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Virtual learning factors into GPA drops

Virtual learning factors into GPA drops

By Gabriela Nino
Bridge contributing writer

Published Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021

Virtual learning became a way of life to let students continue their college degree, but for some at the cost of maintaining their GPA. Information retention was also problematic for some.

Occupancy limit is a crucial social norm implemented in protocol that postponed concerts, family gatherings and face-to-face instruction for many schools, including Texas A&M International University; however, this is an issue faculty and staff tried to resolve as quickly and efficiently as possible.

GPA drops illustration
Alejandro Carbajal | Bridge Illustration

For this reason, TAMIU offered courses to students from the comfort of their homes. TAMIUFlex courses were made available since the beginning of the pandemic to ensure students did not fall behind in classes.

“Having so much coursework can cause grades to drop,” said Yakelyn Guzman, a pre-nursing major who said her GPA suffered due to virtual learning.

Many students, including Guzman, fear that online instruction caused their GPA to decrease. They believe taking classes from the comfort of their home caused them to fall behind on coursework and they indicated it is not due to complacency.

“When I fall behind, it takes a toll on me and makes my grades go down,” Guzman continued. “Professors give us double the amount of work they would give us face-to-face and the deadlines are too close to one another. I have had to read 16 chapters for one class alone, do the homework, take the quiz and they are all due the next lecture day.”

This strenuous amount of work caused Guzman to fear for the GPA she needs to continue studying under the pre-nursing major. Thus, the overload of coursework Guzman battled with left her questioning whether or not her GPA is where it needs to be.

As strenuous as the pre-nursing major can be, Guzman was not the only student to struggle to keep her GPA high. Students from other colleges within TAMIU also struggled.

“Online courses make it harder to grasp the material,” accounting major Jose Rivera said. “I have found myself having to teach myself the material the professor is ‘teaching’ us because his explanations do not translate well now that we are taking our courses online.”

“My GPA dropped tremendously due to the professor’s lack of proper communication,” Rivera said. “I was a 3.5 GPA student.”

For some, that might mean taking a break from school but that option is not always on the table.

“I would prefer to take this [spring] semester off,” Rivera said. “I can’t afford to put my scholarship at risk.”

Rivera ultimately decided to take a break from his education in Spring 2021 since the material he attempted to learn did not translate well due to virtual learning.

“Maybe when things are better, I’ll come back,” Rivera added.

Students are not the only ones noticing that trend. As the director of the First-Year Writing Program, Associate Professional of English Charlene K. Summers works with many new students at the collegiate level. She began teaching at TAMIU in August 2016.

“The students’ engagement has drastically decreased since we moved classes to online or flex,” Summers said.

When taking a class, whether face-to-face, online or flex, Summers said it is essential to engage with the material and the faculty to thoroughly understand the topic. However, many students saw flex courses as a way to remain silent behind mobile devices.

For this reason, Summers thinks the main reason for the GPA drop is not the strenuous amount of work faculty provide, as Guzman indicated, but instead reflects the level of student engagement during lectures.

“Come to class every day and actively participate; do not be a passive observer in your education,” Summers said. “When you do not understand something, speak up. Reach out to your professors.”

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