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Student Experience with COVID-19 and Online Learning: Impact of Faculty’s Ability to Successfully Navigate Technological Platforms for Remote Instruction

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Student Division Technical Session 1

Tagged Division

Student

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

19

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/37742

Download Count

34

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Paper Authors

biography

Melissa Shuey Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Melissa Shuey is an incoming Ph.D. student in Science and Technology Studies, at Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA). She received her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) with a minor in Science, Technology, and Society. Under the direction of Dr. Atsushi Akera and Dr. Alan Cheville, she has worked as an undergraduate and post-baccalaureate research assistant on two NSF-sponsored studies. Her current research is on documenting the student experience as educational technologies are integrated into engineering education.

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Atsushi Akera Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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Atsushi Akera is Associate Professor and Graduate Program Director in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY). He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in the History and Sociology of Science, University of Pennsylvania. His current research is on the history of engineering education reform in the United States (1945-present). He is a the current Chair of the ASEE Ad Hoc Committee on Interdivisional Cooperation; Chair of the International Network for Engineering Studies (INES); past chair of the ASEE Liberal Education / Engineering and Society Division; and a former member of the Society for the History of Technology’s (SHOT) Executive Council. Publications include /Calculating a Natural World: Scientists, Engineers and Computers during the Rise of U.S. Cold War Research/ (MIT Press, 2006).

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Sarah Appelhans University at Albany-SUNY

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Sarah Appelhans is a PhD candidate in Cultural Anthropology at the University at Albany (SUNY). Her dissertation research, "Flexible Lives on the Integrated Circuit: Gender and Belonging in Semiconductor Manufacturing", investigates the boundaries of membership in engineering in the Northeastern United States. She is honored to be a research assistant on two NSF-sponsored studies entitled "The Distributed System of Governance in Engineering Education" and "Developing Human Social Networks to Identify and Develop Data Driven Metrics and Methods for Expanding Learning Opportunities Across the Lifetime" under the direction of Dr. Alan Cheville and Dr. Atsushi Akera. In addition to her academic experience, she is a former mechanical engineer with several years of experience in the aviation and construction industries.

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Alan Cheville Bucknell University

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Alan Cheville studied optoelectronics and ultrafast optics at Rice University, followed by 14 years as a faculty member at Oklahoma State University working on terahertz frequencies and engineering education. While at Oklahoma State, he developed courses in photonics and engineering design. After serving for two and a half years as a program director in engineering education at the National Science Foundation, he took a chair position in electrical engineering at Bucknell University. He is currently interested in engineering design education, engineering education policy, and the philosophy of engineering education.

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Thomas De Pree University of New Mexico

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Thomas A. De Pree is an ASERT-IRACDA postdoctoral fellow in the School of Medicine at University of New Mexico (2020-2023), where he holds a research appointment with the UNM Metal Exposure and Toxicity Assessment on Tribal Lands in the Southwest (METALS) Superfund Research Program Center, and a teaching appointment in environmental sciences at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI). His Ph.D. & M.S. are in Science and Technology Studies from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (August 2019); M.A. in Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University (June 2015); B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of New Mexico (January 2010). His disciplinary background is in sociocultural anthropology and archaeology with training in ethnographic methods and cultural resource management. He also has interdisciplinary experience in political ecology, science and technology studies (STS), engineering studies, and Native American and Indigenous studies (NAIS). His dissertation entitled, The Life of the By-Product in the 'Grants Uranium District' of Northwestern New Mexico (August 2019), examines the entanglement of sciences, technologies, and politics invested in cleaning up so-called ecological "sacrifice zones." See one of his recent publications in Journal of Environmental Management, "The Politics of Baselining in the Grants Uranium Mining District of Northwestern New Mexico" (April 2020).

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Soheil Fatehiboroujeni Cornell University Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-5129-7428

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Soheil Fatehiboroujeni received his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Merced in 2018. As a postdoctoral researcher at Cornell University, Sibley School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Soheil is working in the Active Learning Initiative to promote student learning and the use of computational tools such as Matlab and ANSYS in the context of fluid mechanics and heat transfer.

