← Back to News List

Students' Interest Shifts Toward Hybrid and Online Learning

Key Findings: Modality Preferences and Access Demands

Based on a national survey of undergraduates and IT, 18% of UMBC respondents stated a preference for courses that are mostly to fully online (compared to 33% nationally). That preference for online learning is up from approximately 6% pre-pandemic.  Additionally, 53% of UMBC students (compared with 41% nationally) indicated a preference for all or mostly face-to-face(F2F) instruction. By contrast, in 2018 and 2019 versions of the same survey, an average of 69% of UMBC respondents preferred all or mostly F2F instruction.

More than 800 students from a nationally representative sample responded to the 2022 “Undergraduates and IT” survey, which was  administered by the Educause Center for Applied Research (ECAR) in collaboration with Ipsos KnowledgePanel. UMBC has participated every year since 2006. ECAR data have been beneficial to inform decision making, particularly amidst the pandemic. Additionally, our involvement has provided critical insights for benchmarking trends such as the increasing ubiquity of smart devices, which has, in turn, allowed for advancements such as the adoption of phone-based responseware.

Interestingly, the ECAR  findings echo those of DoIT’s spring 2022 faculty survey, which indicated a shift in pre/post-pandemic teaching preference away from traditional face-to-face models. Additionally, based on their experiences with online and blended courses, 72% of students indicated they were just as or more likely to take a course with a similar modality again in the future.

Technology limitations, including network reliability and device access were principal themes highlighted by EDUCAUSE for their national responses, as was a general shift in instructional modality preference away from mostly face-to-face.

The ECAR results show two thirds of UMBC respondents with adequate internet connectivity either always or very often, while 23% only had adequate access sometimes. The majority of users (86%) struggled at least occasionally to find an internet connection, and half of respondents indicated that at some point their primary device lost connectivity to the internet during class, an exam, or another synchronous activity. Student connectivity can also impact other related domains, such as academic integrity, accommodations, and testing, as highlighted by a recent faculty survey.

Only 1% of survey respondents did not own a computer. The primary device for two thirds of users was a laptop, while another 19% use a desktop. Although half of those surveyed indicated using a smartphone as their secondary device, none use one as their primary solution. Only one in five respondents indicated encountering difficulties running required software on their device due to compatibility, memory, or other issues. Notably, nearly half of the students self-resolved the IT difficulties they encountered with their own knowledge and personal troubleshooting abilities, which is almost twice the rate of our institutional peer group. This outcome may be attributable to UMBC’s use of on-demand support FAQs along with show-and-tell screencasting.

As in years past, a 25% sample of the university’s undergraduate student population was conducted, and the survey was deployed toward the end of the Spring 2022 term using direct messaging through myUMBC. Response rates were lower this year than in past deployments, perhaps indicating a general survey fatigue associated with pandemic-related data gathering. Nonetheless, response rates were sufficient for reliable and valid conclusions, while our data aligned with and generally reflect those of our peer institutions.

Image by Freepik

Posted: October 13, 2022, 3:45 PM