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Erin Moriarty, Loyola’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Shares How Colleges Can Prepare for Learning Loss of Incoming Freshmen

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Erin Moriarty, Loyola’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Shares How Colleges Can Prepare for Learning Loss of Incoming Freshmen

May 12
00:51 2021
Students graduating high school in 2020 may experience an unprecedented learning loss related to the pandemic and school closings. Colleges can do more to support incoming freshmen and prepare them for academic success.

Chicago, Illinois – With school closings and distance learning limiting education for the class of 2020, Erin Moriarty, Loyola University’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, says that learning loss for incoming first-year students is a significant challenge for which colleges must prepare.

Concerns about learning loss during 2020 have fueled debates about schools reopening for in-person learning. Learning loss is not a new concept. Before the pandemic, the effects of learning loss were focused on students in the K-8 grade level. How many student skills would be lost during long summer breaks? How much class time in the fall should teachers dedicate to relearning those skills that students had mastered only a few months ago? Now learning loss has become a concern due to the pandemic as well.

Data on learning loss for high school students—pre- and post-pandemic—is scarce, making it difficult to gauge the impact of educational disruption with any accuracy. However, some school districts report a decrease in engagement and attendance, leading to lower grades.

Learning loss does not affect all students equally. Some have the educational resources at home to make up for classroom deficits, while others do not. Understandably, students without those resources might be left behind.

As the class of 2020 enters their first semester of college, many students may need developmental courses to close educational gaps. But students and parents are often resistant to the idea if those classes are not available for credit.

Taking remedial classes can discourage students and slow their progress. When many students already have difficulty accessing resources, the last thing educators want is to see new college students feeling defeated before they’ve even had the chance to begin.

To help prepare for the learning loss of incoming freshmen, colleges need to evaluate their support systems. As an alternative to remedial courses for students with learning loss, there are several things that educators can do. Students can be placed in standard courses with tutoring. They can also be offered additional classroom time and greater access to instructors during office hours.

Durham Technical Community College President J.B. Buxton states that Durham Tech is already using a similar corequisite model. While there is not yet enough data to properly evaluate the Durham Tech program, current trends show that “learning loss” students who are placed into credit-bearing courses in the program pass at the same rate as other students who did not face these challenges.

There are many ways of supporting a student’s needs that go beyond academics. Developing programs to support a student’s financial needs and mental and physical health, especially in the summer leading to freshman year, can go a long way toward supplementing any losses that are experienced due to the educational deficits of the pandemic.

About Erin Moriarty, Loyola University Chicago

Erin Moriarty, Loyola’s Associate Vice President and Dean of Undergraduate Admissions,  has been working in higher education for over 20 years. She believes every student has a purpose to fill, and as the Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, she is passionate about helping them find that purpose. Outside of work, Erin can be found participating in Pedal the Cause or biking along the shores of Lake Michigan.

Media Contact
Company Name: Loyola University Chicago
Contact Person: Erin Moriarty
Email: Send Email
Phone: (773) 508-3079
Address:1032 W Sheridan Road
City: Chicago
State: Illinois, 60614
Country: United States