A new study has found that 79% of discussion sections hosted remotely remain completely silent even when participants are forced to turn on their microphones. The study, conducted in-person by researchers at McCormick in collaboration with Zoom University experts, polled students paying full tuition for online classes as well as exasperated teaching assistants about the quality (or lack thereof) of their remote discussion sections.
“I just, like, feel, like, super awkward when the TA asks a question and, like, no one answers even though we’re, like, not allowed to mute ourselves,” wrote Callie Fornya, a SESP sophomore who just put “Bay Area” as her home state on the survey. “I also, like, worry about, like, the sounds of the waves crashing on the beautiful beach behind me will, like, make everyone jealous!”
“I have made it EXTREMELY clear that students are to remain unmuted with their cameras on during my discussion section,” responded Taqué Zimselph-Seryusley, a sixth-year PhD student and TA for PHIL 397: The Philosophy of Technology. “When I labor to create breakout rooms themed around the readings, they remain completely silent even though I can see their mouths moving. I still don’t understand what those little red symbols next to their names mean,” Zimselph-Seryusley elaborated.
Despite the report’s findings, professors remain baffled as to why students participate less remotely than during in-person classes. Unfortunately, the researchers were unable to find any students willing to speak to the reasons why they don’t speak during discussion sections.