March 5, 2021
This seminar was held on February 18, 2021 at 3:30PM, ET. In it, we described two studies conducted by researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) that examined how faculty, staff, and students experienced the COVID-19 crisis. Both studies used a novel, mixed methods research approach called SenseMaker. SenseMaker is an action-oriented and participatory approach that combines rich, first-hand narratives with the statistical power of quantitative data. It is designed to inquire into and change complex social systems.
The first study, led by Dr. Nicola Sochacka in collaboration with Drs. John Morelock, Racheida Lewis, and Joachim Walther, examined the impact of the pandemic on the College of Engineering at UGA. Data were collected at four different times from April to September 2020 (n = 149). Four interim briefs were written and shared with the entire college community. We will discuss trends we identified in the data analysis, real-time recommendations and changes we made to improve participants’ experiences, and overarching lessons-learned about how to better prepare for and navigate such disruptions to higher education.
The second study, led by Dr. Racheida Lewis in collaboration with Nicola Sochacka and Dr. Trina Fletcher at Florida International University, investigated how underrepresented students across the United States experienced the sudden transition to online learning during the spring of 2020. A total of 500 stories were collected from June to July 2020. Data analysis for this study is ongoing. We shared some preliminary findings and invited the audience to participate in “making sense” of these data. We concluded with methodological insights we have gained from using SenseMaker at these two very different scales.