Zooming into Spring

Tax Students Offer Praise and Tips for Remote Learning

Though COVID-19 and its subsequent lock-down came as a tidal wave to the Seattle area, the Master of Science in Taxation (MST) students and faculty at the Foster School of Business adjusted just as quickly. Within a week of starting the spring quarter some were already feeling at ease with our new normal–remote learning.

Zoom, our remote learning tool of choice, has worked out better than many might have expected. In the words of one MST student, “Zoom has been a game-changer. The ability to share screens, go into break-out rooms, etc. has been great.” Echoing the same sentiment, another student wrote, “It’s been great still being able to see everyone over video on Zoom. It at least allows us to continue that feeling of community.”

When asked about the perks of remote learning one student summed up their experience positively, saying: “So many silver linings, to be honest! It saves me so much time since I’m no longer commuting, prepping food for the day, or getting ready. I’m also able to walk my dog in the middle of the day which is wonderful. My mental health has greatly improved, even though I was concerned it would be affected negatively because of less socialization, but video calls have been amazing! I feel less of a need to decompress at the end of the day (when I’d normally get home) because my days are less stressful without commuting,“

With this much change this quickly, however, there are bound to be areas that students and faculty can improve. MST students have offered the following suggestions:

  • “Students can improve remote learning by planning fun events and doing quick meeting times with classmates to be able to talk people as if they were in school.”
  • “Things to improve remote learning could be setting up a dedicated space to work, continuing to engage during lecture, and maintaining a positive attitude. For instructors: Remember to pause for questions.”
  • “For myself: Still ask the questions that you have. It is slightly more awkward to speak up in a remote-learning format, but super important to do so.”
  • “Have a better understanding of online meeting norms–it can get awkward when no one responds in conversations, and it feels like there’s a barrier to speak up.”
  • “Taking notes is more challenging, especially when we’re working in programs like Excel and have a small screen to fit on both our own Excel sheet and the Zoom screen share. Most professors have been providing their own work within a day after class, which helps a lot so we can just listen along.”
  • “I believe students can improve remote learning by switching it up and doing homework in different parts of the home. I know I get distracted easily and also find it hard to pay attention after sitting for quite a while in the same spot, so getting up and stretching and moving somewhere new has helped me immensely!”

Though this situation is far from ideal, it is heartening to see the students, faculty and staff of the MST program, the Foster School, and University of Washington all working together and adapting so well to this world altering crisis.

For another view on how the Foster School and other business schools adjusted to remote learning, check out this article from Poets&Quants:

Find out more about the University of Washington’s Foster School MS Taxation degree.