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As the global pandemic forces educational institutions to radically change how they go about the business of teaching, faculty at The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Education are conducting research into how one area school has responded to the crisis and the sudden switch to at-home learning resulting from the COVID crisis.
Titled “A Local Elementary School's Response to COVID-19: A Case Study on Educational Crisis Response”, the study is being conducted by Dr. Holly Hungerford-Kresser, Dr. Carla Amaro-Jimenez and Dr. Kathryn Pole.
Recognizing that COVID-19 will have a profound impact on the U.S. educational system for many years, the research team set out to identify lessons that could be learned on a local level, with the goal of being better prepared for such large-scale events in the future. Online education isn’t a new concept, of course; there is a great deal of research going back decades. Members of the research team at UTA have themselves conducted studies on a variety of pedagogies and online platforms. But with the sudden onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, an element of stress and unpredictability was introduced as the entirety of the classroom experience moved online.
The UTA team is studying how one local elementary school has coped with this change. While the team acknowledges that qualitative research like this doesn’t generate generalizable knowledge, there are nevertheless things that are transferable to the field at large. The goal of the study is to examine some of those immediate lessons from one school’s response to the pandemic.
“We feel it is vital to study this response in real time,” stated the study’s proposal. “Reflections from administration, faculty, staff, parents, and students can help give us a picture of the impact on one campus.”
The team spent the end of the spring semester and the early part of the summer collecting data for the study. They sent a questionnaire to faculty, staff and parents at the school, conducted interviews with parents, teachers and students, and collected data from social media correspondence. Other studies being conducted by Dr. Hungerford-Kresser were put on hold, as they required in-person work on campuses that were shutting down or going entirely online.
“This caused me to pivot and think about what we could study, virtually, that would benefit the educational community, said Dr. Hungerford-Kresser. “We had to think in terms of access and what would be important to the field as we all navigated this ‘new normal’ in education.”
Data for the study has been collected and analysis will begin soon, with drafts of the study’s findings expected early in the fall semester. Dr. Hungerford-Kresser says the team feels that this study is time-sensitive, so they are moving as quickly as qualitative research allows.
Dr. Holly Hungerford-Kresser. Dr. Carla Amaro-Jimenez, Dr. Kathryn Pole