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Student and Faculty Perceptions of Covid-19’S Impact On Engineering Preparedness
Many institutions have required courses to be delivered in a hybrid or online-delivery mode in response to COVID19. One challenge of the transition to virtual learning is the impact on student learning outcomes for laboratory courses (Bangert, K., et al., 2020). Education programs teaching labs in-person rely on hands-on experiments to prepare students to develop and conduct appropriate experiments, and the transition to virtual instruction requires a change in the delivery of the lab content. The objective of this research is two-fold: (1) assess the impact the transition to virtual lab instruction has had on engineering preparedness of students, and (2) recommend laboratory course delivery strategies for institutions that will continue to require virtual instruction. This is achieved through a retrospective analysis of the academic term(s) conducted amidst the pandemic, a qualitative analysis of self-reported perceptions of engineering preparedness of students, and a qualitative discussion from instructors’ perspective. Analysis is performed on two public engineering programs in the Southeastern United States: one is a research-intensive institution where graduate students deliver lab instruction, and the other is a primarily undergraduate institution where full-time faculty deliver lab instruction. Analysis and recommendations are structured as (1) Universal, that broadly apply to both institutions, (2) Research, that are most applicable to research intensive institutions, and (3) PUI, that are most applicable to primarily undergraduate institutions. The broader impact of the research is to improve the engineering preparedness of students in situations where virtual lab instruction may be required and to empower instructors with specific recommendations toward managing finite resources and planning for virtual lab delivery.