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CITL Data Analytics assist in LAS survey on students' online needs during COVID-19

Sep 30, 2020, 08:31 AM by Kendall Job

The University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts & Sciences recently conducted a survey of its students inquiring about their experience with the transition to remote learning and needs to continue succeeding this academic year. 

With assistance from the CITL Data Analytics Team, the survey received results from more than 1,600 students highlighting their concerns for online learning in the Fall 2020 semester, providing potential opportunities for increasing online learning engagement. 

The CITL Data Analytics Team played a significant role in formulating the College of LAS survey and compiling and reporting the data in an easily readable dashboard format. The group typically works with campus administration and colleges on surveys and data reporting. 

“One of the big functions that we do is campus-level surveys, so we assist the Chancellor’s Office and the Provost’s Office with some large surveys that they do of students, usually with their experience on campus,” said Maryalice Wu, Director of Data Analytics. 

For this particular survey, the College of LAS wished to look at the breakdown of student responses by demographics and at their overall campus experience and remotely. Wu also noted, “We were trying to figure out a way that we could merge both the data we collected and also provide the information to students in terms of what [their] responses were.” 

There were several commonalities found among students and the struggles they faced. Some commonalities included motivation and positivity; others included not having an ideal learning environment, distractions at home, and inadequate technology access. 

With the transition to online learning, students were challenged with navigating a learning style many may not have been familiar with. However, when asked about the Fall semester, more than 65 percent indicated they would return to campus and be enrolled in classes. 

“We found that less than 1 percent of people said that they were going to [take a gap year]. So, that shows you how much the students wanted to be here, too. So, then we used this information to figure out how we could support these different groups of students,” said Dawn Owens, Senior Data and Survey Scientist for CITL. It should be noted that new Fall 2020 students were not surveyed.

The CITL Data Analytics team worked in partnership with the College of LAS to provide data on LAS student experience, which they could then utilize to determine the best way to support their students returning for the Fall semester. Departments can use the survey data dashboard to tailor their next moves to their students' particular needs. 

“For our survey, we asked different questions of different people because, once we know what their plans are, then we have different pieces of information we wanted to elicit from them,” mentioned Owens. “So, it wasn’t just one flat survey. We had different kinds of questions depending on what [the student’s] plans were.” 

Illinois students have been provided with several resources from different campus units to help them take on remote learning. LAS has created the Life + Career Design in a Pandemic to address student interest in staying motivated for online learning and continuing their career development during online learning. CITL has put together a list of tips on succeeding in an online learning environment. The new Illinois Remote website also contains a “Keep Learning” section, which encompasses learning, technology, wellness, and other resources for students to utilize throughout their time engaging in remote learning.