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Climate advisory - Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success

 Sept. 28, 2020

by Aashir Nasim, Ph.D.
Vice President, Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success
Director and Professor, Institute for Inclusion, Inquiry and Innovation

Online / Remote Instruction

The Sept. 28, 2020 Climate Advisory (#CA-2020-06) is based on Climatext data collected on Sept. 23, 2020 from a representative sample of VCU students. VCU students responded to the prompt "Welcome to VCU Universe! This fall, most students are enrolled in at least one online / remote instruction course. Overall, how do you feel about your online course(s) this fall semester?" A total of 193 students, or 25.5% of the total sampling population, responded within 72-hours. Of note, and different from previous survey administrations, no participation incentives were offered to students. Student sentiment scores range from -1.00 (negative) to +1.00 (positive). VCU senior administrators, deans and chairs are asked to consider these findings in their decisioning processes about remote instruction and their plans for campus recovery.

  • Overall, VCU students reported mixed to somewhat positive sentiment (+0.146) about online / remote instruction during the first few weeks of Fall 2020. First-year students, first-generation students, and Pell-eligible students were less likely than their coevals to report as positive experiences with online and remote instruction. However, there is evidence to suggest that VCU’s built environment (i.e., living on-campus) may provide additional supports for its most vulnerable students, in particular first-generation students.
    • Student classification. VCU freshmen and sophomore students (-0.008 and -0.096, respectively) reported less favorable perceptions about online and remote instruction than juniors (+0.095) and seniors (+0.145).
    • Race / Ethnicity. Student perceptions about online / remote instruction appeared relatively consistent and favorable across racial / ethnic groups for Black / African Americans (+0.095), Whites (+0.123) whites, Asians (+0.168) and all other racial / ethnic groups (+0.308). Note - Banner data for Hispanic has shown to be inconsistent and unreliable (in-progress).
    • Gender. VCU (self-identified) women (+0.136) and (self-identified) men (+0.183) seemed to share similarly favorable perceptions about online / remote instruction. Note - Banner data for gender identity is in-progress.
    • Residence halls. There were no discernible differences in students’ perceptions about online / remote instruction based on their residential status (+0.121, on-campus residents; +0.151 off-campus students).
    • First-generation. VCU’s first-generation students (+0.046) reported less favorable impressions about online / remote instruction relative to their counterparts (+0.170). However, first-generation students who reported living on-campus during Fall 2020 reported much more favorable experiences with online / remote instruction (+0.199).
    • Pell-eligible. VCU’s limited-wealth students (+0.076) were less favorable in their impressions about online / remote instruction as were their student counterparts (+0.174). Importantly, Pell-eligible students who resided on-campus reported slightly more favorable sentiment than those living off-campus (+0.097).

About Climatext. VCU’s Office of Institutional Equity, Effectiveness and Success (IES) administers Climatext as part of the university’s proactive monitoring and response plan to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Climatext assesses student sentiment resulting from their information exposure and experiences related to COVID-19. Sentiment scores range from negative-to neutral (-1.00 to 0.00) and from neutral-to-positive (0.00 to +1.00). Climatext produces a real-time data summary for the general student population as well as student subpopulations. Data are collected and coded using proprietary software conceptualized and developed by Sam Yerkes, Jim Yucha, and Aashir Nasim. Results are used to inform the university’s strategic communications efforts and support services that address student needs.