How do our students feel about Distant Learning?

Starting from March all of us had to make a transition from regular face-to-face form of education to remote learning. The main goal of this short questionnaire was to better understand the challenges that our students have faced during this transition and to find ways to help and support them in this situation.

The questionnaire was distributed among students from several STEM classes of different levels and disciplines. The questionnaire was conducted anonymously through google forms. The instructors who conducted the questionnaire: Chris Farley, Lucia Fuentes, Xin Gao, Roman Senkov, and Na Xu. Below we post some of the student answers.

1. Some representative examples of what students wrote when they were asked to describe their experience with staying at home most of the time:

  • It hasn’t been easy. Distractions are endless and there is a loose structure of days. It’s challenging to keep a schedule.
  • Being at home most of the time has opened up a lot of free time. Ironically for me, the newfound time actually makes me less inclined to study and focus on schoolwork. I find it easier to study and concentrate on academic work at campus than I do at home. It seems to me that being in a space that is specifically designated for educational purposes makes learning easier.
  • At the beginning of it, I was quite happy that finally I would get to spend more time with my family. I may be an introvert person but I like to go out and meet my favourite peoples. I never liked to stay at home but now the reality is different. Nowadays, I often experience very irritable mood, low energy level, lack of motivation, social withdrawal of my activity.
  • My experience staying at home most of the time has been interesting for me, I've learned a lot of things about how I do my routines and how I adjusted the normal things that I do into a new normal things that I have done these past two months. Although studying at home is still critical for me as I had not done any school related things online.
  • I haven't, as I'm a nurse, and have been working.
  • In the beginning I was complaining about staying at home learning, but now I have realized that I have more control of my time to study and it saves me a lot of hours to travel going school and going back home. Also I saved money for Gas and Parking.
  • To be honest, before this lockdown I used to feel like staying home most of the time. However, at the current situation I don’t feel like staying at home anymore. It is making me lazy. I cannot explain how bored and frustrated I am right at the moment. Actually, it is making me sick mentally.

2. Some representative examples of what students wrote when they were asked to describe any complications they experienced when they moved to Distant Learning:

  • I have experienced technical difficulties involving a slow computer. I don't have a space in my apartment that I can use as an office because I live in a studio, therefore I cant provide myself with a space conducive to full concentration. I don't feel enough time is given to complete the tests. The format for taking tests on blackboard is pour and I have experienced the app freeze, knocking me out of the test, and on a few instances questions I had answered were not saved.
  • Exams were more difficult, lack of motivation, and it is harder to focus with distant learning. I find it easier to understand in person than to learn it remotely.
  • Learning seems slower online as opposed to in person - all of my classes are behind schedule. I find that it is not always easy to understand the ideas that a professor tries to convey over the Internet as opposed to in person. Internet connection issues can also disrupt the learning process.
  • Home and school are two different things. Now I understand these were unprecedented times, but trying to have an atmosphere, similar to that of a school, is difficult when you have people across from you watching tv or using the blender. Distractions are at an all-time high. Going to school from home isn't something I am used too. So, I would say the hardest thing was the transition: trying to cope in an academic setting when the environment that surrounds you is the complete opposite, is to this day a challenge.
  • There are few complications that I am experiencing now when moved to Distant Learning class. First of all, the internet connection is the major complication. Due to poor internet connection, I had to miss some of my classes and sometimes have to face disruption while attending the lectures. While taking the class, I kind of felt distracted by the home environment so that sometimes I lose concentration. Due to distant learning, we are not able to meet the professor in person, so we have to contact them via email. In that case, professor is delaying replying the email and some did not respond back. I’m not saying all the professors, but 1 or 2 professors did that. I think professors should cope with the student so that we could learn better. However, I have some professors who are really into helping the students. No matter what, they are trying to help the students and comfort them so that they won’t harm their studies.
  • I had some complications after moving to distant learning. I used to live with my relative and as everyone had to stay at home, there were many people in the house and, I didn’t have room to study and attend my classes so I had to study among all the people. It was very difficult as I couldn’t concentrate on studies or the classes because of the crowd. I then had to move out as it was getting more difficult for me to study.

3. Some representative examples of what students wrote when they were asked to describe any benefits they found in Distant Learning:

  • I believe the main benefits of the class is that the anxiety of this epidemic is substantially lowered being that we are predominantly staying safely at home. This makes it easier to focus on class and learn successfully. I also find that the time saved on commute to and from school was better used to do homework and study for exams, so this was an added benefit to this circumstance. I feel I was able to learn well so far on zoom's platform and with the high level of skill my instructor implemented.
  • I'm not rushing to prepare for my daily travel to school. I can just sit down and attend the class conveniently. I love distant learning, it works for a working student like me.
  • I don't have to spend money on travel but I'd rather do that than do distance learning.
  • One benefit is time saved on commute to and from school. Another benefit is that professors usually record the meetings and/or send images of notes for their class, which can be very helpful. Professors are also more flexible with their time and have greater availability to provide help outside of class.
  • No commute is the most beneficial thing that has come out of this distant learning, apart from flexibility and learning from the comfort of your home.
  • One of the benefits is that it saves time to travel to the college. It is easy to ask questions that we don’t feel any hesitation. It is also kind of peaceful to study from home. It also establishes habit to learn more by self. It creates more independences in the student. It also good for those people who has responsibility to look after in the home.
  • Even though there were many complications while moving to distant learning, there are few benefits to it too. I get more time to study now, for example, I can use the time that I needed to commute to college to study at home now. I also noticed that a lot of professors became very lenient towards scoring exams or with homework which I am very grateful for. The credit/no credit policy was introduced which I believe is great news for students at this time.
  • I would say it has saved my time that I used to use for commute. Other than that, I don’t see any benefits in Distant Learning.