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Nearly Half of Faculty Say Pandemic Changes to Teaching Are Here to Stay

In a recent survey, the majority of faculty (71 percent) reported that their teaching in Fall 2020 was "very different" or included a "number of changes" compared to pre-pandemic times. And almost half (47 percent) felt those changes would remain in place post-pandemic. That's according to Cengage's third Digital Learning Pulse Survey, conducted by Bay View Analytics in partnership with the Online Learning Consortium, WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies, University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) and Canadian Digital Learning Research Association. The survey polled 1,702 faculty at 967 institutions across the United States to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on teaching and learning in higher education.

Among the findings:

  • Fifty-one percent of faculty said they feel more positive about online learning today than pre-pandemic. Faculty were most satisfied with how efficiently they were able to communicate with students — but across the board, a majority of faculty were also satisfied with how efficiently the technology worked, how well students learned and how well students engaged in class.
  • Fifty-seven percent of faculty said they feel more positive about digital learning materials than pre-pandemic.
  • Seventy-one percent of faculty reported they make considerable use of digital materials today, compared to 25 percent pre-pandemic. And 81 percent said they expect digital material use to remain the same or increase post-pandemic.
  • Fifty-eight percent reported considerable use of online homework and courseware systems, more than doubling the pre-pandemic share of 22 percent. Seventy-four percent expected the use of those systems to remain the same or increase post-pandemic.
  • Only 8 percent of faculty said they would revert to their pre-pandemic teaching practices after the pandemic is over.

"The Fall 2020 term showed higher education faculty and administrators to be extremely agile and adaptable as their preparation over the summer allowed them to support a massive transition to online learning," said Jeff Seaman, lead researcher and director of Bay View Analytics, in a statement. "The change forced faculty to implement new teaching styles, many of which they intend to continue post-pandemic."

"It's clear that leaders in higher ed have taken away key lessons brought on by the pandemic and have a renewed appreciation for the value of online learning," commented Robert Hansen, chief executive officer of UPCEA. "Developing methodologies and processes to institutionalize these lessons into sustainable digital initiatives will benefit students, faculty and the institution immeasurably."

An infographic with the complete survey results is available on the Cengage site. A fourth and final installment of the Digital Learning Pulse Survey series is slated for this spring, and will incorporate students' views of their pandemic learning experiences.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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