McConnell, Christine

Committee Member

Huang, Jingzi (Ginny)

Committee Member

Ku, Heng-Yu

Committee Member

Cardona, Vilma (Betty)


College of Education and Behavioral Sciences: School of Teacher Education, Educational Studies


University of Northern Colorado

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Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created



287 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


This educational criticism and action research study was conducted in the spring of 2020 to better understand the impact that faculty-student interaction has on the well-being of faculty and students. Classes moved to remote instruction halfway through the semester, prompting an additional research question on the impact of COVID-19 on faculty-student interaction and well-being. Data were collected at an engineering school from five faculty (4 participants and the researcher) and their students primarily through interviews, focus groups (with 16 student participants), and a student questionnaire (with 73 student respondents). Data analysis was structured with Uhrmacher, McConnell, and Flinders’ (2017) instructional arc, expanded to include student intentions and faculty perceptions. Faculty and students described what interactions are supportive and unsupportive of their well-being and indicated that there are different ways to give and receive care. The findings call for both a language and a system for expressing care needs in higher education, through better valuing of relationships and teaching. In higher education, and particularly in STEM programs, we can mitigate overwhelm by implementing new policies and practices to better support well-being of faculty and students through financial and structural support and via the evolution of curriculum, including analyses of hidden, shadow, and complementary curricula. It is also critical to consider how care work is defined and gendered within an institution, especially in regard to contingent or non-tenured faculty. The flow of care model expresses the ways in which supportive care can either be blocked or allowed to flow throughout the hierarchy of higher education. Future studies should examine interaction among different types of faculty or levels of students and explore the impact of interaction on the well-being of people of color, underrepresented groups, and marginalized populations.

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