For many students, the benefit of online learning was increased flexibility. For the many students that learn at their own pace, being able to re-watch class lectures helped their learning tremendously. Many argued for more flipped classroom approaches, where they can go through the lecture at their own pace, and do the meaningful collaboration during class time. Students also felt that flexibility helped their mental health and prevent burnout, because they could take a mental or physical health day, and not have the added stress of falling behind.
Many students prefer to learn at their own pace. [1.1]
“I like to (and learn best when) I can go at my own pace through lectures. I get overwhelmed trying to keep up, and some professors never answer questions, or I can’t make it to office hours. NEEDS: to work at my own pace.” - Science Business
“If I miss a step, I can’t understand the rest, and I shut down. I’m always reteaching myself everything after class, from the point of where I get lost. My Econ prof let us watch the lecture online OR in-person, and we could go to office hours for questions--game changer. Not everyone is a slow learner, but everyone got what they needed this way.” - Marketing/Design
Top Photo: Finance Faculty
Bottom Photo: Economics/Sociology
Students appreciate recorded and posted lectures. They want to review the material after class to find things they missed, or to study for exams. [1.2.1]
“Posted lectures allow for better reviewing of lessons and material.” - Aerospace/Mechanical Engineering
“I need to be able to see and review material again and again.” - Classics/PLS
“[Recorded lectures] make it easy to go back and review before a big assessment.” - Economics/Sociology
Top Photo: Finance Faculty
Bottom Photo: Economics/Sociology
Posted and recorded lectures. When students need to miss class--due to illness or mental health--having recordings minimizes additional stress about falling behind. [1.2.2]
"I need to have the occasional option to miss class (for a good reason) and not worry... I am less stressed about missing a class because of a bad day, because I don't need to stress about missing notes.” - Science Business
“ ‘What did you like about remote learning either at home or on campus?’ Not falling behind when sick because missing class can leave you without important content in the course.” - Political Science
Students appreciate recorded and posted lectures, so they can pause to take better notes, and rewatch concepts immediately to resolve confusion. [1.2.3]
“It’s hard to keep up with lectures when you miss a step, because then the rest doesn't make sense. Recorded lectures makes it easier to follow the break-down step by step. Math takes time for me as a student with memory issues.” - ACMS
“The lectures were always a lot of content so I liked watching at my own pace.” - Business Analytics
Photo: Science Business
Some students appreciated flexible attendance to class, so that they could attend online when there was too little time to physically walk from class to class. [1.2.4]
“I have health issues so getting to class can be difficult. By being able to make my own schedule, and watch certain lectures at different times, I can take care of myself better.” - Economics/Sociology
“I need more accessible options to help ensure I succeed in all my classes.” - Political Science/Spanish
Photo: Political Science/Theology
Flipped classroom approach. Students can process the recorded lecture at their own pace, and collaborate on important problems during class, in-person. [1.2.6]
“Class time shouldn’t be one-way. Homework and lectures in preparation is greater than homework for revision. I want class time to be used to interact and cooperate, then I can watch lectures on my own.” - Mechanical Engineering
“The class was lecture then discussion which gave me a chance to learn then discuss, argue, defend points, and ask questions. The flipped classroom really helped.”
