Asee peer logo

Student Responses to Remote Teaching During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Implications for the Future of Online Learning

Download Paper |


2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access


Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Virtual Instruction of Chemical Engineering Courses

Tagged Division

Chemical Engineering

Page Count


Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Milo Koretsky Tufts University

visit author page

Milo Koretsky is the McDonnell Family Bridge Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and in the Department of Education at Tufts University. He received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from UC San Diego and his Ph.D. from UC Berkeley, all in Chemical Engineering. He currently has research activity in areas related engineering education and is interested in integrating technology into effective educational practices and in promoting the use of higher-level cognitive skills in engineering problem solving. His research interests particularly focus on what prevents students from being able to integrate and extend the knowledge developed in specific courses in the core curriculum to the more complex, authentic problems and projects they face as professionals.

visit author page

Download Paper |


The COVID-19 pandemic brought a widespread shift in instructional practice as faculty scurried to shift to remote instruction. One positive consequence is that this shift inspired many faculty to think carefully about their teaching practice and the ways that technology tools and instructional strategies support their learning goals. Some administrators have also been quick to leverage this aspect to see the pandemic as an opportunity to promote a widespread shift to online instruction at the university. In this qualitative study, I examine closely that premise by looking at how students experienced the shift to remote learning in chemical engineering and related disciplines. The fundamental research question is, “do the student experiences in the shift to remote learning support advocacy for a scale-up in online education?”

Overall, students felt restricted in their ability to engage in remote instruction. A consistent focus of responses cited difficulty motivating to participate during class and fighting distractions. Students also described that missed social cues from not being able to see classmates caused disequilibrium in both lecture and in small group collaborative learning. As one student described, “it is almost like you can hide behind your computer and make your way through the classes without participating as much as you would during an in person class.” A few students felt it was difficult to jointly solve problems with their peers or instructors in the remote environment. Other issues that included frustration about their instructor’s fluency with technology (“preoccupied with keeping technological issues at bay’) and identifying space in their home environment where they could work. Surprisingly few students addressed specific pedagogical choices or strategies associated with remote teaching. These student experiences suggest we use caution in the extent to which we scale on line learning in chemical engineering. While it is important to compare learning outcomes between face-to-face and online modes, examination of student responses suggest that social threads that form the fabric of the classroom and university communities are critical to their development as engineers.

Koretsky, M. (2021, July), Student Responses to Remote Teaching During the Covid-19 Pandemic: Implications for the Future of Online Learning Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2021 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015