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Reports on Surveys of Computer Science Faculty and Academic Units/Chairs: COVID-19 Impact


CRA conducted two surveys about the COVID-19 disruption in summer 2020.

Results of a Summer 2020 Survey of Computer Science Faculty: The Transition to Online Teaching last Spring and Planning for the Fall

In June 2020, CRA conducted a survey of computer science faculty members at doctoral and non-doctoral institutions who made the transition from teaching in person to teaching online as the result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey asked faculty members about their perceptions of the challenges in moving to emergency online instruction, both for themselves and for their students, and about what resources were available (or not) to help with the transition. It also asked about planning for the fall 2020 term.

Summer 2020 Survey of Computer Science Academic Units/Chairs: Impact of COVID-19 So Far and Planning for the Fall
In summer 2020 the COVID-19 situation for computing departments continued to change rapidly. In early July, CRA surveyed the chairs of doctoral and non-doctoral departments. They were asked about the impact of COVID-19 so far on their faculty, department operations, student job searches, and budgets. They were also asked about their expectations and concerns for fall 2020.

Key findings from the surveys were that:

  • Faculty thought the greatest challenges for their students were family obligations, internet issues (insufficient or slow), mental health issues, and time zone differences.
  • Faculty thought their own greatest challenges were that it was hard to implement their preferred teaching style online, and that online instruction took a lot more time.
  • Faculty who moved a course online in the spring said that if they had to teach the same course online again, they were most likely to add more online discussion and interaction, add more pre-recorded material, and adapt materials to increase student independence in learning.
  • Chairs thought that junior faculty were most affected by the disruption, and that their greatest challenges were uncertainty about the arrival of graduate student RAs in the fall, and child care.
  • Some budget reductions are already taking place widely and others are expected.

Key recommendations are:

  • Increase communication
  • Improve efforts to build community to reduce isolation and increase engagement
  • Address need for mentoring and support, especially for junior faculty and for groups traditionally underrepresented in computing
  • Monitor the situation for continued change and long-term impacts

CRA Director of Statistics and Evaluation Betsy Bizot recently presented these results at the ACM Education Advisory Committee Meeting. Click here to view the clip of her presentation.