“I was able to learn ahead of time and ask in-depth questions, instead of asking lecture questions. There is richer learning when you have more background. I was getting the most out of class this way.” - Math
Photo: Finance Faculty
Some students feel that teachers rush the lectures when in-person. While there are many solutions to this, recorded lectures helped fix this issue. [1.2.7]
“Students were positively affected by the recorded lectures. They learn at their own pace and from different starting points; they can pause and fast forward. I can take time to highlight different details and formulas and show other methods for solving problems without being rushed.” - Finance Faculty
“Recorded lectures makes it easier to break down information step-by-step.” - ACMS
Photo: Science Business
Time, place, and environment impact ability to absorb information. Some students greatly benefit from the flexibility to choose when and where they learn. Options empower students to choose a way that works for them. [1.2.8]
“I don’t always learn best directly in the classroom. My health issues mean that I can’t always focus when I want to, or during class time. I can take care of myself best when I can learn on my own time...not all students are the same.” - Economics/Sociology
“Sometimes going online for an evening class after full day helped me pay better attention. Spend my remaining energy actually learning--instead of spending all the energy I have left just getting to the physical room. Having online options helps me manage fatigue.” - Biological Sciences
“My productivity fluctuates day-to-day, which is common for people with ADHD. I do so much better if I can time my learning or watching tough lectures with when my energy is high.” - Business/Anthropology
“More flexibility to watch/learn on my own time, as well as rewatch as needed. I need the ability to have options in how I learn.” - Pre-Health/Vocal Performance
Photo: Mechanical Engineering
Students feel that flexibility supports their mental health; it helps prevent burnout and address it when it happens. [1.3]
“The flexibility of online options is so helpful for mental health and low energy days...Keeping online options shows understanding and sympathy for students who are sick or struggling.” - Biology
“Schedule Flexibility! I don’t have to travel as much if I have one class that’s online. I have limited time--balancing school, extracurriculars, and faith life, personal health and sleep. Flexibility means less stress, which means less susceptible to burnout. Core need: Balancing everything with enough time for self care.” - Mathematics
Top Photo: Anthropology/Political Science
Bottom Photo: Political Science
Checking in. Students appreciate professors that check in on their well-being, and are open to changing deadlines accordingly. [1.3.1]
“Students AND professors are stressed more than ever. There’s more to ourselves than our academic lives. We still experience things going on in the news and our communities. We all have several identities that make us more prone to certain stressors. We need to be flexible, check in on each other.” - American Studies/Sociology
“Empathy for students--I hope this stays post-pandemic. Reduced exams, late forgiveness, compassion if missed class due to sickness. When I know there is forgiveness, I am happier, because I get to prioritize my physical and mental health, without becoming even more anxious from worrying about falling behind.” - Visual Communication Design
Photo: Psychology Group
Ideas for Increasing Flexibility
Below are tangible ways to empower students to own their learning, based on their unique needs.
For slow learners, those that need to miss class on occasion for good reason, for students that miss a step during class, students that want to take better notes, or those that need to review material to learn it fully:
Record lectures and upload them after each class day for students to re-watch.
To encourage a deadline for catching up, the recorded lectures could be pulled from the site after a certain period of time.
For small class sizes, recorded lectures could be available upon request from a student that misses class, to create open communication between the professor and student.
Allow Flexible Attendance Days
For many students, the option of taking an unexcused absence is unappealing due to the stigma of being lazy or irresponsible. Instead, consider:
Openly allowing students to watch recorded lectures for a certain number of classes, due to mental or physical health needs.
Taking attendance, and giving a small completion-based grade for attending a certain percentage of classes, such that a zero score would affect an overall grade, but a less-than-perfect would not.
Virtual or In-Person Office Hours, and Other Avenues
Allow students to come to office hours via Zoom or in-person depending on their schedule ability and learning needs.
Allow students to send emails during office hours for a quick response, if the above options aren't accessible.
Allow students to raise questions at the beginning of lecture from the homework.
Have students talk in pairs or small groups about what is confusing for them, and record it on a slip of paper to be passed in anonymously.
Post detailed homework solutions and provide time to discuss answer key.
Empowering Students to Choose Their Approach for Learning
Some students learn best in the classroom. Some students greatly prefer the flipped classroom approach because it allows them to learn at their own pace, or in a setting or timing curated to their learning needs. Providing a range of options for students with different needs could look like:
One class day per week is dedicated to lecture, where students can decide to attend in-person or watch at their own pace, or both. The other class day could be dedicated to in-person collaboration and application. A comprehension assignment could assure that students are coming to the other class day prepared to collaborate.