Thomas Nelson’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the international honor society for students at two-year colleges, recently conducted a survey regarding online learning. The results taught its members a lot.
The survey was conducted last semester, when students had the option of in-person learning, online learning, or a hybrid model.
“We thought since campus is open, students would be satisfied with whatever they were taking because they had options to take classes in different manners,” said Lisa Barron, a co-chair of the organization.
That was not the case. Seventy-five percent of students learning in-person were comfortable with the process, but only 56% of those in an online forum were.
“Classroom was high, which we expected,” Barron said. “Virtual was the lowest of all three.”
With all the improvements educators have made in online learning, combined with students becoming more accustomed to a virtual environment, Barron and fellow PTK members thought the numbers would be comparable.
“They were not at all,” she said.
Comments submitted with the survey pointed to a common explanation.
“(Students) were feeling extremely anxious doing online learning, and it increased their depression and anxiety learning from home instead of being in-person,” said PTK President Amy Gonzalez.
Another reason cited was students are spending so much time at home because of the pandemic they look forward to being on campus with classmates. They like the camaraderie.
Several PTK members shared the results with professors during last week’s faculty colloquium. The information was well-received.
“I think everyone wants online learning to get better,” Barron said, noting faculty have many of the same feelings as students do about online learning. “They don’t like it. It’s not easy, but they do want to find a way to make it easier.”
Sharing the information, and discussing it, helped PTK members see their professors and instructors in a new light.
“It opened up my eyes because … the professors are human too,” said Charlene Lancaster, another Phi Sigma chapter co-chair. “Yes, it’s their job (to teach) but it’s become a lot harder now if you’re not into tech, if you’re not used to teaching from a computer.”
She now knows what is being asked of them, and it helped bridge the gap between faculty and students.
“I have a ton of respect for the professors (who) were trying to do it online,” said Gonzalez, noting everyone struggles until they become more familiar with it. “I learned through trial and error, just like the professors.”
The project, which was part of PTK’s annual Honors in Action program, could make the learning experience, online and virtual, better for everyone.
“The more we know from more people, the better it is that things could change,” Gonzalez said. “Student life is not the same as it was two years ago.”