In Their Words: Student Perspectives on Support, Learning and Faculty Relationships

Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This spring, students at Lumen Learning’s User Testing Centers lead interviews with more than 100 of their peers to better understand the needs of students from historically marginalized communities. In this discussion, they’ll share their insights, their biggest surprises and what institutions can do to better support student success in uncertain times.  

Student panelists include:

  • Rafhilene Sanchez (Rockland CC)
  • Jordan Hernandez (CSU-Fullerton)
  • Pascalyn Omotosho (Baruch College) 

Extended Abstract

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with years of social unrest and economic uncertainty, have impacted nearly every student on today’s campuses. But emerging research shows that those impacts, while perhaps universal, have not been evenly felt. Students from marginalized communities have shouldered greater risk (financial and economic) in recent years and experienced greater learning losses. 

An exacerbating factor may be that many of the online learning tools that campuses have turned to in recent years have been designed to meet the needs of “many” rather than the explicit needs of those struggling the most. And those solutions are often designed for, rather than with the students themselves. 

To upend that approach, a national courseware provider partnered with two 2-year colleges (both minority serving institutions) this spring to launch their first “User Testing Centers.” Through these partnerships, students at each college are trained in human-centered design and spend weeks gathering feedback and testing ideas with their peers. Their goal? To understand the unique experiences and needs of students from historically marginalized communities and to generate ideas for how to support those students’ success through courseware. Through months of interviews and testing cycles, a clear portrait has emerged of the challenges today’s students face and the environments in which they thrive. 

In this panel discussion, the User Testing Center lead will facilitate a conversation with three student members of the user testing team as they share what they’ve learned about student needs and experiences with online learning. They’ll discuss what students talked about most as the key differentiator in their learning experience (hint: it’s all about their instructor), the mindsets that many Black and Latinx students enter the classroom with and what today’s students wished faculty understood most about their lives today. Using stories from their own lives and insights from more than 100 students, they’ll share simple ways that faculty and institutions can better support students in uncertain times. 

Throughout the presentation, participants will be invited to submit and rank questions for the student panel using Slido. The session will close with a series of questions for individuals - and the higher education community, as a whole - to reflect on for the future.