Has Online Learning Affected Your Grades?

Since grades are coming out this Friday, it’s the right time to assess where online learning has put us on our progress reports. Teachers and staff have made an enormous effort to make this transition into online learning as seamless as possible, but there are always bound to be repercussions when dealing with something as finicky and unpredictable as technology. 

As was announced, this interim’s grades will only include up through March 12, before we switched to online, subtracting the potentially rocky start of students and teachers. An online survey proved students to be less confident in their work and less motivated without the support and social stimulation of teachers and classmates. The workloads differed per grade and had mixed responses as well. Anna Sheehan ‘21 said: “I feel like there’s a lot more work, or at least I’m spending much more time on it than during physical school.” However, Erika Torok ‘22 said: “[There is a] really light workload so it’s easy to get done. I don’t have motivation to actually put effort into it anymore since I’m at home.” The change of scenery was also a con. Many students expressed their lack of motivation because they didn’t have their usual support system. Nina Chehwan ‘23 said: “The workload isn’t TOO extreme, but I’m feeling so unmotivated. I guess without having my friends around, or direct help from my teachers, I haven’t been as focused or prepared as I need to be. I much rather prefer the in-school setting.” I also think that since some people lead such busy lives and usually only come home to do comfortable things, trying to do work in their comfortable environment is challenging. 

Another difference is student participation. Depending on the student, people have been participating more or less. Associate Head of School for Faculty and Academics Ms White said: “They complete really excellent group work! Some students speak up more in class, and others speak less. Lag time and tech issues mean that it takes longer for a student to speak and for a teacher to respond.” In my personal experience, I tend to participate less because of technical issues and also out of politeness to the rest of my family working from home. In addition, the Zoom interface can only do so much, so the possibilities for activities do not extend far. French teacher Ms Lechner said: “Class moves much slower and therefore forces me to spend the majority of time on grammar, limiting conversation and speaking skills as well as reading and listening activities.” For the subject she teaches, the amount of participation is limited, and topics are retained by activities, so retention is more difficult. Theresa Marcucci ‘23 had an interesting take on it. She said: “I think [online learning] is helping our grade a lot because while we used to be graded on how we did or how well we performed, we are now oftentimes being graded based solely on participation.” Theresa says that participation now has a heavier weight on our grades as of the online era. Overall, class participation has a whole new meaning and method.

Now for the big question: Are our grades affected by this? Students claimed that they were not confident in their grades, but confidence has never been a measure of performance. The truth of the matter is that it simply has not been long enough to tell. After a few weeks, with only a few grades on the record, a student’s report card cannot drastically change. That being said, it has been, and will continue to be challenging. Ms White said: “It will challenge students’ organization and give them an opportunity to improve and to reach out to maintain the same level of academic achievement.” I agree with her. Our more free-flowing online schedule is much different from having an exact structure for where we should be and when we should be there. 

In conclusion, the transition into online learning has been a great process of feedback and solution and will continue into the next interim. In the long run, grades don’t matter as much as staying connected to friends, family, and God. So, in addition to remembering to check your grades this Friday, remember to keep being a part of the community.

— Elyza Tuan ’23