Effectiveness of Remote Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Spring 2020: A Survey of Engineering and Computer Science Students

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Conference Title

ASEE Annual Conference and Exposition, Conference Proceedings

Date of Presentation



Like most other universities in the United States, classes and labs at University of the Pacific went fully virtual in March 2020 as a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Prior to this event, all classes were taught in face-to-face synchronous mode. At the end of the semester, we administered a survey to students in the School of Engineering and Computer Science asking for feedback on their remote learning experience. In addition to numerical ratings, specific feedback was sought using the following questions: • What elements of remote delivery were effective/not effective? • Do you have any specific suggestions for improving delivery of course or lab content in remote environments? • What elements of the remote environment made it easy to learn/difficult to learn? • Do you have any specific suggestions that could improve students' ability to learn in remote environments? • What elements of the remote environment made it easy/difficult to complete your work? • Do you have any specific suggestions for things that could make it easier for students to complete their work in remote environments? • Top three factors that affected your learning negatively/positively. We received 48 responses that included over 400 individual comments. Student demographic data indicated that responses were received from students in all years, although most respondents were seniors. Responses were analyzed using the ASCE ExCEEd Teaching Model. Comments were coded manually using a spreadsheet and also categorized using MAXQDA qualitative data analysis software and were checked for consistency between the two methods used. Students' comments predominantly addressed appropriate use of technology, student engagement in the class or lab, and structured organization of the material and activities presented synchronously and asynchronously. Findings of the survey were shared with faculty in the School to inform preparation for, and teaching in, Fall 2020. Survey results, the analysis approach used, and observations are presented in this paper. The ASCE ExCEEd Teaching Model proved to be a valuable framework for cataloging and analyzing over 400 comments provided by students. Analysis of the comments showed that students prefer live classes with recorded lectures for later use together with ample opportunity for office hours and contact and communication with faculty and their peers.

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