When colleges and universities abruptly shifted to online teaching in March 2020 all focus (appropriately) was on ensuring continuity of education for students. In adapting courses to the new online environment, professors were encouraged to take into account the incredible stress students were experiencing, their new living conditions and, in some cases, lack of access to technology and educational resources. For the Spring 2020 semester, almost all U.S. law schools shifted to some form of pass/fail grading in recognition of the enormous upheaval to students’ educational plans.
Less discussed during the initial months of the coronavirus pandemic was how faculty members experienced and responded to the pandemic in their personal lives and as professional educators. This essay describes the results of an informal, non-representative survey of law faculty conducted in May 2020. The principal findings are that during the initial months of the pandemic, law professors themselves were under considerable stress during the pandemic, that they altered their modes of delivery and interaction with students, and that they wanted students, colleagues, and school administrators to recognize the complex experiences of law faculty teaching during the pandemic.
The initial survey results here could serve as a basis for law school deans and others to develop school-specific surveys that might elicit more specific feedback about the experiences of faculty members at their schools. That feedback would enable law school leaders develop programs that support their faculty and students. It may also be important to track longer-term effects of the pandemic on law faculty careers, as disruptions to legal education caused by the coronavirus may continue for some time.
Bridget J. Crawford and Michelle S. Simon, Law Faculty Experiences Teaching During the Pandemic, 65 St. Louis U. L.J. 455 (2021), https://digitalcommons.pace.edu/lawfaculty/1209/.