Institutional Research

April 2021 - Covid Effects on Freshmen Success

The Covid epidemic forced multiple changes to instruction, grading and withdrawal policies, and student behavior that might have affected how well students did in their courses during the Fall 2020 (F20) semester. While the switch of most classes from in-person to either synchronous (30% of all enrollments in F20) or asynchronous (66%) online instruction was probably most consequential, other changes such as many students being at a distant location, faculty and staff not being available for in-person meetings, illness, stress caused by the epidemic, loss of jobs, etc., all probably also contributed to making F20 a particularly difficult semester. To compensate for these issues, grading and withdrawal policies were modified to make withdrawals much easier and available through dead week, all WU (unauthorized withdrawals) and F grades were automatically converted to No Credit (NC), and students had the option to convert any grades to NC ­– this was primarily used to convert ~20% of Ds to NC.

As the youngest and least experienced learners are most likely to be harmed by these Covid-related effects, in this month’s By the Numbers report, we look at how well students in different class levels did academically in the F20 semester compared to earlier terms. To do so, we compare the percentage of D, F, WU, NC, and W grades (DFW rate) for the F13 to F20 semesters. These data are derived from the faculty grade data dashboards developed by the Office of Institutional Research (IR)(opens in new window).

CSU, Chico By the Numbers

 Bar Chart of Average and Freshmen DWR Rates Historic and Covid

Read a two-page report (PDF)that further explores the relationship between class level, the COVID-19 pandemic, and related grading policy changes in Fall 2020.

Learn more about Covid Effects on Student Success with IR's 32-page analysis. (PDF)

Further Reading:

COVID-19’s Impact on Current and Future College Students (Third Way / New America, 2021)

Stay Informed with the Latest Enrollment Information (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2021)

Transfer, Mobility, and Progress (National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, 2021)

Impact on Education Equity, Resources and Responses (The Education Trust, 2021)