Structures and Adaptations to Foster Student Success in the COVID-19 Pandemic Learning Environment

Document Type

Conference Presentation


Electrical and Computer Engineering

Conference Title

Proceedings - SEFI 49th Annual Conference: Blended Learning in Engineering Education: Challenging, Enlightening - and Lasting?

Date of Presentation



Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all engineering courses at University of the Pacific were offered in an online modality during the Fall 2020 semester. The learning environment for students in social isolation is a challenging one; studies show that social isolation can cause negative psychological effects which can adversely affect academic performance. The online medium also offers challenges related to keeping students engaged while delivering content and administering examinations in the absence of proctoring resources. Synchronous class meetings to give students a structured schedule, use of breakout rooms to help students connect with each another, use of a tablet PC with ink annotation of skeleton notes to keep students engaged during class meetings, and changes in the design of exams (to help assess student knowledge without the bias caused by access to text and online resources) are some of the structures and adaptations employed to foster student success in this challenging environment. A comparison of student performance between the Fall 2019 in-person offering and the Fall 2020 online offering of an introductory Digital Signal Processing course was done to evaluate whether the adaptations helped to combat the negative effects of social isolation on academic performance, and the availability of resources during exams that might artificially boost exam scores. Hypothesis testing showed that the adaptations helped accomplish both objectives: an independent samples t test performed to compare the mean composite student scores of the two groups showed no statistically significant differences (p = 0.77) between the population means.

First Page


Last Page


This document is currently not available here.