An Interview with Dr. Baldwin: Covid-19 Impact on College Professors
By Karol Zaldivar, Caroline Alexander, Lorena Rivera, and Connor Sebassto

Start of Pandemic

We first wanted to know Dr. Baldwin’s initial thoughts when she was told by the institution that her university was going to shut down due to the pandemic. She said, “ I definitely thought that at the most, it would be the rest of the semester.” She said she didn’t think it was just going to be a few weeks, like the state was initially saying, but that at that moment she was only thinking that for the rest of the semester, we wouldn’t be back. 

Transition to Online (Institution Resources and Guidance)

We proceeded to ask Dr. Baldwin if she felt that her institution provided her with the essential tools and resources to make an easy transition to online teaching. She said that is a hard question to answer but would give us both sides of it. She said going online required more equipment such as second monitors, headsets,  keyboards, another mouse etc…and the institution provided that quickly when they knew classes were going to remain online. But, she partially thinks no because it was something that had never happened before and they really didn’t know what to do. She said they didn’t quite know what to tell them although IT tried their best to support them they were overwhelmed. She said the institution did a good job providing them with physical resources but not really with managing the crisis. However, she thinks it’s not totally their fault because it was something new and they didn’t really know what was going on. 

Image of teacher preparing to teach a class online
Image by air.org

Advantages of Distance learning

We asked Dr. Baldwin if she finds any advantages to teaching from home. She said one advantage is that the commute is gone. Dr. Balwin also shared with us that she recently had a baby and although she likes being home with her kids, she also likes going to work. She found that one of the courses she teaches works very well online but other than that, being on in a class virtual setting is very difficult. 

Challenges of Teaching from Home

Then we asked Dr. Baldwin about what the biggest challenge is for her in terms of teaching from home. She said it’s very hard to be her own IT person and her student’s IT person because many questions arise from students such as how to access the lecture, how to record a meeting, internet not working and that the questions are never ending. She also said that she also has questions herself that she tries to figure out when it comes to technical difficulties. She also said, “Student engagement is really low, it’s super hard to motivate students to be excited about virtual learning and in a lot of instances our students don’t necessarily have the space to have a private area for virtual learning.” She explained how students ran into this conflict because a lot of people weren’t working so the house was full. She then said “It’s been hard because lots of cameras are off and you’re talking to black boxes and you don’t know who’s actually there and no one is really participating.”

Psychological effects 

Then we wanted to know how Covid-19 affected Dr. Baldwin psychologically and her level of stress during these unprecedented times. She said she tried to block the stress because she was pregnant for the first nine months of the pandemic. She said she needed to stay stress free, and healthy and happy due to her pregnancy. She also said that it was very stressful but she would tell herself,  “I can’t worry about what I can’t control. I just did my part and stayed home. I wore a mask. I just hoped for the best.”

Stress During the Pandemic

After that, we proceeded to ask Dr. Baldwin if she felt there was an increase of stress ever since online teaching started. She said, “Yes, this is my eighth year at Cal State Fullerton and it was more stressful by like 300% then any year in the past.” Dr. Baldwin said the virtual year was an incredibly difficult year and that she just looks forward to getting back to campus. She said the virtual class setting can make her feel like she’s not doing enough, like the lectures aren’t good enough, and students aren’t engaged. She also said that a huge part of teaching is the connection you make with students. Dr. Baldwin said teaching in person really allows you to get to know students, their backgrounds, their stories, chat with them before or after class and now that’s all gone. 

Image by ecampusnews.com

Time Management Between Personal and Professional Duties

We continued by asking Dr. Baldwin what has changed regarding her time management demands between her personal and professional life. Dr. Balwin said, “My particular situation is a little different because I have young kids, one of them a baby and my time is very divided.” She said she’s currently on a reduced course load now for her maternity benefit but that wasn’t the case back in the fall semester. She then said “It’s a lot of night working because during the day its childcare and I wasn’t able to send my son to preschool.” She said she had to take care of him all day and any work she had to do outside of teaching class, a couple days a week, had to be done at night. She said “That is very hard and stressful and you just have to do your best with the time you have.” She also said she imagines it’s the same for the students balancing out work, taking care of family and friends or children and having to work at night. 

Financial Impact

Then we wanted to know if Covid-19 affected Dr. Baldwin financially. She said “I think professors and teachers are at a unique advantage even though we pay the price in terms of having a difficult job.” She said no professors were laid off and none had a decrease in salary in the CSU system. She said professors are lucky because they haven’t had to struggle financially like the students have as well as the community in general. She also said that although it has been difficult she feels very thankful to have her job. 

Workload During Virtual Teaching

We then asked Dr. Baldwin if she felt her job became harder and if she felt she had to do more work ever since teaching online. She said that this spring semester has been a bit easier, but the fall semester was very hard. She also said her job did feel like it became harder. “It’s more work than ever before. It’s trying to adapt your classes to an environment you are not actually familiar with yourself and that your students aren’t familiar with learning in,” she said.

Conclusion

The Covid-19 pandemic has affected everyone in different aspects of their life. Schools were one of the main establishments affected by the pandemic. My group and I really enjoyed interviewing Dr. Baldwin and hearing her personal experience. We are doing this research study because we think it is important to talk about and acknowledge how professors have felt throughout this sudden change in their profession. This interview gave us more insight on the different ways Covid-19 affected faculty. Based on the interview, we realize there is an excess amount of stress present for Dr. Baldwin ever since there was an online transition. Hearing Dr. Baldwin’s personal experience during these unprecedented times will definitely help us as we continue analyzing the impact of Covid-19 on faculty.

Leave a Reply