Student success in higher education remains an area of interest, particularly for underrepresented minorities. Studies reveal that while Latino college enrollment has increased, retention rates continue to be an ongoing struggle. Several factors that attribute to such low rates include academic self-concept, family support, cognitive mapping, managing resources, background characteristics, and separation and maintenance of family ties. In the wake of COVID-19, most institutions responded by terminating in-person instruction, mandating to seek off-campus housing, and shifting to a fully remote context. As such, students were unable to utilize campus resources and engage in established educational campus practices. In this research study, the authors aim to understand academic/personal experiences and challenges during the period of remote instruction that would provide value input to the factors that may attribute to 1) the low retention rates in engineering education, 2) racial and gender factors related to STEM degree attainment, and 3) low number of minorities in the STEM workforce and graduate school. This study further stems from the overall research objective of the authors which is to increase retention rates in engineering education, enhance academic preparation, and to increase the number of minorities in STEM fields and graduate school. students enrolled two engineering courses in a public, minority-serving institution in Texas - which resumed to face-to-face modality - were surveyed. Results indicate that the transition to remote instruction was challenging due to mental health factors, lack of motivation, family concerns, difficulty paying attention during lecture, and lack of communication/interaction with faculty members. Students further expressed that campus resources and classroom interaction were missed. These challenges consisted of concentrating on schoolwork, mental health issues, finding an adequate place to study and lack of technology and resources to complete assignments. The same students were hesitant to request certain accommodations to assist in their learning for fear of portraying themselves as struggling with material. Students also experience an overall lack of motivation to continue attending lectures remotely, one that persisted for many upon return to in-person instruction.
Marquez, E., & Garcia, S. (2023, June), Bend and Not Break: Examining Hispanic Engineering Students' Academic Challenges During Covid-19 Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. https://strategy.asee.org/42272
2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition