From Virtual Learning to Pass/Fail Options: Administrators’ Perspectives of the Effect of COVID-19 on STEM Students’ Choice of Alternative Learning

Student Classification


Faculty Mentor

Dr. Angela White, Biology, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University



Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 4-2021


The focus of this research examines administrators’ perspectives of the effect of COVID-19 on STEM students’ choice of alternative learning. The Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) impacted many Universities around the United States and Globally. University administrators in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are some of the many people in higher education settings who were responsible for assisting both faculty and students with the transition to remote teaching and learning. This qualitative study utilizes a Grounded Theory approach to generate a substantive theory based on administrators’ perceptions of STEM students’ decision-making processes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data was gathered through a series of interviews with 18 STEM administrators from five southeastern universities in the United States. Transcripts from the interviews were coded to identify emerging categories and generate a substantive theory. A consistent narrative across the 18 interviews was a pandemic-induced decision to select a pass/fail alternative. Administrators perceived that students’ decisions to choose alternative grading option were influenced by the following factors: a loss of cognitive and fundamental skills in students, advising, communication and how students adapted to the virtual learning system.

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