College Student Attitudes About Different Course Modalities During COVID-19




Sweeney, Lauren

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The COVID-19 pandemic has profoundly impacted student life. In the classroom, students have had increased exposure to online courses, particularly synchronous online formats. Although previous research has compared student experiences in online versus face-to-face classes, most of that research predates the pandemic and focuses on asynchronous online delivery. Thus, the goal of the current study was to gather a large dataset of student impressions related to COVID with a focus on comparing experiences across course modalities. In Fall 2021, we collected online survey data from N=598 Texas State undergraduate students (74% female, 24% male, 2% non-binary), the majority (75%) of whom were in their first year. Respondents completed several blocks of questions: (1) preferences for different course modalities (e.g., face-to-face, synchronous online); (2) attention during different modalities; (3) perceived impact of COVID on classroom and non-classroom campus experiences; and (4) nervousness about various aspects of returning to campus. The majority of students (53.2%) chose face-to- face as their most preferred format, although some students (15.0%) did rate face-to-face as their least preferred. Students also rated face-to-face formats most highly (M = 4.15 out of 5), followed by hybrid (M = 3.61), asynchronous online (M = 3.41), and synchronous online (M = 2.94) (all ps<.001). Overall, students also reported attending a significantly higher percentage of face-to-face versus synchronous and asynchronous online lectures and checking their phone significantly less often in face-to-face formats. There was variability in student impressions about the effects of COVID on their college experience. Roughly a third of the sample (38.6%) thought that online classes had a positive impact on their grades and a third (33.3%) thought the opposite, although there were higher levels of agreement for other questions (e.g., 71.6% preferred in-person student organizations). In exploratory analyses, we found higher conscientiousness and higher social support were related to increased preference for face-to-face classes. Overall, findings from this study indicate that students show great variability in their responses to COVID-related changes in the college experience. Ultimately, we hope that this study is a starting point for larger studies examining how preferences relate to learning outcomes, including surveys of teacher impressions. This body of work could improve student academic outcomes and well-being.



COVID-19, university, college, personality, preference, school closures, remote learning, synchronous, asynchronous, Zoom, in-person, distance education, Honors College


Sweeney, L. (2022). College student attitudes about different course modalities during COVID-19 (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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