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2021 Summit Insights

 

What should education at Notre Dame
look like, post COVID-19?

Flexibility

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.

Autonomy

Students are able to engage themselves when they’re given the opportunity to focus on their interests. The autonomy to choose a topic of interest to apply a concept, choose the format of examination, or have a voice in the direction of the course, makes a significant difference in their motivation.

Relevance

When they can see real-world applicability of what they’re learning, students feel more motivated and engaged. Students find that real-world practice problems, explicit connections in lectures, interesting applications of concepts, and learning transferable skills, all contribute to whether a course feels relevant.

Connection

Students and faculty have a shared understanding that connection and meaningful relationships are critical for learning. Many students and faculty agreed that the largest downside associated with online learning was the lack of connection.

Environment

Students need an environment that cultivates learning. For some, being in a classroom allows them to engage best, often due to a distraction-free setting and being around other learners. For others, controlling the time and place matters, which isn’t always in the classroom. Many professors felt as though they taught their best in-person, and were better at forming relationships.

Organization and Accessibility

Students want to know how to succeed. They want clear grading, and professors that are accessible in class for questions and via office hours. Many students appreciated that online learning increased avenues for getting questions answered. They also appreciate when professors check in for understanding.

Passion for Learning

Students and faculty want authentic learning and true engagement, and hold a range of ideas about how this could be accomplished. Many feel that exams and assignments need to be re-designed, with less emphasis on memorization, and less comparison between students. Faculty and students want a culture of joint inquiry in classrooms, where all can share the responsibility of learning and discuss topics in a no-wrong-answers environment.

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