The COVID-19 virus has had negative impacts on humanity and caused large disruptions to educational institutions. STEM students complain of learning challenges. Nevertheless, some STEM students had positive experiences during COVID-19. To be better prepared for future pandemics, it is important to understand STEM students’ positive experiences for effective decision making that improves STEM learning and performance during future pandemics. As part of a larger and national research study investigating decision-making processes in undergraduate STEM students during the COVID-19 pandemic, the purpose of this research study is to examine the positive experiences of STEM students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through open-ended questions, 183 research participants from six institutions provided responses to open-ended questions requiring them to describe their experiences during COVID-19 pandemic. Using MS excel, data from 183 completed surveys was analyzed through coding, categorization, and constant comparative analysis.
Results revealed 12 emergent categories: Advancing Achievements; Online Vantage; Peer Connect; Professor Connect; Maintaining Grades; Support Networks; Others; Cash Relief; Advancing Careers; Soft Skill Development; Job Offers; and Limited Distractions. Positive academic, social, industrial, and financial experiences improved motivation to complete STEM education requirement and drove academic and career advancements.
Insights inform the development and implementation of student, household, institution, and community strategies to improve STEM experiences during future pandemics. This will improve STEM community resiliency and enhance STEM student learning and progression during future pandemics. Future studies will explore correlations between STEM student characteristics and positive experiences.