November 5, 2020
On October 26, 2020, we released a fourth interim brief that provides an update on our ongoing, NSF-funded investigation of how students, staff, and faculty in our college are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and transition to online and hybrid learning.
This report detailed findings based on 71 new stories (faculty = 30, staff = 10, undergraduate students = 30, graduate students = 1) collected over the period from August 18-September 28, 2020.
Participants reported nearly three times as many negative stories as positive stories. The emotional tone of participants’ stories significantly correlated with participants’ perceptions of whether decision-makers are prioritizing economics or people—stories about decision-makers prioritizing economics were more likely to be negative, while stories about decision-makers prioritizing people were more likely to be positive.
Compared to our investigations in the spring, there were more experiences of “struggle” in the college and perceptions that “people in positions of power are treating others with indifference and/or a lack of respect.” There was also concerning evidence of racism toward Asian/Asian Americans in the context of the larger public narrative around the pandemic’s origin in China.
The findings in this report point to two concerning trends. First, the overarching negative sentiment expressed in this dataset, combined with a diversity of views on and experiences of teaching and learning, may point to limitations of USG/UGA’s mandate for hybrid instruction.
Second, the shift toward more experiences of struggle and low praise by those in positions of power, combined with a perception that decision-makers are prioritizing economics over people, may point to a developing breakdown of trust in our community.
Based on these findings, we recommend that the college explore a more flexible approach to decision-making that provides room for students, staff, and faculty to participate in evaluating risks and deciding how to most effectively and productively structure their activities.
To view the interim report, click here: RAPID Report 4 (August 18-September 28)