Survey Says...



COE COVID-19 student survey “I think that while it was a challenge for everybody, we came through. Personally my professors have adapted very very well to the change. Overall, I think that this just shows how much face-to-face interaction with classmates and instructors was undervalued by myself and many other students.” -- Student comment, May 2020 student survey 

More than 2,000 students in all levels and degree programs at the University of Northern Iowa College of Education experienced a spring semester like none other. Before the end of semester, more than 325 shared their thoughts on the experience in response to a COE student survey.

So, how did it go? 

Overall, students recognized the transition to remote learning was difficult for everyone. They appreciated the communication, feedback and support they were given. If given a choice, though, 80 percent said the experience did not increase their interest in online teaching. Sixty-five percent still preferred face-to-face learning, while 25 percent were open to a hybrid approach.  

The students shared concerns with communication (lack of consistency, completeness, timeliness); inconsistency in expectations, level and quality of coursework; and access to technology. They also cited the impact on their mental health and well-being as they dealt with stressors including loss of jobs and income, or, in contrast, continuing to work as an “essential worker” while trying to complete their studies, with many unexpectedly at home with family.

While students in many of the college’s graduate programs are more accustomed to working online, many were not. The unexpected and quick shift to remote learning and changing requirements for field experiences added to their discomfort. 

Insights for next steps 

Many findings parallel similar surveys conducted by the other UNI colleges. “Going forward, we will learn from this, identify what we can do as College of Education faculty and staff, and collaborate with all our UNI colleagues to provide the quality education, support and understanding our students expect,” Dean Colleen Mulholland wrote in a message to faculty and staff as she thanked them for their efforts.

“This has been an incredibly stressful time for all. But, we rallied together to create an alternate learning environment to meet our goal of successfully helping our students complete their semester. The future remains uncertain, but we will get through this, together.”