Junior Public Relations Major Allie Coates’ home on a sunny afternoon. Coates’ living room is a place to socialize and study with her roommates. Photo Courtesy of Allie Coates
Behind every success, there are countless hours of hard work, sacrifices and adjustments — especially during COVID-19.
After delivering its first fully remote semester, Seaver College saw 371 Seaver students earn the Dean’s List honor for fall 2020. This is an enormous jump compared to the average of 308 students per semester for the last four fall semesters, according to Dean’s List website.
Infographic by Sawa Yamakawa
“I think study habits are very different between [online] and in-person,” Junior Joe Doonan said.
Even with those unexpected obstacles, many Seaver students adapted exceptionally well to the unusual learning modality — almost 12% of the full-time undergraduates earned this prestigious award, compared to less than 10% for the previous four falls.
“I’m proud of our students for coming through and persevering through all these challenges,” Heard said. “Not just not giving up and not just sticking in there, but actually excelling even in this very unfamiliar territory.”
Understanding Faculty Members Provide Support and Encouragements
Doonan said online learning was not as bad as he anticipated because his professors listened to student feedback and made changes during the semester to make classes as enjoyable and engaging as possible.
“Early on, my professor just lectured and I don’t think it was that engaging for us because we just sat there for two hours,” Doonan said. “But eventually, he started teaching us a concept and then [we’d] go on breakout rooms and work on it together on examples.”
Faculty members also adapted to the virtual teaching style by implementing new Zoom-specific strategies, such as making breakout rooms, offering asynchronous options and frequently communicating with students.
As a result, some faculty members saw a boost in student participation.
“One of the things that have actually surprised some faculty members is that in this period of Zoom teaching or of conducting synchronous classes on Zoom, class attendance has actually improved,” Heard said.
Students Utilize Their Time Effectively
Time was another factor that contributed to Dean’s List recipients’ success. With school being online, students had more time on their hands since they could take classes from practically anywhere.
Junior Allie Coates finished the semester with a perfect GPA while pursuing public relations internships and a part-time job at a jewelry store.
In a March 6 student survey of 161 Dean’s List recipients, Coates is one of the 76 students who earned the Dean’s List Honor for the first time at Seaver College.
“Having the flexibility to have access to my [learning] environment anywhere has been really helpful,” Coates said. “When it was in person, I felt like I had to block out time to drive [to school] and then time to walk to my classes and time to eat in between classes.”
For Coates, who had a busy schedule balancing school and work, she said it was helpful that she allocated certain times of the day to focus only on her college classes.
“Having such a rigorous schedule, I just did so much that I had to make sure what I’m studying and what I’m doing,” Coates said. “Just also making days where I was doing no work, I think, is really important too.”
Pepperdine Community Prepares for a Full Campus Reopening
Despite adapting and finding success in online learning, most students still prefer in-person classes, with only 10 out of 161 students surveyed indicated they prefer online learning.
Seaver College puts a strong emphasis on creating a distinctive community on its Malibu campus. Most students who prefer to return to in-person learning indicated they miss the community aspect.
“[I want to form] an actual or stronger bond with professors [but] it’s hard to get to know them and stuff when you’re on Zoom,” Doonan said. “I think that one thing that a lot of Pepperdine students can agree on is that the community at the school is one of the best things about it.”
The Malibu campus partially reopening is serving as a positive sign, as both students and faculty members are preparing for a potential full reopening in the fall.
With a case rate of 5.2 per 100,000 residents, LA County moved into the Red Tier on March 15. Due to the less restrictive COVID-19 protocols, Seaver College can now hold indoor lectures at limited capacity — 25% of the classroom’s capacity or up to 100 people, whichever is less, starting April 6.
Heard acknowledges that, due to the nature of the pandemic, not all students may be able to return on campus, even if the University and LA County lift some of their COVID-19 restrictions. Therefore, Heard is examining several hybrid opportunities to best accommodate all students.
Although the transition to hybrid modality may create additional obstacles, Heard said he is positive students will continue to achieve great things.
Follow the Graphic on Twitter: @PeppGraphic
Email Sawa Yamakawa: firstname.lastname@example.org