SPARK: Class accommodations were made by professors due to COVID-19

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, professors needed to adjust their class formats in order to adapt to the challenges of the pandemic. 

Class styles included in person, mixed hybrid or a mix of in person and virtual, online synchronous and asynchronous. 

Assistant Professor of political science and international relations Amy Atchison has made strides to adapt her classroom environment to ensure that all students feel comfortable during this time. 

“I built in mental health days,” Atchison said. “I think I did one a month where we just don’t have class. Because everybody needs a break. Since we had so few breaks in the fall and it really wore on people I decided I would just build in some breaks this semester.”

Atchison also offers accommodations that are unique to the online classroom setting.

“I don’t require cameras to be on because you don’t have to allow me into your home if you don’t want to,” Atchison said. “When you signed up to go to college you did not sign up to invite me into your home.”

Atchison encourages students to be understanding with professors as well. 

“If you feel like your professor hasn’t been as accommodating as they could’ve been, try to remember that they have a lot going on outside of this too,” Atchison said. 

Some professors have chosen to go completely online.

“For the lecture courses they’ve been all synchronous online and the goal has been to make them as close as in person class as I possibly can. All of my office hours and meetings with students have also been online,” said Thomas Goyne, Associate Professor of Chemistry.

Transitioning to online courses was a challenge for professors who needed to learn the technology involved.

“For example I’ve had students turning in homework online most of them can do it fairly well but there’s always some students who have difficulties and it ends up taking a lot of my time to help them just to get their homework turned in and because I’m doing that I’m not able to do other things that are really critically important,” Goyne said.  

Visiting Professor of Chemistry Christina Davis explained the additional challenges that hybrid classes bring.

“So when you’re doing some in person and some online it’s almost like double the work because you have to make sure all the notes are getting uploaded, all the lectures are getting uploaded,” Davis said. “Now I know he [Dr. Jeffrey Pruet] and Dr. [Kevin] Jantzi put a phone on a tripod and record for zoom so it’s almost live and it’s also hard because you have to make sure everything is in view of the camera, that you’re checking in questions that are on the computer.” 

Davis has accommodations in place to make classes easier on the students.

“I was really lenient on deadlines especially because it’s hard when the students might be at home and they have maybe younger siblings or maybe older siblings or parents that they’re taking care of. They might not have access to the internet so you have to take into account that they may not be available at the time the class used to be,” Davis said. 

Students have noticed professors making accommodations for online participation. 

“I had a few professors who were comfortable with allowing a bit more Zoom participations,” said senior Alyssa Medina. “So those students who would rather come online or couldn't attend class in person for any reason could just hop on to the Zoom call while we also had class going on for students.”

Medina sees technological accommodations as something that should be used more frequently.

“If we have this great technology and we have the resources to make different accommodations, why wouldn’t we,” Medina said. “I understand that professors might see it as a roadblock or they might not know how to tackle it sometimes, but I think the more practice we do with these resources the better it will be for both the students and the professors.”

Senior Dahlia Yehyawi has had a positive experience with professors allowing accommodations.

“My professors are recording the lectures and giving us the option to take the class online even if the majority of the class is in person. I think all my professors are being pretty consistent and understanding about the situation,” said Yehyawi.

Yehyawi also believes that it is important for professors to allow students these accommodations especially during a pandemic. 

“Yes I do think it’s important. Everyone is trying to navigate this pandemic and people have different boundaries/what they’re comfortable with,” Yehwayi said. “I think it’s important for profs to understand that people might not be comfortable coming to campus especially if they commute.”

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