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What Do Students Need from other Students? Peer Support During Remote Learning

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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

The Role of Peers in Promoting Learning and Persistence

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

23

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/38042

Download Count

78

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Paper Authors

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Neha Kardam University of Washington

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Neha Kardam is a Ph.D. student in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of Washington, Seattle. She has a Master's Degree in Power System and is working as an Assistant Professor and Department Chair in the Electronics Technology Program at Lake Washington Institute of Technology, Kirkland.

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Shruti Misra University of Washington

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Shruti Misra is a graduate student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interest is broadly focused on studying innovation in university-industry partnerships. She is interested in the various ways that universities and industry come together and participate in driving technological innovation at the regional and global level.

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Morgan Anderson University of Washington

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Morgan Anderson received her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Hofstra University and her master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Washington, Seattle. She is interested in the use of digital tools to support school-community partnerships that enhance access to mental wellness assessment and intervention.

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Ziyan Bai University of Washington Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-8630-6179

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Ziyan Bai has a Ph.D. in educational leadership and policy studies with a focus on higher education. She has over six years of research and professional experience in the field of higher education. With a dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion, she is committed to using qualitative and quantitive research to inform impact-driven decisions.

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Denise Wilson University of Washington

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Denise Wilson is a professor of electrical engineering at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her research interests in engineering education focus on the role of self-efficacy, belonging, and other non-cognitive aspects of the student experience on engagement, success, and persistence and on effective methods for teaching global issues such as those pertaining to sustainability.

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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has isolated students as they work from home, often in different time zones and in different locations around the world. In traditional learning settings, college students have ample opportunities for face-to-face interactions to work and learn together. In contrast, in remote learning settings, social isolation drastically reduces these opportunities which puts the responsibility on faculty and administrators to offer alternative means for students to develop peer support. Through over 1,000 surveys and a convergent parallel, mixed-methods approach, this study examined peer support among students using both close-ended and short answer questions in both remote and in-person settings. Students from 16 courses junior and sophomore level classes in electrical and mechanical engineering at a large public research institution reported present and preferred levels of peer support within in-person and remote learning settings. Statistical analysis of all courses showed that there was no significant difference in perceived peer support between remote and in-person learning environments. This result was also supported by qualitative analysis of short answer questions over multiple courses coded based on the cooperative learning framework. However, when both quantitative and qualitative analysis was repeated for those individual courses that were surveyed both during in-person and remote learning settings, significant differences were observed in students' perceived peer support in some courses. These analyses suggested that course-to-course and instructor-to-instructor variations overshadowed any differences in perceived peer support. The qualitative data shed light on a different aspect of peer support differences in the two settings. Notably, qualitative data indicated that students more frequently expressed an expectation for peers teaching peers (i.e., peer instruction) when participating in study groups in-person as opposed to remotely. Furthermore, while the peer support needs were mostly similar in both settings, the tools to achieve those needs changed between the classroom and remote context. This is exemplified by student responses that were unique to the remote learning context such as the need for peers to be more respectful over chat and to be considerate of others during Zoom sessions. In the remote context, students also mentioned frequently a desire for forums or discussion boards, where they could share and check approaches and answers to problems in an online setting. This study underscores the importance of peer support regardless of setting and suggests that peer support is easier to achieve in in-person than on-line. However, engineering students are a creative lot, and they had much to offer in terms of improvements to peer support during remote learning including the creative use of a wide range of tools on Canvas, Zoom, or Slack and rules of conduct expected in chat, audio, and video features when using those tools. Students are willing to adapt to remote learning and the data from this study have provided valuable input to faculty for supporting students in doing so.

Kardam, N., & Misra, S., & Anderson, M., & Bai, Z., & Wilson, D. (2021, July), What Do Students Need from other Students? Peer Support During Remote Learning Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://peer.asee.org/38042

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