Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation




Education Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Janice Almasi


Transitioning from high school to higher education is one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. But, for the undergraduate students who were freshmen during the fall of 2020 (in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic), this predictable stress was compounded by additional stressors related to the pandemic. While there were undoubtedly many teaching factors that made learning more difficult during the pandemic, there were also many aspects of teaching that these freshmen found helpful. This exploratory study of secondary data sought to discover which aspects of teaching were most helpful to the COVID Freshmen (the students who transitioned from high school to college in the fall of 2020), a group of students experiencing extreme levels of stress. An examination of student surveys collected during the fall of 2020 indicated that these helpful aspects of teaching could be grouped into six themes: (a) presentation and content delivery, (b) help-seeking and emotional security, (c) comprehension and practice, (d) engagement and social interaction, (e) time-management, organization, and planning, and (f) study habits and memory retention. Furthermore, each of these six themes included two or more teaching aspects that are related to executive functioning, the cognitive processes that guide the behaviors and skills needed for higher order thinking. Undergraduate instructors can use the information about helpful teaching aspects, collected from these highly stressed COVID Freshmen, to inform instructional decisions in their current and future courses.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)