July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
New Engineering Educators
The COVID-19 public health crisis has influenced the way American higher education institutions operate and support student success. As a result of the crisis, institutions that traditionally provided in-person instruction abruptly moved to a virtual space with little preparation time in the spring of 2020. Considering the critical roles that both faculty and teaching assistants (TAs) play in student learning and engagement, this study explored the contribution that this abrupt transition to remote learning made in international students’ perceptions of faculty and TA support, and positive emotional engagement, compared to U.S. students. Data collected from surveys in in-person settings prior to COVID-19 and in spring of 2020 immediately after COVID-19 impacted the delivery of higher education (N = 1,212) were used to study if and how the remote setting influenced international student perceptions of faculty and TA support and positive emotional engagement. The pre-COVID surveys were collected from students enrolled in sophomore and junior-level engineering courses prior to 2020, and the remaining surveys were collected from students enrolled in remote learning courses in the spring of 2020. Seven of the courses were the same in both the remote and in-person survey populations, and the remaining five courses were similar (in mechanical or electrical engineering and involving significant TA support).
The data were analyzed cross-sectionally using hierarchical linear models. All models considered demographics (gender and citizenship status), behavioral engagement, and emotional engagement variables. The study found that international students’ perceived level of faculty support was more sensitive to their level of self-efficacy than that of their U.S. peers. International students’ perceptions of TA support were also found to be generally higher than that of U.S. students. Finally, international students’ positive emotional engagement was higher than that of U.S. peers, more sensitive to participation, and less sensitive to perceptions of TA support.
Faculty and TA support are both important to student learning and this is particularly true for international students. Contrary to the perception that remote learning is substandard compared to traditional learning, this study suggests that students overall felt that the instructional team provided adequate support during the COVID-19 crisis. This study was not able to explain whether this effect will “wear off” as remote learning continues, and students become less charitable in their assessments. Although this data was collected from only a single institution, it suggests that what engineering faculty and TAs did in the first term of remote learning worked; and carrying forward those practices into future remote instruction and instruction beyond the COVID-19 pandemic may be recommended.
Bai, Z., & Wilson, D., & Misra, S., & Anderson, M., & Kardam, N. (2021, July), Differences in Perceptions of Instructional Support between U.S. and International Students Before and During COVID-19 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/36979
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