Marketing Faculty Perspective on Fall 2020 Semester

Marketing Faculty have had the tough task during the Fall 2020 semester of creating engaging content and ensuring the success of their students. The challenges they face go beyond just presenting quality information in their classes. They also have to consider the best format for connecting with their students and continuing to motivate students to perform well despite many obstacles.

We surveyed a few faculty members to get their perspective on what obstacles they’ve had to overcome, how they’ve adjusted their teaching methods, and how students can succeed in today’s job market.


What are some of the biggest obstacles you have been faced with in teaching this semester? 


Student Interaction:

“The biggest change has been adjusting to an online environment. I teach marketing research and marketing analytics courses. My courses do not have a live component. Teaching technical material without the benefit of in-class interaction is very challenging.”

“It is one thing to know that most of human communication is non-verbal. It is another thing to experience firsthand an audience wearing masks preventing you from seeing smiles, frowns, and more.”

“Feeling concerned about the student experience, with giving asynchronous lectures, there isn’t any immediate feedback.”

“Keeping students motivated. It was always a challenge pre-COVID. However, the pandemic has made it more difficult because the students are getting ‘pandemic fatigue’.”

“Not being able to check in on students regularly. I teach in person, but only 30% of the class shows up (even less now). I’m worried some of the people who aren’t showing up to class are being left behind.”

“When I teach, I like to interact with the students. I learn quite a bit from the students (usually). Zoom and social distancing in the classroom have kept us all safe, but have reduced my chances to spontaneously interact with students.”

Developing New Material:

“Developing new materials such as video. Adjusting assignments, tests, and projects. Dramatically reduced engagement from students. Some never showed up or only as a black box and when called on, never responded.”

“I felt much better prepared this semester because the Spring 2020 semester provided ample opportunity to work through the technical challenges associated with online teaching. The summer was an opportunity to organize content. The students have been fantastic to work with.”

Communication & Meetings:

“I had to offer multiple teaching modes and it became difficult to facilitate group discussions as students were attending the class through different modes.”

“Biggest impact is on PhD teaching. Miss quick meetings – everything is an hour long zoom. Also miss out of random run ins that lead to new ideas and directions.”

“Organizing an event with outside business people.”


What have been some of the biggest adjustments you have had to make this year to ensure your students still receive a high level of instruction? 


Course Structure:

“Updated curriculum to allow for more self-paced assignments so students could integrate into their unpredictable schedule and given space to manage the many disruptions they are experiencing i.e. personal, and family health and economic concerns.”

“I have switched exams to an open book and open note format.”

“I have added more frequent small assessments to help students stay caught up on the content. Reduced the number of group projects, to adjust for the break at end, where group work may be more contentious.”


“I tried to make the class as flexible as possible since all the students had their own challenges of dealing with COVID-19. So, I invested an extra amount of time and effort to respond to students’ requests on an individual basis.”

“Expanded virtual office hours to provide additional coaching time for individuals requiring extra help. Made use of the virtual break-out feature in Zoom to enhance the discussion.”

I have increased the number of touch points with students: announcements, emails, Zoom office hours, and a discussion board organized by topic.”

Virtual Lectures:

“In order to make the best quality videos I can, I invested in lights, a green screen, a microphone, and taught myself Final Cut Pro.” 

“I have given more class time to breakout rooms than I usually do. I try to minimize the amount of time that students listen to prerecorded asynchronous lectures.”

“Special recordings for at-home students, altered assignments for students who can’t present, flexible deadlines, altered participation grade schedule so students do not need to be in class.”

“None. I can deliver the same experience online as in class.”


In what ways has COVID-19 influenced your overall approach to teaching? 



“Perhaps now more than ever, we need to focus on mindfulness/positivity/and creating positive habits in our lives. I can’t tell you how many students have responded positively to a weekly habit assignment I have them do where they have to state, “I will [HABIT], on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/in [PLACE].” I have students eating healthier, exercising more, meditating, journaling, going for walks, and more. While the assignment may not have a direct correlation with marketing, I tell students if you can’t influence yourself what hope do you have of influencing others? Plus, the positive outcomes of this assignment are far and away more positive than anything else I’ve ever assigned to students.”

“Made me understand and appreciate the value of being present for the students.”

I am much more sensitive to student challenges due to poor Internet speeds, student illness, need to take care of siblings or parents etc. Also, the use of student case groups has become a very important part of the course. Case groups help reduce feelings of social isolation.”


