Academic achievement in engineering strong despite pandemic restrictions

Undergraduates in the School of Engineering in the fall 2020 term earned on average more credit hours and a higher grade point average collectively than in the fall 2019 semester.

“There had been some concern that academic achievement would go down due to the pandemic and the many other major stressors of fall 2020. Quite the opposite was true,” said Cynthia Paschal, senior associate dean for undergraduate education. Paschal recently completed statistical analysis of average credit hours earned and average GPA for undergraduates in the School of Engineering for fall terms in 2018, 2019, and 2020.

The conclusions for those fall terms are:

  • The average of credit hours earned in 2020 is statistically significantly higher than in 2019 but not statistically significantly higher than in 2018.
  • The average GPA earned in 2020 is statistically significantly higher than in 2018 and in 2019.

“While there can be many hypotheses as to why this occurred, one thing is certain–our undergraduates are making progress toward fulfillment of their degree requirements in the midst of challenging circumstances,” Paschal said.

Paschal offered some “completely speculative” hypotheses as to why the GPA was higher in fall 2020 than in the two previous fall terms. Without so many extracurricular and social activities, students may have spent more time on their studies, and for the ~15% of students studying from home, it is possible that more parental support, oversight and encouragement boosted achievement.

“Hybrid and online teaching also required different assessments and that may have an impact on the grades received by the students” Paschal said.

“I am grateful for our faculty’s dedication to high quality, effective teaching and their compassion for students during such challenging circumstances,” said Philippe Fauchet, Bruce and Bridgitt Evans Dean of Engineering. “We are proud of what the students and faculty accomplished in the fall semester and look forward to a successful spring 2021 semester.”

Contact: Brenda Ellis, 615 343-6314

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