surveys and focus groups with faculty designed to understand the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on teaching and learning in higher education. More than 4,000 faculty at over 1,500 higher education institutions nationwide have thoughtfully shared their experiences. This first analysis focuses on understanding the extent of the spring 2020 transition to remote learning.

Other Pillar Resources

Time for Class

This 2021 summary provides an updated view on how the pandemic has altered the landscape of teaching, learning, and course materials in higher education.