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Abstract

This paper looks at the impact of COVID-19 and the associated shift to online learning, and how the quality of student learning was impacted by an instructor’s successes and failures in navigating technological platforms. Research shows that the quality of student-professor interactions is vital to student learning (Shea, Li and Pickett 2006, Swan 2002). Moreover, given the challenging nature of an engineering curriculum, our initial findings indicate that student success depends heavily on interactions that they have outside of the classroom via office hours, emails, and as important, study groups and modes of peer support that students form because of the in-person nature of normal classrooms. (Akera et at, 2020, Camacho and Lord 2013) The sudden shift to online learning disrupted established patterns for both instruction and learning, with impacts on how and whether students could successfully navigate their engineering courses. This paper is a subset of a larger, NSF funded project that examines how engineering educators have been responding to the rise of new educational technologies, and how the larger engineering education ecosystem has been responding to the emergence of these new technologies. COVID-19 presented us with a unique shock to the system, and a chance to observe this adaptation in accelerated form. Our research team, as described in “Student Perspectives on Navigating Engineering Pathways” (Akera et al, 2020) had already completed a series of student interviews describing how students with diverse backgrounds navigate the challenges of an engineering degree program. This presented us with an opportunity to extend the interviews to examine how students in turn navigated the forced shift to online learning. Twenty-two interviews were conducted during the Summer of 2020 to capture student experiences with the forced transition to online learning. The general method employed consisted of semi-structured interviews conducted using snowball sampling, with a subject selection matrix used to ensure broad demographic representation of subjects. While the greater findings related to student experiences with online learning that were captured in these interviews will be presented separately, this paper focuses on student reports on how instructors did and didn’t successfully utilize educational technologies during the sudden shift to online learning. Our key findings in this regard are that: instructors who reduced the amount of time lecturing and instead dedicated class time for student questions were able to emulate in-person office hours, instructors who shifted their course to a complete asynchronous mode notably lost the ability to engage students with learning material, and students relied on both institute-provided and non-academic resources (Slack, Discord, Zoom, Google Suite) to collaborate on their assignments. As was true with our “Student Perspectives” study, this work was also based on a relatively novel interview method that relies on the “code switching” that the interviewer—an undergraduate engineering student (female, 21, mid SES)—was able to invoke during the interview to develop rapport, share common experiences, and guide the interview subject towards a more detailed and subjective account of experiences they may have been less likely to share with older researchers unable to relate directly to student experiences. Therefore, the paper will also reflexively integrate the lead author’s experiences as an interviewer and the ways in which this approach facilitated access to key data related to student experiences.

Akera, Atsushi, Soheil Fatehiboroujeni, Sarah Appelhans, Joerene Aviles, Eva Dibong, Beatrice Mendiola, Michelle Murray, Melissa Shuey, Marta Tsyndra, and Makayla Wahaus. “Student Perspectives on Navigating Engineering Pathways.” 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access Proceedings, 2020. https://doi.org/10.18260/1-2--35234.

Camacho, Michelle Madsen, and Susan M. Lord. The Borderlands of Education: Latinas in Engineering. Lexington Books, 2013.

Shea, Peter, Chun Sau Li, and Alexandra Pickett. 2006. "A study of teaching presence and student sense of learning community in fully online and web-enhanced college courses." Internet and Higher Education (9): 175-190.

Swan, Karen. 2002. "Building learning communities in online courses: the importance of interaction." Education, Communication, & Information II (1): 23-49.

Shuey, M., & Akera, A., & Appelhans, S., & Cheville, A., & De Pree, T., & Fatehiboroujeni, S. (2021, July), Student Experience with COVID-19 and Online Learning: Impact of Faculty’s Ability to Successfully Navigate Technological Platforms for Remote Instruction Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/37742

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