Headline, May 29 2022/ STUDENTS : ''' '' BROAD* SCALE BRIGHT '' '''



 BRIGHT '' '''

MATTHEW FUJITA - A BIOLOGY PROFESSOR AT the University of Texas at Arlington, said the results of the first exam in his fall 2020 genetics class, a lecture course, reflected, ''the worst performance I had ever seen on a test.''

 Amy Austin, who teaches Spanish at U.T.A., began calling her students her ''divine little silent circles''  - a reference to Dante Alighieri's ''Divine Comedy'' - because she would typically see only their initials in a circle on her computer screen, none of them speaking.

Students' self-reports track these observations. A June 2021 survey by Inside Higher Ed found that more than half of students said they learned less that academic year than they did before the pandemic.

There is much evidence that students learn less online than they do in person, in part because online courses demand considerable self-discipline and motivation.

And some lessons just don't translate to a remote format. ''You can't learn how to use a microscope online,'' said Melissa Walsh, who teaches biology and environmental science at U.T.A. ''You just can't.''

It's no surprise, then, that in one of the first studies to examine the broad-scale learning outcomes during the pandemic, researchers found that the switch to online learning resulted in more course failures and withdrawals in the Virginia community-college system, even despite more lenient grading.

Students nationwide reported a greater willingness to cheat, too.

It's bad enough that so many students had to take classes through a medium where they don't do their best. More disconcerting is that when American classes returned to mainly in-person in fall 2021, students' performance did not bounce back.

The problem isn't only that students learn poorly online. It's also that when they go through a year or more of remote classes, they develop habits that harm their ability to learn offline, too.

Dr. Austin said the quality of her students' work had not recovered after the return to campus. On grammar tests, students continued to score lower than they did before the pandemic. Now, she told me, the students in her classroom often met her questions with blank stares. ''This is like being online!'' she said.

That was my experience, too.

In my classes it often seemed as if my students thought they were still on Zoom with their cameras off, as if they had muted themselves.

Many students got out of the habit of coming to class at all. Dr. Walsh estimated that in her biology course for non majors this spring, just 30 percent to 40 percent of students attended class, and only a handful watched her recorded lectures.

The students who don't attend class are missing out on the best of Dr. Walsh, who recently won a campuswide teaching award.

''What makes me an effective instructor,'' she said, '' has a lot to do with my personality, how I engage in the classroom, using humor. I'm very animated. I like to walk around the classroom and talk with students.''

Doing so is a way not to just get them engaged but also to test their learning and adjust her teaching on the fly. '' I'm not able to do that with students who don't come to the classroom,'' she said.

Dr. Walsh added that if students aren't in the classroom, she can't recruit them to collaborate with her on research, an invaluable learning experience. She also has little to go on when writing recommendations for medical school.

The problem is bigger than any one professor's class. it's hard to insist on in-person attendance when colleagues are demanding flexibility, or as Dr. Walsh noted, when non-tenure-track faculty members like her are evaluated for contract renewal and promotion based on student evaluations.

If students expect recorded lectures - even ones they won't watch - then instructors will feel pressure to provide them.

It's true that some students thrive with the flexibility and freedom afforded by Covid-era policies. Jeffrey Vancil, a sophomore at the University of Texas at Dallas, said that in his first year, he could study more efficiently by watching lecture recordings on his own schedule and at faster speeds.

He didn't have to waste time moving from building to building. And with extra time, he could work for political groups and as a volunteer firefighter.

After his classes went mostly in-person, he said, he had to pull back on his extracurriculars, and his grades suffered.

The best approach, in his view, would be to ''let people choose'' how to take their classes, ''because we now have the infrastructure in place that we can record lectures and have in-person ones for people who learn best each way.

Remote and recorded classes can also enable students who work or care for children to fit school into their schedules, Ahlam Atallah, a senior at U.T.A., said that online courses allowed her to take classes while her two children were at home. She also didn't have to commute to or find parking on the vast suburban campus.

But she found that taking classes at home divided her attention. '' You can't talk about this novel you're reading when you have a 2-year-old running around, asking, 'Mom, Mom, can I have a snack?' '' Ms. Atallah said.

This past academic year, with both children at school in person, she went to nearly all her in-person classes, even those with recorded lectures. In the classroom, ''I can give my full attention to the class to my professor and my fellow students.''

The Honour and Serving of the Latest Global Operational Research on Students, and learning options, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Professor Jonathan Malesic.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all prepare and register for Great Global Elections on The World Students Society : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011.

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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