Investigating the Transition to Remote Teaching During COVID-19


To assess the perceived role and ability of centers for teaching and learning (CTLs) in supporting faculty in a time of crisis, we asked the following research questions: (1) how did CTL staff view their involvement in the process of responding to the coronavirus pandemic and shifting to virtual instruction; and (2) how did CTL staff perceive their capacity to help instructors transition to remote instruction. In pursuit of these questions, we conducted a content analysis of open-ended survey responses from 143 unique CTL staff participants. Our findings indicate that participants in CTLs who were highly involved in the pandemic response experienced active engagement (e.g., being at the table with decision-makers), frequent communication (e.g., regularly attending transition task force meetings), and recognition (e.g., feeling as though their expertise and input was valued and seen). CTL staff that did not feel involved in the process tended to frame their experiences as responding to top-down demands (e.g., fulfilling task-oriented roles rather than comprehensive engagement with decision-makers), navigating poor communication (e.g., receiving important information late in the process through email), and feeling undervalued (e.g., feeling taken for granted).  CTL staff that felt prepared to respond to virtual instruction discussed having extensive expertise and/or strategies outlined for success, previouslyprepared and/or robust programming for faculty support in place, and collaborations with other departments or centers on and off campus. However, CTL staff that felt less able to address the needs of faculty expressed problems with being understaffed and illequipped (e.g., having inadequate expertise). Across all respondents, CTL staff discussed working additional hours to address greater responsibilities and/or faculty demand. To maximize the CTL’s ability to support faculty, we suggest that institutions bolster opportunities for CTLs to be involved in the decision-making process (even if an advisory role) about policies impacting instruction and communicate frequently and openly with CTL directors. If unable to devote additional  resources for staffing, we recommend that administrators foster collaborative partnerships across departments (e.g., Office of Information Technology)  to leverage cross-institutional expertise. Furthermore, CTLs should work to develop relationships with faculty and institutional partners through continual programming, in order to build expertise, create relationships with faculty, and embed themselves within the larger institutional framework.