Perspectives from Postsecondary Collaborative Fellows

Group of Wake Tech students
Students from Wake Technical Community College,
a partner institution

October 4, 2023

The Collaborative has started a fellowship program for students to gain their critical input as the primary users of online learning tools. This input will help the Collaborative ensure our products address the needs of the people and communities most impacted by them. We searched for a group of students who could work regularly with researchers to reflect with the team on research plans, capacity-building activities, and communications strategies. We sought students who were in at least their second semester of college and were interested in STEM, as well as available to work at least 15 hours in a semester.

We found four excellent students to be our fellows: Makayla Reese from Virginia State University, Maha Amjad from Wake Technical Community College, Joy Watson from Virginia State University, and Mariia Shevchenko from Tulsa Community College. These fellows provided input on research strategies, reviewed data collection tools, and co-authored blog posts. Because of these fellows, the Collaborative has improved our strategies and gained a window into students’ experiences with online learning in this blog series.

Makayla’s Blog Post

Over several meetings with faculty from the Collaborative’s nine partnering institutions, we learned that faculty struggle with how to support students who need help completing assignments in their online courses.

In this first blog post, Makayla Reese shares why some students may turn to online or digital sources instead of reaching out to their online instructors. It can be hard for students to connect with instructors, yet these connections can foster students’ self-directed learning skills like help-seeking and a sense of belonging. Read more about Makayla’s perspective on online learning and instruction in her blog post.

To view videos about the Collaborative’s strategies for self-directed learning, check out these links:

Maha’s Blog Post

In her blog post, Maha Amjad talks about how she became aware of resources and strategies that she could use to become a better student. Student success coaches, advisors, and tutoring services are available, but students do not always understand the benefits of accessing them.

Maha encourages instructors to connect their students with formal resources but also to help connect them to each other to benefit from the opportunities for collaborative learning and to build a sense of community that will help them stay motivated to learn. Read more about Maha’s thoughts on interactive learning in her post.

What’s next?

This fall we will have our second cohort of fellows, a group of new and returning fellows. This semester, the fellows will contribute to dissemination products, inform the design and development of our upcoming instructional model and toolkit, and help us make meaning from aggregated research data. Check back for more updates and blog posts from our fellows.