Post-Covid Transitions in Courses

Since the 2019-2020 school year, many instructors have adapted grading scales and teaching methods to accommodate the global Covid-19 situation. Thus, with a transition back, many teachers have shifted the way in which they evaluate students.

Keith Robinson ’96, Department Chair of Chemistry and Natural Sciences, explained the faculty’s efforts in helping students transition to a normal school year’s rigorous coursework. He highlighted that students should seek help when encountering academic challenges. 

“Some newer teachers started out teaching online or hybrid and then going fully in person was almost like starting over again.  Students had varying experiences with schooling during the first few years of the pandemic and we find ourselves being more thoughtful and careful to make sure we build up a base of skills and knowledge for everyone and not assume that students have learned things in the past,” said Robinson. 

Robinson continued, “This always comes back to the teacher and student relationship. Being able to gauge in the classroom or during conference periods where the difficulties are and being able to adjust the content and course accordingly. Asking for help can be hard, but we encourage students to reach out for help if things are proving difficult. Doing so allows us to help them at that moment, but also structure the class appropriately for them and their peers in the long run as well.”

Nicholas Zufelt, Instructor in Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science, noted a change in his students’ attentiveness due to schedule changes.

Zufelt said, “I’m noticing [students with] droopy tiredness. I think that part of that is related to our new weekly schedule. I think we made a bunch of quick changes to our released schedule after Covid-19. So we’ve had multiple, weekly schedule changes in each year. And I think that there’s some tiredness that results from that with a lot of things going on. I’m hearing a lot from students about extra commitments in this current version of the weekly schedule.”

Sarah Pan ’24 explained how in-person experiences are at the core of Andover. She believed that the lack of habits development and interaction with her environment negatively affected her academic habits this year.  

“Because of Covid-19, I feel like I haven’t been developing time management skills as much. During Covid-19 you just did all of your classes and just hung around at home and did whatever you wanted. I feel like I’m missing some of that work ethic I was more familiar [with] during middle school and times before Covid-19… There are so many moving parts of this year. There are classes, sports, standardized testing, and summer stuff I have to worry about. There’s just a lot of things going on,” said Pan.

Zufelt spoke on the transition to project-based learning and self-assessments in his classes. He also noted that the changes in post-Covid-19 weekly schedules have been a source of stress for students. 

“During Covid-19, in my class, I was doing a lot of projects. Each project was sort of unique to the student and so it was incidentally easy to not have a lot of academic integrity issues during Covid-19. That definitely continued till now after Covid-19 as well… I’m doing a lot more student self reflection and self assessment. I know many members are thinking about student self-reflection and self assessment. We had not this year, but previously, our professional development day for math had someone who was talking about student self assessment and self reflection, so I think that there’s a lot of people that are trending in that direction right now,” said Zufelt. 

Alma Mark ’23 appreciated project-based learning transitioning back to a normal year. She believed that virtual learning diminished the exchange of ideas between students. 

“Project-based work was nonexistent during Covid-19, teachers just didn’t send out projects for us, and if they did, it was usually fragmented. I remember I would do my own work by myself and kind of put it on a doc; there wasn’t a lot of discussions. I think it’s a lot better now, I usually meet with my groups in person, and I actually feel like I understand what’s going on. It wasn’t just the fact that we weren’t in the same place, but also the morale was pretty low, people weren’t interested in collaborating, and on trying to do really stellar work,” said Mark. 

Editor’s Note: Alma Mark is an Associate Video Editor for The Phillipian.