Student survey results show little drop off in satisfaction between in-person, virtual learning


Courtesy / GVSU

Trevor Hubert

College students across the country are now approaching a full year of learning under lockdown. Some students took the changes in stride, while others have voiced their displeasure with virtual education. Every student has their own unique method to be effectively educated, but student survey data does not show a major dropoff in student satisfaction. 

According to data obtained by GVSU’s Office of Institutional Analysis, LIFT survey results from fall 2019 and fall 2020 have minimal differences for the university as a whole. Data from winter 2020 is not available, as surveys were not given to students at the end of the semester. 

Typically, the questionnaires are given out to every class at the end of each semester. It gives professors and university departments insight into what they can do to improve quality of life and learning in the classroom. Because the surveys are voluntary, they are highly dependent on student participation. Questions are scored on a scale of zero to five, with five being “excellent” and zero being “very poor”. 

The average overall rating of all classes at Grand Valley in fall 2019 was 3.84, making the average class somewhere between “good” and “very good”. This number had little to no drop-off in the winter of 2020, with the overall average sitting at 3.80. 

“Given the huge disruption in course delivery methods, I think it’s remarkable how little the scores have changed”, OIA Director Philip Batty said via email.

One area where students still seem to be satisfied is the content of the courses they are taking. The “course content” question on the survey produced a score of 3.78 for both semesters, making it the only section of the survey that saw no decrease in average rating between years. 

Batty said that the most drop-off for one section was seen in students’ perception of their professors. The question regarding “instructor’s contribution to the course” dropped from 3.99 to 3.91 between years. Even with this decrease, this question was still the highest scoring out of any of the four included in the survey. There was no question that scored an average under 3.70 for either semester, showing that students at the university are generally satisfied with their education. 

Although there is no true quantifiable way to show the strain of students moving from in-person to online learning, the survey results could be a potential silver lining for Grand Valley as a whole, as the quality of education has shown minimal decline across the board. As face-to-face learning steadily increases over the next year, trends show that the university should expect student satisfaction to return to pre-pandemic levels. There is a possibility that these numbers increase as well, as students become more and more eager to leave their dorms and return to the classroom for good.