COVID-19 Impacts at a Small Mid-Atlantic Liberal-Arts College with Implications for STEM Education
- Wesley College, COVID-19, STEM student, Online, e-learning, Faculty.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, with very little preparation and within a brief span of 48 hours, the Wesley College STEM faculty and students triaged into a remote-only form of instruction. Wesley College STEM student COVID-19 impact surveys showed underlying gaps in economic equity, increased family responsibilities, struggles to stay motivated, social isolation, and higher levels of psychological stress. Yet, the crisis demonstrated new ways in which technology can be harnessed and allowed STEM students to reconsider how jobs and skills should be aligned. A STEM faculty COVID-19 check-in survey and interview responses revealed a quick realization that faculty could not rely solely on Wesley’s Jenzebar learning management system (MyWesley). To engage their students and to create a supportive learning environment, STEM faculty sought new strategies and approaches for a diverse set of STEM learners. For synchronous e-teaching, the faculty used the Microsoft-Teams and the Zoom video conferencing platforms. Faculty only adopted MyWesley to execute dedicated asynchronous tasks (laboratory assignments, reports, exams). The STEM students were overwhelmingly positive about STEM faculty availability during the crisis. Still, both faculty and students indicated a much stronger preference for the face-to-face delivery of their course content via a traditional classroom setting.