Thank you to all who participated (39%) in the HEDS COVID-19 Student Survey, which was administered April 27 – May 11, 2020. Findings are summarized and include a comparison group of other institutions who participated in the survey (denoted by HEDS in the graph legend). If you are interested in more information, please contact research.admin@lawrence.edu.

Institutional Support:

The majority (80%+) of Lawrence students agreed staff and administration did a good job protecting students and expressed care or concern while responding to COVID-19 and while making changes in their courses. About three-quarters agreed we did a good job helping students adapt. However, only half knew whom to contact if they had questions about how COVID-19 would affect their educational plans.

Lawrence students reported higher satisfaction levels with institutional response than HEDS students, especially when it came to communicating about how changes would impact their financial situation (54% Lawrence vs. 46% HEDS). More than three-quarters (77%) of Lawrence students were satisfied with the communication they were getting from Lawrence about its ongoing response to COVID-19 compared to HEDS students (74%). Lawrence students were more satisfied (63%) with the support they received in helping transition to distance learning compared to HEDS students (61%).

Emotional Health:

The vast majority (93% of Lawrence and 91% of HEDS) of students reported feeling “some” or “a great deal” of stress.

Several themes emerged after reading through student comments. Lawrence students worried about the uncertainty of fall term (whether it would be distance learning, and the impact of the pandemic on their academic plans), the disappointment and loss associated with missed milestones, and their mental health.

Lawrence and HEDS students worried most about academic performance and social relationships. The top worry for Lawrence (60%) and HEDS (57%) students was academic performance. Lawrence students (51%) were more worried about loss of social relationships compared to HEDS students (42%). The third highest worry varied for Lawrence and HEDS students. Lawrence students (36%) were more worried about having access to healthcare than HEDS students (21%) while HEDS (38%) students were more worried about paying their bills than Lawrence (27%) students.

The overwhelming majority of Lawrence (83%) and HEDS (81%) students reported feeling disconnected or not connected.

Distance Learning:

The transition to distance learning yielded a mixed response. About half of Lawrence students described the transition as positive, that is “great” (6%) or “good” (41%) while the other half described it as negative, that is “not good” (25%) or “terrible” (15%), or chose to remain neutral (13%).

Nearly half (45%) of students preferred a mixed or hybrid approach to distance learning. The remaining students preferred an asynchronous (31%) approach over a synchronous (24%) one.

Students reported similar instructional platforms and modalities being utilized across campus. Students reported using a variety of learning platforms (Moodle, Zoom, Open Learning Initiative, Flipgrid, Vista Higher Learning, Sibelius, zyBooks, and Sapling Learning), citing pros and cons of each.

Comments by students revealed they liked a sense of “normalcy”, human interaction, and flexible pacing in their distance courses. They disliked lack of engagement, lack of structure, and side effects of prolonged screen-time.

Recommendations:

Based on the survey findings and comments, the Office of Research Administration made three main recommendations:

Invest in improving the quality of distance learning

Address students’ worries and uncertainties

Support students and improve their sense of connection to Lawrence

Who did we share the data with?

We shared the final findings including subgroup analyses (by first-generation students, Pell recipients, students of color, and sometimes gender) with many on campus including the President, Provost, Vice President for Enrollment and Communication, Vice President for Student Life, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion, Associate Dean of the Faculty, Wellness Services, Center for Academic Success, Instructional Technology, committees (Student Success, Instruction, and Freshman Studies Advisory), and the Lawrence University Pandemic Planning Team (chairs and/or co-chairs) of the five working groups.

How were the data used?

These data were used to inform decision-making for fall 2020. In particular, the Instruction Committee relied on the HEDS COVID-19 Student and Faculty Survey data to gain an understanding of what worked well (and not so well) in spring 2020; they produced several documents containing instructional guidance for fall 2020 as a result, which were shared with faculty.