Hyflex Classrooms Support and Research

Overview: We worked with instructors teaching Hyflex and multimodal courses to study course design and technology components that promote student success and instructor satisfaction.

Outcomes: We developed a Hyflex instructor guide that will be shared widely on campus with detailed resources and course design recommendations. We supported 8 instructors across multiple courses in CAL, CNS, and Broad, impacting 1200 undergraduates.
Results from this project will also be shared with wider academic communities, with a draft journal article in process and submissions to present at the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Summit and Lilly Conference.


In the wake of the pandemic, many instructors have continued to utilize multimodal course design, for example, offering students options to attend synchronously online or in-person for course sessions (also known as Hyflex instruction). In spring of 2021, EDLI worked with IT, the Hub, and instructors from partner colleges to outfit six classrooms on campus with multimodal capabilities, including a classroom-wide microphone and audio system that allows two-way communication between online and in-person students. In fall of 2021, EDLI identified additional instructors teaching multimodal courses and invited them to participate in our study examining course design features, technology components, and their impacts on student success and instructor satisfaction. This work has taken place with 8 instructors across all EDLI colleges, ultimately impacting 1200 undergraduate students.

Implementation: Support for Instructors

EDLI provided support to instructors and collected data in order to develop guidelines on course design and technology use in multimodal courses. Throughout fall 2021, we met regularly with instructors to provide technical support and connect them to IT when necessary. We also hired an undergraduate learning assistant in Broad to manage technology for an instructor in one of the multimodal classrooms.
Following the semester, our data collection has allowed us to develop a guide for Hyflex instruction at MSU with five recommendations: 1) Intentionally (re)design your course for multimodal delivery; 2) Engage all students; 3) Facilitate student interactions; 4) Learn your classroom and plan technology in advance; and 5) Access classroom management support.

Research: Fostering Instructor Satisfaction and Student Success

We collected data from students and instructors through surveys, course observations, and instructor interviews to examine course features that related to instructor satisfaction and student success. Preliminary findings indicate that the support of a teaching assistant, peer mentors, and technology staff are important for faculty satisfaction. For courses that took place in the dedicated multimodal classrooms designed to foster interactions between online and in-person students, students reported higher connection to other students; connection to other students was also positively correlated with students’ grades and achievement of their learning goals.
This pilot work has been submitted to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning summit and will be submitted to the Lilly Conference on Advancing Teaching & Learning. Our pilot data has also been used in support of a grant submission to the Spencer Foundation for a Large Education Research grant with a budget of $370,000 and is being used to prepare a $300,000 grant proposal for the NSF IUSE program.

“I think that was a key thing [to address Hyflex instructional challenges], having Scott be up to speed on the challenges… That really helped a lot…because I wouldn’t have known who to talk to. I would have just been like, ‘All right, let’s improvise.’”

Quote from a Hyflex instructor interview after working with EDLI
EBH 310, one of the six classrooms on campus outfitted specifically for Hyflex instruction. 

Future plans: We submitted a grant proposal to the Spencer Foundation for $370,000 to continue studying multimodal courses and are preparing a grant submission to the NSF Improving Undergraduate STEM Education program. Receiving a grant would allow us to explore features of course design that promote student success and equity in multimodal classrooms.
This research will also lead to recommendations on how to update administrative definitions of modality for courses and how to develop MSU as a leader in multimodal education.

Publications: Kelly, S., N. Vandepol, C. Cheng, J. Fu, and C.K. Kirby. 2022. Five recommendations for faculty considering multimodal instruction. Enhanced Digital Learning Initiative. https://doi.org/10.17613/g87a-8659

Author/Personnel: by Caitlin Kirby; Jun Fu, Scott Schopieray, Shannon Kelly, Natalie Vandepol, Cui Cheng

Stephen Thomas

Dr. Stephen Thomas is a faculty member and the Associate Director for the Center for Integrative Studies in General Science at Michigan State University and the Digital Curriculum Coordinator for the College of Natural Science. He provides expertise for the EDLI team in pedagogy, curricular reform, and visual thinking.