Follow Up Friday

February 5, 2021

This week: Students taking the lead, posts you may have missed, and upcoming events

The First First Friday Coffee & Conversation of Spring 2021 – Students Speak!

We asked a panel of students for their input on the learning and classroom challenges they are facing during this unprecedented time in higher education. The students were from different majors and represented all levels, from freshmen to graduate school, and answered faculty questions candidly. Here’s a brief summary of that conversation:

Q: What’s your biggest challenge right now concerning school?

Several students mentioned that simply being stuck in one place makes it difficult to stay motivated and to keep engaged with classes. Whether you are living in a crowded apartment with other roommates also trying to attend Zoom classes, or whether it’s the lure of naps on your bed a few feet away, being in a state of semi-lockdown is a challenge. Panelist Shelby also noted that not being able to see and get to know professors face to face could affect recommendation letters which are crucial for graduating seniors heading out on the job market or planning on graduate school.

Q: What are some suggestions you have for professors to increase student engagement, or simply to make classes better?

Samantha from our panel noted that last spring, as Clemson was transitioning from face to face to all-online classes, she was still getting “paper” assignments. That is, professors were asking for students to print things out for submission, which was quite difficult for her because she didn’t have a home printer. She recommended professors use digital submission formats, whether the class is fully online or not. (note: check with us at Clemson Online for best practices related to Canvas assignments!) Our panelist Raleigh mentioned that it’s very helpful for students if instructors are honest about their limits – that it’s reassuring to tell students that you don’t know everything, or that you’re just as unsure as they are about what might happen next in a pandemic.

Q: Do you have any feedback about taking online exams?

More than one of our panelists said that taking exams at home with proctoring tools can be anxiety-inducing. While they understood the reasons for using these tools, they advocated for faculty to try different kinds of exams that might reduce the need for remote proctoring, including group tests, open book exams, and more subjective questions.

We will share more from the panel on our next post – stay tuned!

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