“It makes me put myself in the student’s shoes. I think it would be harder to keep track of all the e-mails, announcements and schedules. Going to class would help compartmentalize the classes and content more. I try to be really organized with the content, so things are not confusing. My ICON site is chronological, generally it is more topical by resource.”

“I have given more tests to make sure that students are keeping up with the reading and actually thinking about material as it is presented.”

“Students are now used to remote group work. So, easier to do group cases in online setting.”

“I have made all the teaching materials online, which is probably the biggest change I made in my teaching.”  

General Changes:

“More communication with facilitators and students.”

“It’s actually made me a more organized instructor.”

“It has made me a lot more flexible and understanding.”


Despite the challenges with teaching virtually, what are some positive outcomes you have observed so far this semester? 


Connecting With Students:

“Get to have students from across Iowa in the same class (combined QC and DSM class)”

“I ended very connected with a few students who were very impacted by situation.” 

“As an introvert, I love teaching virtually. I do miss interacting with the students in person, but I have Zoom one-on-ones with the students which has worked out okay.”

“I got to know the students who came to class very, very well.” 

Online Effectiveness:

“Some students like the online format. Lectures are shorter. The amount of help outside class is more extensive than previously.”

“My guest speaker recorded his presentation and made it available to multiple sessions, so he only had to present once. Also, the online exam worked out pretty nicely.” 

“Attendance to Zoom classes is very high.” 

“Learned some new technology, I didn’t get COVID-19. That is about all. Not of fan of this mode of instruction for the large class I teach.” 


What marketing trends have you noticed emerging recently in response to COVID-19? 


Virtual Advantage:

“More acceptable of remote work and meetings. Touchless everything. Software continues to improve dramatically. Video meetings (e.g. Zoom) were clunky at first, but continues to improve. These trends will influence how companies make real estate decisions and will also influence where workers live and design their homes.”

“The change to online has accelerated while some traditional retailers are winning with online ordering and quick pick up/delivery.”

“I will continue to use online aspects of teaching, like online exams and quiz, after the pandemic is over. I think the online aspects of teaching will not go away, if not take over the offline class.” 

Consumer Preferences:

“COVID 19 has accelerated trends in how products and services are purchased and consumed across the spectrum of Health, Food, Entertainment. For me, the biggest surprise has been how resilient companies and people have been. What I look forward to is to see which trends will slow or accelerate post-COVID.” 

“Changes in lifestyle due to COVID are making big changes in consumption. For example, delivery of grocery products and restaurant meals is much more prevalent. There is a lot more online buying in general. Social media and online communication (Zoom) are more important. All this has implications for the marketing distribution system and for how marketers communicate with consumers. Whether these changes will be permanent (after COVID vaccines are widely available) is unclear.”

“Online shopping of all kinds becoming more pervasive. Demand for home goods and electronics are high, plus grocery and package liquor. On the apparel and equipment front, no event wear or professional wear being bought. Athletic apparel, cosmetics, and personal fitness athletic equipment on the rise. General inflation in conveniently delivered and picked up goods.” 


“Companies have been SLOW to change their advertising – specifically, portraying people with masks and practicing social distancing. The marketing message and media has tremendous influence on the public’s behavior. Advertisers haven’t caught on to this – which can impact how people become more accepting of the ‘new norm’.”


What do you think are the most important skills or traits for a new grad to demonstrate in order to succeed in the changing Marketing environment? 


Empathy & Making Connections:

“Students who have better social connections (supportive friends and family) will do better. Also, students who are self-starters and who are better organized will also do better. Still, the COVID environment is challenging for everyone — faculty as well as students.” 

“Empathy for customers as they navigate this changed world”

“Empathy, resiliency, business acumen, qualitative, and quantitative research skills.” 

Commitment to Learning:

“If you are willing to put in the work, a growth mindset, and a commitment to life-long learning, you will succeed!”

“Being motivated to learn and able to organize his/her schedule are more important than ever as instructors will continue to adopt the online aspects of teaching. While efficient, the drawback of online teaching is that it limits the instructor’s ability to check the student’s progress. Students are left in charge of keeping track of assignment dues, studying for the exam, etc. more than before.”

“Flexibility and problem solving skills.”

Online Professionalism:

“Companies are going to continue working virtually, even after COVID is resolved. This will require students to learn self-discipline and self-motivation if they want to succeed in the new corporate environment.”

“Learn how to participate and work effectively online.”

“Online communication and shopping knowledge/skill sets.”

“Able to work in teams online. Able to communicate professionally on Zoom.” 

McKenzie Fuller

Fuller, McKenzie - Graduate Research Assistant

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