A survey looks at what expectations college and university students have for instruction and educational value in the fall 2021 academic term and the learning experience.

Lessons from a year of pandemic learning


A survey looks at what expectations college and university students have for instruction and educational value in the fall 2021 academic term

A recent survey of more than 3,000 higher ed students, conducted partway through the Spring 2021 term, was designed to determine what student sentiments are about the learning experience a year into the COVID-19 pandemic: what has worked, what hasn’t, and how the past year has shaped student expectations for the learning experience once it is safe to return to campus.

The survey results report three key insights. First, 80 percent of students surveyed do not feel the learning experience has been worth the cost of tuition. Second, survey respondents have appreciated the flexibility of remote learning and while they are looking forward to a return to the physical classroom, most want to see elements of online learning continue. Third, when it comes to realizing the value of their investment, on-campus experiences and activities are not nearly as significant a factor as the role of instructors in the classroom.

The Top Hat Field Report: 3,052 College Students on the Good, the Bad and Learning Post-COVID survey was conducted by Top Hat, an active learning courseware platform for higher education. The report provides insights to help institutions and educators create the right conditions for more students to receive and perceive meaningful value from their college investment as they plan ahead for fall 2021.

The impact of financial, mental health, and access considerations

It has been a year since higher ed institutions pivoted to emergency remote learning. Many students continue to view it as worse than in-person instruction. This survey revealed that fewer than one in five (19 percent) students agree that the learning experience has been worth the cost of tuition, and less than half (45 percent) feel engaged and motivated in their coursework.

Shannon O'Connor, Editor at Large, eCampus News
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