Engineering Faculty Experience During Emergency Remote Teaching: A Case Study
In March 2020, colleges and universities around the world abruptly transitioned from in-person teaching to emergency remote teaching. The purpose of this case study was to examine how one engineering faculty member responded to this change in teaching format through a lens of adaptability.
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[00:00:01.190]Hello, my name is Dorian Bobbett.
[00:00:03.210]And this summer I conducted research
[00:00:04.900]with Dr. Grace Panther on a research project titled,
[00:00:07.930]Engineering Faculty Experience
[00:00:09.690]During Emergency Remote Instruction: A Case Study.
[00:00:12.840]this research project looks specifically
[00:00:14.880]at how one engineering faculty member
[00:00:16.870]adapted to teaching remotely
[00:00:18.360]over the course of three semesters: spring 2020,
[00:00:21.530]fall 2020, and spring 2021.
[00:00:24.490]First, we'll talk about some important background
[00:00:26.660]for this project.
[00:00:32.090]It's important to understand
[00:00:33.350]what engineering teaching and learning looked like
[00:00:35.440]before the pandemic,
[00:00:36.470]in order to understand how it changed
[00:00:38.220]within the context of COVID-19.
[00:00:40.780]Due to the hands-on nature
[00:00:42.150]of many engineering courses in labs,
[00:00:44.120]it's traditionally been very difficult for institutions
[00:00:46.920]to offer remote engineering degree programs.
[00:00:49.700]However, recently, there has been a shift
[00:00:51.700]to incorporate online engineering courses
[00:00:53.810]into traditional programs
[00:00:55.470]in order to best support students.
[00:00:57.670]This desire to offer online engineering courses
[00:01:00.280]comes largely from students' needs
[00:01:02.050]for affordable and accessible education.
[00:01:04.530]Whether they're a non-traditional student
[00:01:06.210]looking to go back to school
[00:01:07.440]and pursue an engineering degree,
[00:01:09.200]or if they simply need more flexibility
[00:01:11.010]in their learning schedule
[00:01:12.080]to make the most out of their undergraduate career.
[00:01:16.290]There are a few of these programs in place currently,
[00:01:19.060]but many are still in the development phase,
[00:01:21.040]meaning that there simply aren't the same amount
[00:01:22.900]of course offerings available in the online format.
[00:01:26.650]This changed quickly when the COVID-19 pandemic hit
[00:01:29.560]in March of 2020, and many universities
[00:01:32.090]pivoted to a completely online education system.
[00:01:35.330]Emergency remote teaching, or ERT,
[00:01:38.060]is defined as a temporary shift
[00:01:39.850]in instruction delivery methods due to a crisis situation.
[00:01:43.805]ERT differs from traditional online learning,
[00:01:47.060]largely in the amount of time faculty have
[00:01:49.220]to prepare their course to be taught in a remote format,
[00:01:51.950]as well as the desire to teach in that format,
[00:01:54.280]and the resources that faculty have access to
[00:01:56.540]when teaching remotely.
[00:01:59.250]In this study,
[00:02:00.083]we'll explore how faculty demonstrated adaptability
[00:02:02.770]in the context of this shift to ERT.
[00:02:05.820]Adaptability is defined as one's ability
[00:02:08.160]to regulate their psychobehavioral functions
[00:02:10.430]in the face of new, changing, or uncertain situations.
[00:02:14.310]There are three domains of adaptability: cognitive,
[00:02:16.930]emotional, and behavioral.
[00:02:18.640]For this case study, we'll be focusing exclusively
[00:02:21.110]on examples of behavioral adaptability.
[00:02:23.720]This framework has typically been used
[00:02:25.380]in K-12 education studies,
[00:02:27.360]but is recently being used more frequently
[00:02:29.740]in higher education,
[00:02:30.960]as adaptability is vital to effective teaching.
[00:02:36.890]The research questions
[00:02:37.840]that will be addressed in this case study are:
[00:02:40.350]How did successes and challenges
[00:02:41.990]that one faculty member faced
[00:02:43.680]change over the course of remote instruction?
[00:02:46.260]How did the challenges that one faculty member faced
[00:02:48.680]during ERT impact their behaviors?
[00:02:52.103]how did one faculty member's behavioral adaptability
[00:02:54.790]lead to teaching successes during ERT?
[00:03:00.010]Our participants for this study were engineering faculty
[00:03:02.610]at a Midwest R1 university.
[00:03:05.040]We collected data from participants
[00:03:06.720]through surveys and interviews across the spring 2020,
[00:03:09.430]fall 2020, and spring 2021 semesters.
[00:03:12.780]Questions in these surveys and interviews
[00:03:14.650]focused on how faculty were experiencing ERT.
[00:03:17.550]For example, what challenges they had faced,
[00:03:19.750]or how their conversations around teaching had changed.
[00:03:23.080]We then chose one participant to build a case study on,
[00:03:25.740]largely due to their full participation
[00:03:27.600]in all data collection,
[00:03:29.520]The data was coded deductively for three themes,
[00:03:32.220]as shown in this table.
[00:03:36.130]We looked at teaching challenges, which were defined
[00:03:38.240]as teaching difficulties the instructor faced due to ERT,
[00:03:41.740]and included things like academic dishonesty among students,
[00:03:44.920]lack of student engagement,
[00:03:46.270]or struggling with new technologies.
