Survey helps colleges and universities address online learning obstacles


News release from Pharos Resources:

This year’s Spring Break unexpectedly marked the end of the school year for most college
students. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, higher education was disrupted and the method of
delivering education was changed in a matter of weeks. Now, some universities and colleges are
left wondering how students are adjusting. According to Matt Boisvert, president and co-founder
of locally-owned Pharos Resources, early survey results indicate that most students are
struggling with this new way of learning..
“At Pharos Resources, we provide a comprehensive approach for our clients to improve student
outcomes through unique software and relationship-focused perspectives, increasing student
engagement and success,” said Boisvert. “Now, our colleges and universities are having to shift
that focus to address critical student life issues.”
To find out how students are really doing, Pharos has offered its clients the opportunity to send
Impact Surveys to their students, at no charge. The survey results are interpreted, and the team
guides the schools on how to best meet students’ individual needs.
The Impact Survey is divided into five sections. They include:

  • Online Class
  • Reflection and Planning
  • Resource Concerns
  • Institutional Services
  • Institutional Support

Questions range from what on-campus activities students miss the most to what basic needs are
no longer being met since leaving campus. These responses are especially relevant since residing
in the college community was a safe place for some students.
According to the 6,0000 surveys already completed, Boisvert and Rachel Phillips-Buck, vice
president for Student Success at Pharos, have discovered that the top issues and concerns are the
same for the majority of students, regardless of the size of the university or college. More than
25 percent of students who have already completed the survey said they had problems accessing
the virtual classroom. While more alarming was the 16 percent who cited food concerns as a
major problem.
“When you don’t eat, you can’t think,” said Phillips-Buck. “That absolutely should be one of the
first things schools should address.”
But how do these institutions of higher education help when the student is no longer on campus
or even in the same state?
Philips-Buck said the institutions they work with must reach out to students to solve the pressing
problems by connecting them to resources in their own hometowns.
“Some students don’t have access to a reliable internet connection at home, while others no
longer have a quiet place available where they can concentrate on class and homework
uninterrupted,” she said “And for those students who rely on a regular paycheck to pay tuition
and bills, the on- or off-campus jobs are now unavailable, leaving them worried about their
The survey is also bringing to light other, more hidden struggles some students face.
“The ‘in-seat’ experience is great equalization for students, putting all students on a level playing
field,” said Boisvert. “Everyone has the same opportunities to sit in a classroom, interact with
instructors and classmates, as well as receive advising and tutoring services. Socio-economic
differences are not present while physically in the classroom. Once the ‘in-seat’ learning was
taken away, so were the equalizers among students.’”

Boisvert and Phillips-Buck have been advising their clients to focus on three key areas during
this unprecedented season. Colleges and universities must:

  • Re-recruit the entire student population
  • Open “a case” on every student, enlisting faculty and staff involvement
  • Assign no more than 30 students to each representative. During one-on-one sessions,
    staff can dig deeper to find out what individual students need to succeed.

    As the rest of the surveys are completed, Pharos Resources will continue helping its clients
    understand and meet the everchanging needs of their college students during this everchanging

About Pharos Resources
Pharos Resources provides a comprehensive approach to improve student outcomes. Our unique
software and approach will strengthen early alert, student care, and retention on college and
university campuses. Through Relational Retention, our relationship-focused perspective, our
clients will identify at-risk students, eliminate campus silos, increase student engagement and
enrich the culture of student success

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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