How have students remote learning experiences during COVID-19 positively and negatively impacted their learning?

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, courses at Westfield State University in the Spring (second half) and Fall 2020 semesters were predominately taught remotely. Both undergraduates and instructors scrambled to adjust to synchronous, asynchronous remote and hybrid teaching and learning. Through surveys (n=130) and interviews (n= 9) this small pilot study seeks to begin to answer the following: In what ways have students' remote course experiences during COVID 19 positively and negatively impacted their learning? Questions focused on general demographics, living locations, and comparisons between face-to-face and remote learning related to distractions, overall learning experiences, and interactions with instructors. Data was analyzed to report general trends. The majority of students reported that they were comfortable completing schoolwork remotely and their technology worked well. In addition, instructors cared about their ability to learn and were understanding about technology problems, took time to communicate effectively and ensure that they received feedback in a timely manner. More first year students reported being satisfied with their learning experiences despite the change to online learning and felt their experiences were effective. However, most students reported issues with distractions in their various living situations, had a lack of desire to participate in class, and struggled to pay attention during classes. Students also had a challenging time with getting to know their instructors and felt they did not retain as much information in the Zoom classroom. The study also makes recommendations for the University’s response to future similar crises.