Last week I came across this article by Perry Samson in the Educause Review Students Often Prefer In-Person Classes . . . Until They Don’t and I was surprised to find out that the article was about a professor using the HyFlex approach (the three choice HyFlex approach of asynch, synch, and in person) without the name. Dr. Samson teaches in the Department of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering at the University of Michigan. He, along with many professors in colleges and universities across the world, would say that he prefers to teach his courses in person. He, along with many students, pushed for more in person classes for the Fall 2021 semester. What became evident to him relatively quickly though, is that students did not appear to prefer attending in person. He and his students’ preferences didn’t seem to line up.
In his research study that examined the relationship between participation choice and exam grades, he defined ‘preference’ as how the student attended, and/or participated in the course. The term ‘preference, in many HyFlex studies, describes what a student would say their ‘first choice’ would be, in choosing how they will attend class. While students may name their preference as ‘in person,’ their attendance record may tell a different story. This was certainly true for Dr. Samson’s course. He found relatively early in the term, that only 20% of his students chose to attend in person, 35% attended synchronously, 30% attended asynchronously, and 15% did not attend on any given day. While his expectation going into the study was that students that attended in person would achieve higher exam grades, that did not end up being the case. Grades were relatively evenly distributed across the attendance choice options.
After examining his findings, Dr. Samson concluded that students really want and need flexibility in how they attend class. He also points out that faculty would also benefit from the flexible options that HyFlex courses offer. Both faculty and students have personal responsibilities that can and do impact how they can teach or attend their classes. A well-designed HyFlex course, whether it is called HyFlex or not, can give both faculty and students this type of needed flexibility. Please check out the article for yourself (linked above) and the associated study (linked in the article) for more detailed findings and analysis.