Amid the coronavirus pandemic, instructors at the University of Georgia had to scramble to create new teaching structures that adhere to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and UGA guidelines. A model of hybrid teaching was introduced to combine face-to-face instruction and online learning. With the first full semester of hybrid learning coming to an end, the new method has been met with heavy criticism from students.
One of the main issues students discussed was a lack of transparency from their professors.
“Nothing has really been clear, everything seems sort of confusing and kind of jumbled,” said Jahnae Nails, a sophomore biology major. “It feels like there hasn't been any concern for the students throughout the whole transition.”
In particular, a challenge students have faced is navigating an inconsistent schedule. Melissa Garcia, a junior journalism major, said due dates and classes are always changing.
“I have one teacher that has us in a group, and [she] changes it every week. Sometimes we go just Tuesday or Thursday, other weeks we go both days; it’s really difficult to manage,” Garcia said.
The hybrid class model has put an added strain on students and built a barrier to prevent them from learning effectively. Jessica Ortega, a sophomore chemistry major, was overwhelmed by the amount of work and lack of interactive lessons this semester.
Ortega has also felt a lack of urgency from her professors when it comes to grading assignments. While the beginning of the semester got off to a good start, Ortega said that by drop/add week she was scrambling to hear back from a professor about her grade in the class, and she still hasn’t heard back.
The lack of personal interaction between professors and students has also been a factor in Garcia’s concerns. The constant wave of online meetings and classes can leave individuals feeling exhausted and make it difficult to focus, a concept that National Geographic calls “Zoom fatigue.”
“On Zoom, you don't really get the one-on-one experience. You can't just raise your hand and the teacher sees you,” Garcia said. “It's really hard to get that interaction with the teachers and the students because it is a big part of the learning process.”
Despite the issues they’ve faced with the hybrid model, some students feel their professors have treated them with more concern than just as their students. Garcia said it’s important for instructors to reach out to check in on their students in relation to their health and performance in the course.
“I think that's really important and makes you feel more involved,” Garcia said. “Interaction is just really important for students right now.”
With the university continuing hybrid instruction next semester, many students hope there is more accommodation during this unprecedented climate.
“I understand that we're all in this together, but if this is going to be the new normal we’ll just have to adjust,” Nails said.