[00:03:48.600]We also coded for behavioral regulation.
[00:03:50.860]The instructor's ability to change their behaviors
[00:03:52.970]in order to adapt to ERT.
[00:03:55.300]Examples of this type of adaptability
[00:03:57.240]included changing grading systems,
[00:03:59.100]implementing a flipped classroom model,
[00:04:01.070]or simply holding additional office hours
[00:04:02.930]to best support their students.
[00:04:05.290]Teaching successes were also coded for,
[00:04:07.190]and are defined as positive outcomes
[00:04:08.860]due to an action taken by the instructor
[00:04:10.880]while adapting to ERT.
[00:04:12.890]Teaching successes could be increasing student engagement,
[00:04:15.920]good exam scores on a remote exam,
[00:04:17.880]or successfully utilizing a new technology in the classroom.
[00:04:23.190]These challenges, behaviors, and successes
[00:04:25.220]were used to build narrative maps.
[00:04:27.610]Narrative maps can be thought of as parallel timelines,
[00:04:30.290]with time passing as you move left to right.
[00:04:32.950]The bottom timeline is the experience level,
[00:04:35.310]and consists of the actual challenges and successes
[00:04:37.880]that the faculty member experienced during ERT.
[00:04:41.170]The top timeline is the adaptation level,
[00:04:43.550]and displays all of the behavioral adaptations
[00:04:45.870]the faculty member made to either address a problem
[00:04:48.510]or to continue a success.
[00:04:51.930]Here's an example of a narrative map
[00:04:53.500]that was built around a challenge
[00:04:54.940]that the faculty member experienced with grading.
[00:04:57.710]The first challenge was the inability
[00:04:59.230]to continue using the peer grading method
[00:05:01.070]that they traditionally used in the classroom
[00:05:03.240]after the shift to ERT occurred.
[00:05:06.380]We can see that they address this issue
[00:05:07.910]by utilizing a new technology,
[00:05:09.520]and opening up assignments for peer grading on Canvas.
[00:05:12.510]The success comes from students
[00:05:14.010]offering their peers helpful, thoughtful feedback
[00:05:16.320]in this platform.
[00:05:17.270]And the faculty member continues this behavior
[00:05:19.320]as they found it successful.
[00:05:22.790]Here we can see the specific examples
[00:05:24.590]directly from the interviews
[00:05:26.200]of how the faculty member described this experience.
[00:05:29.030]That first challenge is described clearly.
[00:05:31.227]"Normally in class,
[00:05:32.370]I pull up a rubric and solution and we just grade.
[00:05:35.330]But due to the pandemic, I can't ask students
[00:05:37.730]to physically look at someone else's paper."
[00:05:41.120]We can then see the specific behavioral adaptation
[00:05:43.530]the faculty member made to address this challenge.
[00:05:46.267]"Having this peer review thing outside of class in Canvas,
[00:05:49.160]that was absolutely a response to the changed conditions."
[00:05:53.140]Finally, we can see how the faculty member
[00:05:54.840]describes their teaching success
[00:05:56.460]and continuation of the behavior.
[00:05:58.677]"A lot of the students' comments
[00:06:00.050]seemed like they were thoughtful,
[00:06:01.210]and they were targeting what I asked them to target.
[00:06:03.370]It kind of gave me some reassurance to continue to do that."
[00:06:09.100]That was just a single grading example of 10 narrative maps,
[00:06:12.100]following different challenges
[00:06:13.380]that this faculty member faced and adapted to during ERT.
[00:06:17.070]Course delivery challenges were separated
[00:06:18.930]into five categories: exams, grading,
[00:06:22.290]remote delivery tools, student engagement, and teamwork.
[00:06:26.000]And two narrative maps were created for each challenge type.
[00:06:29.400]I found that some of these challenges
[00:06:30.950]were more persistent than others,
[00:06:32.390]and proved to be challenging for this faculty member
[00:06:34.520]across all three semesters,
[00:06:36.270]while others were easily adapted to.
[00:06:38.880]Many of these adaptations
[00:06:40.270]came in the form of new teaching strategies,
[00:06:43.060]new communication methods, new technology,
[00:06:47.910]Oftentimes, these adaptations
[00:06:49.520]directly led to teaching successes.
[00:06:51.790]Recognizing this pattern and the importance of adaptability
[00:06:54.930]will help instructors
[00:06:55.880]develop and maintain best teaching practices,
[00:06:58.870]as well as help institutions establish the best ways
[00:07:01.820]to support faculty when they are teaching in a crisis.
[00:07:05.220]The next steps in this project
[00:07:06.570]are to build out even more case studies,
[00:07:08.600]as well as to look at the cognitive and emotional domains
[00:07:11.130]of adaptability, in order to build a holistic view
[00:07:14.020]of what it truly was like
[00:07:15.280]to be an engineering faculty member
[00:07:16.870]while teaching during a crisis.
[00:07:21.080]I would like to thank Dr. Grace Panther,
[00:07:22.710]my faculty mentor on this project,
[00:07:24.760]as well as Dr. Heidi Diefes-Dux and Dr Abeera Rehmat
[00:07:27.570]for their support.
[00:07:28.890]I would also like to thank the National Science Foundation
[00:07:30.940]for making this project possible.
[00:07:32.670]And I would like to thank the UNL McNair Scholars Program
[00:07:35.130]for their support throughout this entire project.
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