Understanding Undergraduate Student Experiences And Priorities For Returning To Campus During The Covid-19 Pandemic At The University Of Delaware

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University of Delaware
The COVID-19 pandemic had numerous implications for institutions of higher education regarding the development of campus regulations, the transition to virtual and hybrid working and learning modalities, and the experience of undergraduate college students. In order to understand the impact on students at the University of Delaware, the present study was undertaken: 1) to conduct a review of past literature that examined impacts of the pandemic at universities comparable in size to the University of Delaware, 2) to perform a data analysis of the qualitative responses garnered through the Student Return to Campus Survey administered by the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy (CRESP) in Spring 2020, and 3) to identify common themes of student experiences and priorities during the pandemic years to inform future recommendations for health crisis management at the University of Delaware. The study utilized secondary data analysis from an online survey of 2,941 Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior students from the 2020-2021 academic year completing the Student Return to Campus Survey. The data analysis revealed a set of common outstanding themes, which were categorized into the following: Overall Feelings About the Pandemic at UD; Quality and Accessibility of Education in a Virtual Learning Environment; Quality of Student Life; Mental Health; Thoughts and Attitudes About Vaccination Policies, Masking, Testing, and COVID Guidelines at the University; Return to Campus; Notes and Recommendations to Administration. These major topics branched into further, more specific topics that touch on particular aspects of the main categories that were expressed through the qualitative data. Findings demonstrate that students’ perspectives and experiences were influenced by a number of factors that all should be considered in future instances of crisis management.
COVID-19, Student experience, Crisis management