COVID Impacts Learning, Teaching, Say Kent Salem Students

By Kent State University Columbiana County
COLUMBIANA COUNTY, Ohio — Majoring in early childhood education, Zaviona Fountain and Jadon Kersey had to fill roles as students and teachers throughout the last few years. That is typical for all who major in education; however, the COVID pandemic added more twists to navigating that journey.

“At the beginning of the semester, I told my students that fall 2020 will look different than any semester we have experienced,” explained Dr. Tsunghui Tu, associate professor and director of the early childhood education technology program. “Even though it seems to be an unpleasant time in our lives, we can use it as a learning opportunity for our personal and professional growth.”

Like most other courses, the early childhood classes moved from face-to-face to remote teaching at Kent State Salem, but the course objectives and expected student outcomes remained the same.

All major courses in the early childhood education technology program include field experience and student teaching requirements where they spend time in actual classroom settings. Because of COVID, these experiences were monitored like never before.

“The students followed the Kent State Flashes Safe Seven, as well as the CDC guidelines and guidelines at their student teaching sites,” Tu explained. “They were informed of the guidelines before student teaching to ensure everyone in our community is safe and healthy.”

Kersey is in her third year of the program and agreed that the pandemic situation required more out of her as a student at Kent State.

Zaviona Fountain on a field trip.

“The traditional college experience has changed for just about all of us,” she said. “I was at Kent State Salem three times a week and now I attend all of my classes online. (But) Kent State has been the biggest support system to me during these uncertain times. Not only do my professors constantly check in with me to make sure I am adjusting, but the staff, in general, at Kent State always keeps in touch to make sure I am staying on track – not just with schooling, but with my mental health, too.

Fountain is set to graduate in December with an associate degree in early childhood education technology from the Kent State Salem Campus. Each semester as a student, she was named to the Dean’s List or President’s List, indicating her drive toward success.

Still, the pandemic presented challenges and demands that changed the way she took on her roles as student and student teacher. She related that, as a student, she missed the face-to-face classes and interacting with her peers and instructors, and that adjusting to remote learning was not easy in the beginning.

“I am a very hands-on, in-person learner. That is how I learn and understand material best,” she said. “I have never procrastinated in my life. I truly enjoy learning, getting my homework done on time and working on assignments early. (But), this semester, I have struggled. I began procrastinating when it comes to reading and I really had a hard time trying to make a schedule that I can follow throughout my daily life.”

Read the full story at Kent State Columbiana County’s website.

Pictured at top: Jadon Kersey in a classroom.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.