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Students Talk: The Experience of Advanced Technology Students at Two-Year Colleges during COVID-19

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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

The Curriculum at Two-year College's Engineering Technology and Engineering Transfer Programs

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Two-Year College

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Paper Authors


Marilyn Barger P.E. FLATE, Florida Advanced Technological Education Center

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Dr. Marilyn Barger is the Director of FLATE, the Florida Advanced Technological Education Center a part of the FloridaMakes Network, and previously funded by the National Science Foundation. FLATE serves the state of Florida as its region and is involved in outreach and recruitment of students into technical career pathways; has produced award-winning curriculum design and reform for secondary and post-secondary Career and Technical Education programs; and provides a variety of professional development for STEM and technology secondary and post-secondary educators focused on advanced technologies. She earned a B.A. in Chemistry at Agnes Scott College and both a B.S. in Engineering Science and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (Environmental) from the University of South Florida, where her research focused on membrane separation science and technologies for water purification. She has over 20 years of experience in developing curricula for engineering and engineering technology for elementary, middle, high school, and post secondary institutions, including colleges of engineering. Dr. Barger has presented at many national conferences including the American Association of Engineering Education, National Career Pathways Network, High Impact Technology Exchange, ACTE Vision, League of Innovation and others. Dr. Barger serves on several national panels and advisory boards for technical programs, curriculum and workforce initiatives, including the National Association of Manufacturers Educators‘Council. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Engineering Education, a member of Tau Beta Pi and Epsilon Pi Tau honor societies. She is a charter member of both the National Academy and the University of South Florida‘s Academy of Inventors. Dr. Barger holds a licensed patent and is a licensed Professional Engineer in Florida.

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Lakshmi Jayaram Inquiry Research Group LLC

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Lakshmi Jayaram is President of the Inquiry Research Group LLC and Policy Fellow at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She received her doctorate in sociology from the Johns Hopkins University and specializes in qualitative and mixed methods research, with a focus on education, social disparities, and policy-relevant studies. She is Co-Principal Investigator of an NSF-funded longitudinal study of two-year college students’ enrollment and persistence, with a focus on under-represented and non-traditional students in STEM fields. Prior to working in academia, Jayaram received her master's degree in public policy from the University of Chicago, and worked at The White House, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a Presidential Management Fellow.

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There have been many questions and concerns raised by educators about how advanced technology students will adapt to remote learning during the COVID era. What will technician students’ academic engagement and persistence be like, and how will online learning affect their educational outcomes? What do technician students like about remote learning and what do they find challenging? What does online learning mean for hands-on applied and experiential learning, which are hallmarks of technical education programs? This paper explores pilot survey data collected in Florida from advanced technology students at two-year colleges. Five primary areas covered in the survey include enrollment status, access to technology, experience using a Learning Management System and learning online, impact on applied and experiential learning, and students’ background information. Key findings include decreased interaction between peers, increased reliance on instructors, and a significant decline in experiential learning such as labs, group projects, demonstrations, problem-based learning, and service-learning. The majority of students report feeling worried about making progress toward their degree, and about half worried about completing the semester. Two benefits students identified as having access to course materials all the time through the LMS and the flexibility of remote learning. Findings also show that technician students are quite diverse by way of age, partner status, having a family, race-ethnicity, employment status, and educational background. About one-third of students who responded are women. This paper concludes with several recommendations about the application of these research findings to address challenges technician students face learning online, including specific actions that instructors and programs can pursue to help retain students and provide support through the completion of degree programs.

Barger, M., & Jayaram, L. (2021, July), Students Talk: The Experience of Advanced Technology Students at Two-Year Colleges during COVID-19 Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37767

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