ASUS report looks at improving student experience with remote learning

Report highlights student concerns and delivers recommendations across the University

The recommendations focus on reducing stress, confusion, and coursework difficulty.
Journal File Photo

Though the Arts and Science Undergraduate Society (ASUS) recognizes the University has worked to make remote learning successful in Queen’s first virtual semester, the Society’s new report shows students believe there’s room for improvement. 

The Remote Learning Report overviews student concerns identified about remote learning over the last two months, including: workload, assessments, and delivery; decreased student engagement; troubles with academic platforms and technology; student wellness challenges; difficulties with communication; accessibility concerns; and potential threats to student privacy. 

The report was prepared by ASUS Academics Commissioner Alyth Roos and ASUS President David Niddam-Dent.

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"The transition to remote learning has been difficult for both professors and students. While professors have made immense strides to adapt to our new situation, we knew from students and DSCs (Department Student Councils) that it hasn't been working well enough, especially given unchanged tuition,” Niddam-Dent told The Journal. 

“This report was intended to centralize students' concerns and point to specific, implementable, and evidence-based solutions.” 

The report also makes recommendations for addressing the concerns brought forward during the Society’s consultations and research.

For example, students shared that stress and the circumstances of the remote term are adding to coursework difficulties and creating wellness challenges. 

The Society suggests instructors offer increased empathy for students given the difficulties of the current situation and consider increasing the implementation of three-day deadline windows and grace periods. Instructors are also advised to limit announcements and email updates to the workday to give students time to themselves.

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Niddam-Dent said the Society aimed to give decision makers tangible ways to improve the student experience by submitting the report to the University’s Academic Operations Working Group, the Arts & Science’s Faculty Board, and Undergraduate Chairs.

The measures identified in the report can “significantly” improve the student experience because they focus on reducing stress, confusion, and coursework difficulty, according to Niddam-Dent.

“Our goal is to see these recommendations reflected in courses for the rest of this semester, and certainly for the winter as well,” Niddam-Dent wrote. “Reception has been positive and members of the Administration have distributed the documents further throughout the University, which we hope will lead to tangible and direct benefits for students."

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Roos told The Journal the Faculty of Arts and Science has been looking to better understand the experiences of students throughout the remote term and get insight into the student lens.

"From all the feedback we were receiving, it was clear that students had the necessary changes in mind to improve their academic experience, it was just a matter of providing students with a platform and compiling these concerns,” Roos told The Journal

“The aim of the thought exchange was to bridge that disconnect in communication between the Faculty and Arts and Science students. Students want to feel heard and the Faculty is eager to listen. While this year has been challenging, the ongoing collaboration and the passionate academic advocacy from students has shown promising potential for long-term change." 

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