“Messy transitions”: Students’ perspectives on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on higher education

Iryna Sharaievska, Olivia McAnirlin, Matthew H.E.M. Browning, Lincoln R. Larson, Lauren Mullenbach, Alessandro Rigolon, Ashley D’Antonio, Scott Cloutier, Jennifer Thomsen, Elizabeth Covelli Metcalf, Nathan Reigner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The COVID-19 pandemic affected every area of students’ lives, especially their education. Limited research has explored students’ experiences during the pandemic. This study documents how students across seven United States universities viewed the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their educational experiences and how these students reacted to these impacts. We present qualitative data from an online survey conducted between March and May 2020 that resulted in 1267 respondents with relevant data. Conventional content analysis with an inductive approach was used to analyze open-ended responses to the question, “We are interested in the ways that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has changed how you feel and behave. What are the first three ways that come to mind?” Six categories emerged from the data: changes in instruction delivery mode, changes in schedule and everyday life, increased technology use, decreased academic opportunities and resources, negative reaction to the changes in higher education, and positive reactions to changes in higher education. Among our recommendations for practice are personalized approaches to material delivery and evaluation, synchronous classes and opportunities to connect with professors and students, and convenient support services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalHigher Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2022


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • College experience
  • Coronavirus
  • Higher education
  • Qualitative analysis


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