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TTU Student and Faculty Generally Happy With Fall

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
TTU Student and Faculty Generally Happy With Fall

Tennessee Tech students and faculty are generally happy with how fall classes have gone during the COVID pandemic.

That’s from a set of Tech surveys and focus groups conducted over the last several weeks. Provost Lori Bruce said the school addressed classes, resources and communication.

Among the feedback, students miss the interaction with peers.

“That natural congregating isn’t happening as much and students communicated that they felt like it was impacting their ability to study effectively,” Bruce said. “The upperclassmen said that they felt like it was impacting their ability to mentor the underclassmen. A lot of the seniors said that they often meet and use clubs and organizations to help shepherd and mentor the younger students.”

Bruce said her biggest takeaway was how many people wanted to give positive feedback on classes during the pandemic. Bruce said it highlights how important keeping flexibility for class options will be when going into the Spring.

She said the small class sizes at Tech will play a big part in this moving forward.

“Lets say I’m teaching an in-person class and one of the students get exposed by a family member and they need to go into quarantine,” Bruce said. “One student out of 20, it’s easier for the faculty member to be flexible with that student and say, ‘okay, you can be online while the other people remain in-person,’ if you’re teaching a very large section that becomes very challenging.”

Bruce said 80 percent of students felt neutral to extremely satisfied with courses and faculty interaction. For virtual learning, Bruce said students felt more material was being covered, at a faster rate. While she said faculty found online classes to move slower.

“I think they all think it’s more work… I think the faculty feel that it’s more challenging to teach in a new modality that they’ve never taught in before,” Bruce said. “The students feel that it’s more work being in a new modality.”

She said the reality is probably somewhere in between.

“Where I think there is a discrepancy is the students feel like they’re going through the material faster and there’s more material,” Bruce said. “The faculty feel like, ‘no, we’re going slower through the material,’ that’s a perception… The truth is probably somewhere in the middle.”

Bruce said after the survey she feels staying agile and continuing to collaborate on procedures will be key to the Spring Semester. Although, she says one big change from the Fall to Spring Semester is the faculty’s perception of students following COVID protocol.

“A lot of faculty were very nervous coming into Fall… ‘Will the students really socially distance, will they really wear their face covering?” Bruce said. “I couldn’t tell you how proud we are of our students. They have done what we asked of them and they’re really the reason we’re still being able to remain predominantly in-person.”

TTU received 2852 survey responses from students, which is 26 percent of the student population. 383 faculty members participated, a 56 percent survey return.


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