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We Want You Back: Uncovering the Effects on In-Person Instructional Operations in Fall 2020

Daniel A. Collier (), Dan Fitzpatrick, Madison Dell, Samuel S. Snideman, Christopher Marsicano (), Robert Kelchen and Kevin E. Wells
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Daniel A. Collier: University of Memphis
Dan Fitzpatrick: University of Michigan
Madison Dell: Stanford University
Samuel S. Snideman: Ball State University
Robert Kelchen: University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Kevin E. Wells: University of Southern Mississippi

Research in Higher Education, 2022, vol. 63, issue 5, No 1, 767 pages

Abstract: Abstract Postsecondary institutions’ responses to COVID-19 are a topic of immediate relevance. Emergent research suggests that partisanship was more strongly linked to institutions offering in-person instruction for Fall 2020 than was COVID-19. Using data from the College Crisis Initiative and a multiple group structural equation modeling approach, we tested the relationships between our outcome of interest (in-person instruction in Fall 2020) and state and county sociopolitical features, state and county COVID-19 rates, and state revenue losses. Our full-sample model suggested that County Political Preferences had the strongest association with in-person instruction, followed by Pandemic Severity and State Sociopolitical Features. Because institutional sectors may be uniquely sensitive to these factors, we tested our models separately on 4-year public, 4-year private, and 2-year public and 2-year private institutions. State Sociopolitical Features were significantly related to in-person instruction for 4-year private and 2-year public institutions but were strongest for 4-year public institutions. For 4-year private and 2-year public institutions, County Political Preferences’ effect sizes were 2–3 times stronger than effects from State Sociopolitical Features. Pandemic Severity was significantly, negatively related to in-person instruction for 4-year private and 2-year public institutions–similar in magnitude to State Sociopolitical Features. Our analysis revealed that COVID-19 played a stronger role in determining in-person instruction in Fall 2020 than initial research using less sophisticated methods suggested—and while State Sociopolitical Features may have played a role in the decision, 4-year private and 2-year public institutions were more sensitive to county-level preferences.

Keywords: COVID-19; In-person instruction; Politics; Dependency; Structural equation modeling (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1007/s11162-021-09665-5

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