What does a typical school day look like for you, and how has it changed since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic?
A typical school day for me consists of waking up around 30-45 minutes before my first class, washing my face, brushing my teeth, etc., eating breakfast, then rushing off to class (since it is in person). After my first class, I usually do my workout, then walk over to my second in-person class. After I finish my second class, I usually head home to make a snack, shower, do my homework, and proceed with the rest of my day.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have much fewer in-person classes, the majority of my exams and quizzes are taken online, the number of students in each class is significantly smaller, I have to wear a mask, or I will not be allowed in class, access to tutoring is more difficult, and making connections with teachers, classmates, tutors, and UTA’s/TA’s is much more challenging.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when your General Chemistry course switched to an online model and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge that I faced was being unable to ask for help during the lectures like we did in person. After the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, my professor decided to just pre-record all of our lectures after the struggle of doing it over Zoom. As a result, we had the responsibility of watching the lectures and taking notes on our own time which can be a benefit and a drawback. I overcame this struggle by emailing my professor, TA’s, or classmates when I had questions and by making an extra effort to learn the material and to study.
How important is it that you form a relationship with your instructors throughout the semester, and did you experience any challenges in doing so when your classes moved online?
Forming a relationship with my instructors at the beginning of the semester is extremely important to me because then they will know my name and be familiar with me which has an abundance of benefits. But when classes moved online, it was so much harder to form a relationship with my instructors because the majority of our communication was over email which is very different than being face to face.
How did ALEKS help you stay engaged in the course and engaged with your instructor?
ALEKS really helped me stay engaged in Chemistry because it assessed my strengths and weaknesses really early in the semester, so it forced me to work on my weak points before my first exam. ALEKS was also extremely helpful to me because it refreshed my memory of all the things I had forgotten, and we had access to ALEKS for the entire semester. Furthermore, since my professor could see my ALEKS results as I completed it, they already knew what I was struggling with, so they could provide me with help that was accustomed to what I needed to work on.
What advice, or tips, would you give to students enrolled in online courses who may be struggling to form a personal connection with their instructor?
My advice to them would be to schedule a meeting with their instructor if possible, to definitely attend their office hours, and to email them if they have any questions that cannot be answered from the syllabus (many professors get really frustrated and probably won’t respond if you ask a question that is clearly already stated in the syllabus). I also highly recommend being as kind as possible in their emails. Though it sounds really obvious, it is a very underrated and easily forgotten thing that goes a long way; our instructors have to isolate and are people too, so they appreciate kindness from their students.
Overall, what were your impressions of ALEKS? How did ALEKS help you master concepts in your General Chemistry course?
My initial impression of ALEKS was that it would be a general outline of chemistry concepts that I would need to know for the class, but it turned out reviewing many different subjects (not only chemistry) that I had forgotten years ago. ALEKS helped me master many concepts in my General Chemistry course by forcing me to assess my weaknesses, diving deeper into every concept, and by providing instant help or assistance any time I needed it!