Spring Check In

Written By Tia Bailey, Co-Features/A&E Editor

With a full semester of COVID-19-adjusted learning under our belts, the Point Park community is gearing up for the spring. Students and faculty alike are applying what they learned from the fall to their work process for the upcoming months. 

Kasey Newman, a senior elementary education major, learned from the fall semester that she performs best with hands-on learning. 

“Videos and lecturers are not for me if not paired with discussion or some sort of hands-on component,” Newman said. “As an education student, I did not realize how much field experiences and in-person collaboration with peers really enhanced my educational experiences.” 

Newman said she did have a “better than expected” fall semester, but because of her learning style, she was left feeling less engaged in some classes than in others. 

Besides classes, she is also involved in extracurricular activities; she serves as the SGA (Student Government Association) Treasurer and the Co-President of SWSG (Strong Women Strong Girls). 

“It was not easy, as there are components to student organizations that aren’t able to be transferred to online so easily, so many people experience ‘Zoom fatigue,’” Newman said. “It’s very challenging and something I will continue to work on for spring.” 

Newman’s spring semester will look a little different from the fall, as she is starting student teaching. Her student teaching will be a mix of online and in-person learning, as her students are also partaking in hybrid schooling. Her plans for this semester are to prioritize self-care and start her mornings off with some movement. 

“My experience from the fall I will carry into my student teaching to remind myself how my students might feel, as they are still doing remote learning,” she said. 

Newman advises students to “try to make your environment work for you,” like making sure the setup of your room is how you like it and will help keep you focused. 

Meghan Fitzsimmons, a junior sports, arts and entertainment management (SAEM) major, switched from on-campus learning to completely online from home. 

“The Fall 2020 semester was strange,” Fitzsimmons said. “I was living on campus, but only attended one in-person class. It was hard on me mentally, as I rarely left my dorm room.” 

Due to these issues, as well as a faulty internet connection that left her missing classes and adding more stress, Fitzsimmons decided to make the switch to learning from home. 

“Honestly, the fall semester felt like a waste of money because I was constantly stuck in my room, and I was not attending enough in-person classes to make the cost feel worth it,” she said. 

This semester, she plans on taking measures to make sure she is less distracted during class time, such as putting her phone away. Additionally, she would like to continue taking time for herself in between schoolwork. She advises students to take time to themselves and make sure they’re getting the rest they need. 

“Last semester I was very lucky in that I was able to do my schoolwork, go to work and then relax for the rest of the night,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think that being able to disconnect from my computer screen for a while and enjoy life outside of Zoom classes is important, and I hope to continue doing that this semester.” 

While students have been vocal about their experiences with online learning, they are not the only ones who had to adjust. Jennifer Schaupp, a professor in the School of Communication and Department of Literary Arts and Social Justice, taught remotely in the fall. 

“I learned that students like being in person,” Schaupp said. “I think there’s an assumption that because they rely on their phones and use social media often that remote learning would be a breeze. But, everyone of all ages, craves human contact.” 

A challenge Schaupp noticed was that students would struggle to remember assignments more with remote learning, particularly with freshmen who are still adjusting to being in college. 

“Despite any challenges, they found a way to adapt, especially with group projects, which greatly impressed me,” she said. 

Schaupp also learned some things herself, such as how to deal with the technology aspect, and how to stand when teaching via Microsoft Teams.

“It seems silly, but finding a comfortable but professional stance took some doing and continues to be something I explore,” she said. 

This upcoming semester, Schaupp plans to modify assignments in order to not overwhelm students. She advises students to be patient and connect with students and professors. 

“Ultimately, remote learning and online communication are a part of the present-day and future work and academic environments,” Schaupp said. “So you might as well embrace their potential.”