Online courses get failing grades from tech students
University students were highly unsatisfied with courses that were held online over the spring semester due the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report.
That was one of the findings in a survey conducted by four engineering universities: KAIST, Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST), Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology (Dgist) and Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (Unist). The four schools questioned more than 1,000 students at the beginning and end of the spring semester.
At the beginning of the semester, the students were asked to rank their satisfaction level for online courses, and respondents gave a score of 5.2 out of 7. That score fell to 4.6 at the end of the semester. For courses that involved lab experiments, 43.4 percent of respondents said they were unsatisfied, and only 8.8 percent said they were satisfied.
Some 56.2 percent said the “absence of fellow students” was the biggest inconvenience. Online courses had removed their opportunity to build relations with their fellow students, respondents said.
Of all respondents, only 1.3 percent said they were able to make friends during the semester. Sixty-one percent said they felt anxiety, loneliness and depression because the courses were held online.
“As part of efforts to combat the coronavirus, it’s time to start considering people’s mental health as well,” the report concluded.
Others were unhappy about technical issues: 49.5 percent said “network connections” were a problem, while “server instability” troubled 43.5 percent. Multiple answers were allowed.
Poor concentration and an overload of assignments were other difficulties cited.
Asked whether holding classes online accelerated the learning process, students gave a score of 4.8 out of 7. They gave an even higher score of 5.3 when asked whether “online lectures gave more assignments and quizzes compared to offline courses.”
Students gave a score of 3.4 when asked if they were "allowed to concentrate more on online lectures compared to offline." They gave a 3.1 score to the statement, “Online lectures motivate me to study.”
The biggest dissatisfaction was with courses with lab experiments.
Forty-three percent of respondents said online lectures did not effectively replace lab experiments. A full 63.1 percent agreed that “courses that contain lab experiments cannot be held online.”
“Although online lectures are considered to be more convenient as they are free from space and time constraints, it turns out that online lectures cause poor interactions between students and are surely less effective than offline classes,” said Kim Hi-sam, a professor at GIST who directed the research.
Kim added that several issues need to be solved regarding online lectures including “strengthened communication between professors and students, acquiring better network connections […] and artificial intelligence-based personalized learning tools for individuals.”
BY PARK HYUNG-SOO [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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