Comparing Student Performance in Emergency Remote and Face-to-Face Collaborative Learning Courses

Yasmin Azizi1, John Hession2, and Thomas M. Newpher1,3*
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience; 2Department of Computer Science; 3Duke Institute for Brain Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC 27708.

The start of the COVID-19 pandemic forced an unprecedented shift from face-to-face (F2F) instruction to emergency remote teaching (ERT) for over one billion learners worldwide. Studies from K-12 and higher education have begun to address the impact of ERT on student learning and well-being. The lessons learned from ERT will likely shape the response to future public health emergencies and inform the design and implementation of remote courses. As such, it will be important to identify teaching practices in ERT that promoted student engagement and learning. Here, we address whether undergraduate collaborative learning courses were able to support student content knowledge outcomes at similar levels in ERT as compared to F2F classroom environments. Specifically, we tracked student performance in three different team-based undergraduate neuroscience courses. These courses were all taught by the same instructor during the academic years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022. Importantly, we found that student scores on individual and team assessments as well as measures of course satisfaction were similar between ERT and F2F. Taken together, our data suggest that the virtual collaborative learning environment in these courses was not associated with a decrease in student or team performance when compared to a traditional F2F classroom.