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Survey: What Students Want to Retain Post-Pandemic

college student with laptop

A recent survey from Top Hat asked college students about their online learning experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and their expectations for instruction in the Fall 2021 academic term. The researchers polled 3,052 students across the United States and Canada, representing a variety of institution types and years of study. Top Hat is an all-in-one courseware platform with interactive content, tools and activities to enable active learning.

Overall, 80 percent of student respondents did not feel that their instruction during the pandemic was worth the cost of tuition, and 54 percent would prefer to learn primarily in person once campuses can safely reopen. Yet a healthy portion — 46 percent — would like some features of online learning to remain in place going forward.

Among the elements students would like to continue incorporating into their education:

  • 84 percent of respondents want the ability to access learning materials, lectures and assignments in one place;
  • 75 percent want to be able to view lecture recordings;
  • 59 percent want the flexibility to attend classes in person or virtually;
  • 56 percent want to use in-class engagement technologies such as live chat, discussion and polling tools;
  • 53 percent want interactive textbooks that allow them to assess their learning as they go;
  • 49 percent want instructors to continue offering virtual office hours using videoconferencing tools; and
  • 43 percent want to keep working with digital course materials such as lecture slides, online homework assignments and readings.

The survey also asked students what they wanted from faculty in their higher education experience:

  • 85 percent wanted faculty to provide academic feedback to ensure students are successful;
  • 79 percent wanted opportunities to develop transferable skills (such as communication, collaboration and analytical skills);
  • 76 percent wanted their learning to be relevant and applicable to real-world issues; and
  • 67 percent wanted faculty to make learning active through discussion, peer collaboration and interactive activities.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed fundamental challenges within higher education to provide meaningful learning experiences for students," commented Nick Stein, chief marketing officer for Top Hat, in a statement. "These challenges will not simply disappear once students return to the physical classroom. The inability of institutions of higher education to consistently provide equitable access, a sense of belonging and engaging and motivating learning experiences has led the majority of students to openly question the value of a college degree. In order to address this troubling perception, we as an industry need to focus on improving the teaching and learning experience itself, while also ensuring equitable access to that experience for all students."

The full report is available on the Top Hat site.

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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