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May 19, 2020

Student Voices: The Do’s and Don’ts of Online Teaching from College Students’ Perspectives

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash

The abrupt transition from in-person to online classes challenged both college students and professors, forcing us all to adapt to new environments that for many are not conducive to a learning or teaching atmosphere. While many college students had to adjust to a college course-load without essential on-campus resources, professors had to adjust their syllabi and techniques to fit an online class schedule.   

As someone who just finished finals and found herself severely struggling to stay focused because of the online learning format of everything, I thought I’d ask around to figure out what techniques professors at different universities used that either helped or hindered college students. 

Caroline, a friend of mine at California Polytechnic State University, “found it very hard to succeed and stay engaged in [her] Pols 359 class because the teacher didn’t schedule any weekly lectures. All she did was randomly upload some lectures every few weeks which wasn’t very helpful because everyone was still confused about her expectations for assignments.” 


Cassie, a friend of mine who is a sophomore at UC Santa Barbara, had one professor who seemed to address Caroline’s problem.   Cassie , noteding how she appreciated the professors who mixed live lectures with recorded ones, “so you could get questions answered live and hear other peoples questions, but also have those lectures recorded so that people who couldn’t make it were able to listen too.” She also mentioned one class that “had a student forum where [students] could ask questions and either a TA or another student could answer, which was so helpful since you can’t really meet friends and form a study group.”


Rose, a sophomore at UC Davis, had one professor who made sure to frame her online course to help students stay on track, noting how “[her] communication teacher post[ed] a weekly announcement that ha[d] a list of everything that [she needed] to complete during the week and any reminders or upcoming assignments to look out for.” 

For Kira, a sophomore at Haverford College, she found that the most helpful professors “held office hours where they would just be on Zoom and [college students] could pop on whenever during that time frame to ask questions.” In terms of crafting a doable work schedule, she found it easier to do well when teachers had routine assignments, like her 6 PM Biology quizzes that took place every Monday. 


Evidently, there were some professors who successfully changed their teaching style to help college students and some who did not.


For me, the sign of whether or not a professor’s online teaching style worked was whether or not I felt prepared for finals with just the resources I had at home.


Similar to the experiences of most of my friends, I noticed that the exams and papers I struggled the least with were in the classes that had teachers who did both asynchronous recorded lectures and opportunities for live lectures. This seems to better help those college students who are struggling–– whether it be from a lack of secure wifi, limited laptop access, or just less time to focus on studies––  to actually do well in their courses and not fall behind.  


Each day the likelihood that online classes will continue into the fall semester increases, making it that much more important for professors to implement the teaching techniques that can work for college students from all backgrounds who have been adversely affected by quarantine. 

Photograph of Lily Westover
Lily Westover
Student Blogger

Lily Westover is in the Class of 2022 at Georgetown University.  

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