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Same quantity but different quality?

By Samantha Hilyer

Students are taught in the classroom setting following COVID-19 guidelines. (Source: SVC Flickr)

Students had the possibility for an interesting schedule this semester, with a mix of class formats being offered. Some courses have continued in person with the option of hybrid flexibility, while others integrate both online and in-person elements—and some courses are strictly online.

However, both Allison Smith, junior environmental science major, and Matthew Byrne, sophomore engineering major, agree that face-to-face classes are their preferred format for learning.

“I have one hybrid course and it is definitely not the same as in person,” Byrne said. “I prefer in person [classes] because it is much easier to learn and has less distractions.”

Byrne also reported that his hybrid class can be more difficult to keep up with and there can be confusion with assignments and class times.

Smith, who has three in-person courses, two fully online courses and one course that integrates both in-person and online elements, said that she prefers face-to-face class interactions as opposed to online lectures or activities because the professors are more engaging and she pays more attention to the content of the class.

Smith also noted that some activities are especially difficult to facilitate online.

“A few of my classes have discussion portions and it’s so much easier to do them in person instead of online,” she said.

Theresa Torisky, advising coordinator, academic advisor and professional tutor for Saint Vincent’s Opportunity Program, has seen an influx of issues relating to hybrid and online classes. She said the Opportunity Program has been receiving more Academic Alerts and students requesting assistance this semester. And while Torisky believes that students are receiving the same “amount” of education as they have in previous semesters, she said the quality is not quite as good, comparatively.

“Having classes in person is definitely superior to having to Zoom into classes or take them online, but I know Saint Vincent is doing the very best it can under the circumstances,” Torisky said.

Dr. William Snyder, a professor of English with 43 years of experience teaching at Saint Vincent College, made some adjustments to the way he normally teaches his courses in order to make them more flexible.

“I am definitely delivering the same content,” Snyder said. “The difference is in the way I have divided it and re-cast lectures into modules in which self-instruction can be an option.”

But even though Snyder said a few “curves” were thrown his way, the changes have proven to be a successful learning curve. He also reported that while he has noticed a decrease in in-class attendance, most of the cases are related to COVID-19 accommodations.

“The fact that we have made it to late October is a win. If suddenly we have to go online in the next few weeks, I can finish the semester effectively,” Snyder said.


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