Survey Results on Students’ Thoughts About Remote Instruction

by William G. Jackson Center for Teaching and Learning

Student responses to the remote instruction survey conducted during the final weeks of the spring semester are still being analyzed, but one part stands out — students really appreciated the efforts made by instructors in the transition to remote instruction.

The 2,287 students who responded highlighted recorded lectures, virtual office hours and short tutorials as the most beneficial strategies used by Michigan Tech’s instructional personnel. They also valued the individual support and feedback many instructors provided during a challenging time. Just over half of respondents (1,157) highlighted at least one of their instructors for having done an excellent job of transitioning to remote instruction. Many students named more than one instructor and 373 unique instructors from 24 different departments were cited for their outstanding work. That means 55% of instructors teaching spring semester were viewed by at least one of their students as having done an excellent job transitioning to remote instruction. One anonymous respondent put it this way: “Some professors REALLY put a lot of effort into constant communication, extra material, lenience when having trouble, exam options and other unique approaches to this abrupt change and all of its challenges.”

While Michigan Tech’s students and their families appreciate all that instructors did — and are doing — to ensure continued delivery of high-quality education through extraordinary challenges, students who responded to the survey acknowledged that there were some “bumpy” transitions. They expressed frustration with having to miss lab experiences, low internet bandwidth and challenges associated with finding the space or motivation to get work done. Many students provided constructive feedback about how instructors might be able to improve remote learning experiences in the future, and this information is being used to enhance the support provided to Michigan Tech instructors by the Jackson CTL and Pavlis Honors College IDEA hub.

Building on the lessons learned during spring semester, Michigan Tech instructors are diving into professional development in preparation for fall. In the first week of track A, 89 instructors started an on-campus graduate course on online teaching, 69 more started a six-week program through the Educational Technology Association of Michigan, and 36 more began self-paced remote instruction training. Simultaneously, the IDEA hub wrap-up online learning event attracted 59 participants who shared their experiences from this spring and the new and innovative ways they engaged with students remotely. And if that’s not enough, Michigan Tech clocked the third-highest number of participants (50) of any university at the Virtual Symposium on the Essentials of Online Teaching hosted by Ferris State University. (For comparison, the host institution had 66 instructors participate.)

There is still a lot to do, but take a moment — let’s celebrate the ongoing and important work that so many are doing!