It takes criminology graduate student Jennifer Patterson nearly an hour to commute home from UTA. She takes night classes that end around 10 p.m., so she doesn’t get home until around 11 p.m., she said.
Patterson works from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and she would stay behind after work until classes started as it’s closer to campus. Once she gets to campus, she has to wait another 30 minutes before class begins, she said.
Those chunks of time could have been spent doing other things, she said.
Patterson is one of the many students who acclimated to online learning but chose to return to campus after more than a year of pandemic-induced virtual classes.
Alyssa Spencer, criminology and criminal justice sophomore and chief of staff for student government, said the student council has done three Maverick Opinion Boards on class modality.
Maverick Opinion Board is an event where members of student government go out on campus to ask the student body for their opinion on certain issues, she said. The goal of the opinion board is to know where students stand on issues facing the university. It’s a tool to stay in touch with the student body and a good opportunity for students’ concerns to be heard, Spencer said.
Student government members collected 743 opinions on class modality; 340 students said they prefer hybrid, 332 students preferred in-person class and 71 students preferred online courses, Spencer said.
Students who want a hybrid modality like the flexibility of it, she said. If there’s an emergency or if they’re sick, they could still attend class from home. The students who want a hybrid mode said they should have the option to attend class either in-person or online, she said.
She said students who preferred in-person classes miss the conversations and connections with their classmates that they didn’t receive from online learning.
Most students who prefer online courses do so because they’ve become accustomed to online courses and find going to class inconvenient, she said.
When classes were still primarily virtual, Patterson would get home from work, decompress then get prepared mentally for class. She would get on Microsoft Teams and listen to lectures while eating and taking notes, she said.
“It just seems like I was still learning while also still being able to enjoy my life without being constrained to the campus,” she said.
Another benefit of online classes is that she could review video lectures at her convenience to better prepare for tests, she said.
Patterson is about to be in her fourth semester of graduate school, so she chose to take in-person classes because she thought face-to-face interactions would help her with the difficult courses. But she regretted it.
“I really didn’t expect it to feel that different,” she said.
Every week, less and less people show up to one of her classes and her professor said there’s people who have enrolled but never attended, she said.
She thinks the low attendance is caused by fear of coronavirus or difficulties reacclimating to the in-person format, she said.
“It doesn’t matter what the university does, not everyone’s gonna be happy,” she said.
Patterson said she wished the university could offer a hybrid option where students could choose to attend in-person or virtually. It’s not fair to professors when they see only one person show up for class, she said.
Unless there’s significant change in on-campus COVID cases the current modality will continue throughout the semester, said Pranesh Aswath, interim provost and vice president of Academic Affairs.
The university has seen that their mitigation efforts and precautionary measures have worked well, Aswath said.
Currently, about 75% of classes are in-person and about 35% are online, which is no different than what the university was doing in fall 2019, he said.
“We are essentially back to normal operations now,” he said.