How faculty viewed spring's virtual transition

After the spring semester, the provost's office and the office of institutional research surveyed faculty and instructional staff about their experiences in the transition to virtual course delivery and the impact the shift had on their work.

The survey, developed in consultation with the Faculty Senate, was sent to 2,180 faculty and staff, with 62% (1,352) responding. Here are some highlights from a summary of the survey's findings released last week.

Support for the shift

Eighty two percent of respondents converted at least one course to virtual delivery, and 57% had never taught an online or hybrid course prior to the COVID-19 transition. Most instructors reported relying on colleagues and the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching to assist with the shift to online teaching -- with colleagues being selected almost twice as much as any other resource. Three out of four respondents agreed or strongly agreed they had adequate support in the move online, and two-thirds or more were satisfied with the communications received from colleagues and leaders at the department, college and university level.


Nearly nine out of 10 respondents (88%) were satisfied with the technologies they chose to use in the online shift. Canvas and email were the most common technologies instructors reported using. Half of the courses used asynchronous (not real-time) methods. Student access to reliable internet was the technological challenge cited most often.

Student engagement

Responding instructors said that before the transition, they estimated that in 75% of courses, at least half of students were actively engaged. That percentage dropped to 42% after the transition. Regardless, instructors agreed or strongly agreed that students achieved the core learning outcomes in 76% of courses. Instructors who rated the combination of technologies they used as "very effective" reported higher student engagement post-transition, with a majority engaged in 54% of courses. Lectures had the lowest engagement among course types, and studio courses had the highest.

Instructor impact

Re-envisioning course activities was selected as the top pedagogical challenge for instructors, but 77% said they developed new teaching skills as a result. Respondents who named something they thought they did well during the transition often mentioned frequently checking in with students and staff, adjusting course content or expectations, or learning and using new technology. Mentoring students was the activity cited most as being negatively impacted. Asked to write one word about how they were feeling, respondents most frequently wrote "overwhelm," "stress," "exhausted" and "tired."