The survey also shows that socioeconomic inequities are impacting student success more than ever. Students from lower income families are four times less likely to be engaged in their online and remote studies.

“Although 2020 has created stressful moments of transition, it has also opened up opportunities and accelerated many changes that were beginning to take place in higher education,” says Melissa Loble, Chief Customer Experience Officer at Instructure. “Colleges and universities have become much more agile in decision-making and we’re seeing more and more siloes breaking down. Now, more than ever, it’s critical for colleges and universities to better understand what students need to be successful and engaged.”

Career preparation and faculty-to-student engagement are critical

A primary aim of the research was to understand how students’ academic success is defined today and how engaged students are with their education. It also aimed to identify factors most critical to students achieving that desired state of success and what kept them most engaged along the way.

  • Work/career readiness was ranked as the most critical measure of student success as well as the top challenge to overcome in the next 12 months.
  • 69 percent of students reported feeling engaged with their classes and coursework.
  • 80 percent of respondents ranked work or career preparation as the most critical measure of student success.
  • When asked about the factors that help to drive student success, 88 percent of respondents identified quality of faculty and 86 percent said engaging content or hands-on instruction.

“This year, perhaps more than any year in recent memory, we are seeing students actively engaged in how their educational trajectory will lead to a career trajectory,” says Karen Freberg, Associate Professor at the University of Louisville. “It means that as educators, we have an opportunity to create an even more engaging class experience whether online or in person and help our students develop marketable skills like agility and remote adaptability.”

Socioeconomic disparities are impacting engagement

The research explored the impact that socioeconomic factors have on students’ ability to succeed or remain engaged in their studies.

  • 2.5x more students from upper economic class households reported feeling extremely engaged in their classes and coursework than their lower income peers (56 percent v. 21 percent).
  • 4x more students from lower economic class households reported it difficult to stay very engaged with remote or online learning compared to those from upper economic class households (11 percent v. 48 percent).
  • 43 percent of students from upper economics class households reported that grade point average was extremely important to their measure of success. Only 26 percent of students from lower economic class households found it extremely important.
  • Among students who responded feeling the least engaged, 65 percent self-identified being in a lower economic class, 55 percent reported having a lack of access to technology when they were in high school, and 50 percent reported growing up in a home with no parents, or raised by a guardian.

The global impact of COVID-19 has created immense challenges, but also improved views on remote learning

Students: COVID hasn't helped academic success

The research also explored the impact to student success that the global pandemic is having among higher education students and the difficulty they’ve experienced trying to keep up with their studies. It also discovered improved attitudes toward online learning.

  • Nearly 70 percent of students report that they are falling behind on their studies due to the pandemic.
  • 85 percent of respondents said that COVID-19 was most impacting student success. 71 percent cited its impact on academic progress.
  • Regionally, students in Asia-Pacific countries (78 percent) were much more likely to report that COVID-19 negatively impacted student engagement compared to their peers in EMEA (62 percent) and the United States (75 percent).
  • More than 60 percent of administrators and 50 percent of students say they have a more positive attitude and preference toward online learning.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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About the Author:

Laura Ascione

Laura Ascione is the Managing Editor, Content Services at eSchool Media. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland's prestigious Philip Merrill College of Journalism. Find Laura on Twitter: @eSN_Laura

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