Switching from Face-to-Face to Online Instruction Midsemester Impacts and Challenges for Student Learning and Success

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Debora Herold
Tina Chen


The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted higher education during Spring 2020 by forcing all face-to-face classes to unexpectedly transition to online learning. To better understand how switching to remote learning affected students and the factors that impacted their ability to successfully complete classes, 168 undergraduate students in three different psychology classes (six sections total) were asked in the last week of the semester about their experiences from before and after the switch. Students reported some decreased access to technology, changes in work responsibilities, some amount of physical illness, and the need to care for others who were physically ill. Notably, students consistently reported increased stress and decreased ability to focus. Students varied in how much they prioritized classes after the switch, which predicted their performance in the class, measured by exam grade, overall grade, and completion of attendance before and after the switch. Importantly, survey respondents significantly differed from non-respondents in their class performance, which suggests that results from voluntary surveys may capture a limited perspective and possibly underestimate the detrimental effects of the shift to online instruction. Implications for planning for future online classes in a global pandemic are discussed.


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Herold, D., & Chen, T. (2021). Switching from Face-to-Face to Online Instruction Midsemester: Impacts and Challenges for Student Learning and Success. Journal of Teaching and Learning With Technology, 10(1). https://doi.org/10.14434/jotlt.v10i1.30521