Provost Springer’s doctoral research focused on the experience of LIM faculty in teaching in online and hybrid modalities in the context of innovations the College has made in increasing distance education opportunities.
Her qualitative study, titled Culture Shift in Online Learning: Why Faculty Engagement Matters, analyzed focus group conversations with 45 LIM faculty members that took place in the two weeks immediately following all classes having pivoted to a remote format in the Spring 2020 semester due to the COVID-19 pandemic. These focus groups included representation from full-time, adjunct, undergraduate and graduate faculty members.
The data revealed the value faculty place on autonomy, the tension they identified between autonomy and consistency across courses, and the value faculty place on community, collaboration, and support.
Said Dr. Springer, “Faculty made meaning of their experience, expressing pride in their students and their own successes. And, while they identified challenges in distance education, they also not only identified advantages to learning remotely, but predicted that the future of learning will be forever altered by the experience of learning differently during the pandemic.”
Recommendations from the study include creating continued opportunities for faculty to describe their experience teaching remotely, creating spaces for faculty to share insights and experiences with one another, ensuring that professional development opportunities highlight that technological tools are in service of learning goals, and remembering that the online experience is different and supports should be designed accordingly.
A particularly significant recommendation was that LIM take full advantage of the many possibilities of both in-person and virtual offerings when determining modalities for future course offerings.
Continued Dr. Springer, “Post COVID-19, students will likely have a keen appreciation of the advantages of being in person. But their attraction to hybrid classes, with some in-person and some virtual classes, will also likely grow. This gives LIM College the opportunity to be at the forefront of combining the benefits of on-campus instruction with the benefits of online learning to create an academic experience that mirrors the transformation taking place in the working world.”