Assessment of the impact of COVID-19 on honors student learning, institutional connections, and intent to return to campus
Keywords:COVID-19, honors education, online learning, connection
The COVID-19 pandemic quickly converted classes to an online format in the middle of the academic semester at South Dakota State University (SDSU), USA. Our objectives were 1) to identify factors affecting student learning and connectivity following this transition and 2) to evaluate differences between honors and non-honors students. Students (n=230) were surveyed with Likert-type, descriptive, and open-ended questions about their experiences following the transition. Clear, frequent communication between students and SDSU was identified as the most appreciated aspect of SDSU’s response. Students who reported struggling academically following the transition were more likely to be facing difficulties with finances and access to or use of online learning technology. Honors students reported fewer technology barriers and financial stressors than non-honors students. Degree completion and social connections were driving the desire to return to face-to-face classes, but this enthusiasm was dampened by COVID-19-related health concerns. Communication, structure, and flexibility were identified as factors affecting student success.