The Return of In-person Learning

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Image from http://ghostlywisconsin.blogspot.com/2012/08/ghosts-of-marquette-university.html

Approximately 18 months ago, COVID-19 disrupted the lives of nearly 20 million US college students.

The Association of American College and Universities partnered with Columbia University’s Global Psychiatric Epidemiology Group to support the National College Student COVID-19 Impact Study.

Data collected between September 2020 and January 2021 from over 900 students at over 70 colleges and universities revealed that students face “increased levels of anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and behavior, substance use, and financial stress.”

With COVID-19 continuing to effects lives, Marquette’s campus community members reflect on the advantages and disadvantages of returning to campus. 

Ginney Haas Pauly, an adjunct professor of communication ethics at Marquette University and registered nurse, said “with COVID-19 safety protocols being followed by the MU community [and understanding the changing nature of the pandemic], I am glad to be teaching in person this semester,” Haas Pauly said.

Lizzy Ibitoye, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said her experience with being back in person. 

“I am excited to be back in person. I’m excited to meet new people and have fun here on campus. I also feel that in-person classes are more conducive to my learning style and that will help me to do better academically” Ibitoye said.

Ibitoye said that during online learning she recognized an increase in procrastination and a lack of motivation. She is hoping that she will break these bad habits by returning to classes in person.

Amelia Zurcher, professor of English and director of the Honors Program at Marquette University, said she is “ VERY happy to see students in person. Human interaction is richer in person, and human interaction is at the center of learning and teaching. So far all the students and colleagues I’ve been interacting with have been great about masks indoors.”

However, with COVID-19 and the Delta variant continuing to affect lives, Hass Pauly, Ibitoye, and Zurcher share possible downsides to returning to campus.

“There still is a pandemic, and people are still getting sick” Ibitoye said.

Haas Pauly is currently comfortable with teaching in person but still said that there are some disadvantages to in-person learning and teaching.

“One downside to in-person learning this semester is the potential exposure and transmission of the virus and the anxiety that this possibility may cause in students, faculty, and staff,” Haas Pauly said.

Zurcher, on the other hand, sees the advantages of virtual interaction during the pandemic.

“Virtual meetings make it so much easier to bring community partners and guests from far away into the classroom, and when we’re able we should keep using virtual meetings for that purpose.  We hope we can use the lessons we learned about that last year as we return to being in person,” Zurcher said.

Zurcher said that the virtual format is more inclusive, but in-person works better for larger class sizes.

Marquette University requires all students, faculty, staff, and visitors to continue to wear their masks, and urges them to take all precautions to limit the exposure and spread of COVID-19.

This story was written by Hannah Hernandez. She can be reached at hannah.hernandez@marquette.edu.