Student Experiences after the move to fully online instruction: A case study of one large public institution

Publication Date


Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Title

Proceedings - Frontiers in Education Conference, FIE






In Spring 2020 and Fall 2020, the College of Engineering at San José State University conducted a comprehensive analysis of the impact of COVID 19 on student learning, student achievement and faculty issues. The first part of the study was designed to survey all Spring 2020 students and faculty in the San José State University College of Engineering about their experiences after the move to 100% online instruction in March 2020. The survey distributed in Spring 2020 was followed by a second survey in Fall 2020 to see how students and faculty adapted to the new online environment. A high number of international and Asian American students responded to the survey. Approximately 1/3 of all students responding were first-generation students. At the onset of the pandemic, the students reported feeling worse or much worse in a several areas including time management, ability to socialize with fellow students, ability to socialize with friends, and their overall psychological wellbeing. 79% of students reported either a moderate or a great deal of stress related to the shelter in place. This finding is troubling since it indicates the mental well-being of the students. Overall, San José State University College of Engineering students was pessimistic about the next few months, Fall 2020, and their long term plans. In Fall 2020, students reported similar mental health struggles of increased stress and anxiety and decreased motivation. In both surveys, we included questions about the student experience in their classes. Students gave some suggestions on how online instruction could be improved. The top six categories of suggestions were (1) record lectures and post online, (2) use active learning in online classes, (3) utilize better online teaching methods, (4) use Canvas and Zoom more effectively, (5) have better communication with students, and (6) give/use more practice problems. As the San José State University College of Engineering moves to in person instruction in 2021, students felt that a combination of online and face-to-face instruction could provide more face-to-face communication, teacher-student interaction as well as interaction with fellow students, more flexibility, improvement in mental health and well-being, less time in front of the screen, and the ability to perform practical applications.


active learning, COVID-19, student experience


Aerospace Engineering