Differences in Academic Resiliency When the Pandemic Forced Courses Online: Was Prior Online Coursetaking Protective?

Claire Wladis
City University of New York

Alyse C. Hachey
University of Texas at El Paso

Katherine M. Conway
City University of New York


We report results from a dataset consisting of all courses taken by students at the City University of New York [CUNY] in fall 2019 and spring 2020. This time frame covers the semester prior to the wide-spread onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in New York City (i.e., pre-pandemic), and the semester when the coronavirus precipitated a rapid and unprecedented forced shift of all courses within the university system to a fully-online mode of instruction early in the term (i.e., pandemic term). Findings indicate that students at two-year colleges, men, and certain racial/ethnic groups had less resilient course outcomes when comparing their rates of pre-pandemic vs. pandemic course outcomes. However, these differences were observed primarily among those students who had not originally chosen to enrol in any fully online courses that year. In contrast, students who had originally chosen to enrol in fully online courses that year were much more resilient, with differences by institution type, gender, and race/ethnicity by and large not exacerbated by the pandemic.

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