Texas A&M researchers hold workshops to address learning loss caused by the pandemic

Updated: Jun. 7, 2021 at 11:13 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Researchers at Texas A&M recently held workshops addressing long-term consequences of learning loss from the pandemic.

More than 60 researchers from a wide variety of disciplines and colleges at Texas A&M participated. Some of them represented campuses outside of College Station and even the country.

Jeffrey Liew, who is a professor of educational psychology and associate dean for research at the College of Education & Human Development, helped lead the workshops. He says they discussed ways to deal with not just the academic learning loss, but social and emotional learning loss as well.

“Some of the things we talked about is leveraging technologies and artificial intelligence to combat some of the academic learning loss,” Liew said. “But we also thought about how researchers and practitioners can design and implement social and emotional learning programs to address some of the more traumatic mental health issues that some students are experiencing during these times.”

Senior Associate Dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service Frank Ashley was also one of the workshops’ leaders. He says he saw firsthand how the lack of physical interaction among his students throughout the pandemic affected their learning.

“The students who just graduated [from the Bush School] only had one semester of courses that were face-to-face,” Ashley said. “From a socialization standpoint, we could see a big difference, even at the graduate level.”

Both Liew and Ashley agree the diversity among participants was a major factor driving the success of the workshops.

”Real world problems are not separated by disciplines or majors,” Liew said. “We really need everyone’s input, perspectives, and expertise to tackle these really complex issues.”

“It’s one thing for a bunch of people who train teachers to get together and try to come up with solutions, but the beautiful thing about this concept is you bring in all these people who look at things differently,” Ashley said. “I really think we produced something wonderful, a project that hopefully is going to be a center someday. I just think bringing all those individuals in with different perspectives just helps develop a richer product.”

One of the solutions that’s being explored as a result of these workshops is establishing an adaptation center to help prevent learning loss before it happens when difficult circumstances arise. Ashley says it would involve actors from all across campus.

“This isn’t research just to do research,” Ashley said. “We’re solving problems. We’re coming up with solutions.”

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