Learning from COVID-19: Research education in troubling times

Michael Coe, David Jones, Anna Kiley, Carolyn Hester, Tony Ward

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The United Nations has identified the COVID-19 pandemic as the largest global disruption of education in history. Collaborative and hands-on learning activities in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics were particularly challenging to maintain during this period. Future large-scale disruptions of schools are considered likely, leading to questions about how educators can be better prepared. Since 2019, the REACH program has worked with schools in Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii to educate students about air quality and health. The program also provides a framework and support for teachers to incorporate rudimentary student-led scientific field research in middle and high school science courses. Through student and teacher surveys, we inquired about how the pandemic affected program experiences during the 2020/2021 and 2021/2022 school years. Responses from 416 students and 31 teachers showed both difficulties and adaptive capacity in implementing the REACH program during COVID-19-related restrictions. It is encouraging to appreciate the resilience of students and teachers as they adapted to emergency remote teaching and learning strategies. However, the extent and the specific kinds of difficulties they encountered may inform efforts to help schools and teachers become better prepared for potential future events that may disrupt in-classroom learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-277
Number of pages13
JournalSchool Science and Mathematics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 2023


  • cooperative learning
  • ecology/environment
  • inquiry/discovery
  • learning processes
  • projects/applications
  • science/science education
  • teachers and teaching


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