EDUCAUSE 2020 Student Technology Report: Supporting the Whole Student

EDUCAUSE 2020 Student Technology Report: Supporting the Whole Student


For 17 years, the EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research (ECAR) has gathered data on the experiences and attitudes of undergraduate students with information technology (IT) at their respective institutions, making it one of the largest and longest-running data-collection efforts of its kind. IT units in higher education are the primary audience for this report, but the findings and resources this report offers can be used by multiple organizations and individuals across campuses at every type of institution.

With the elevation of student success as a focus area for the EDUCAUSE community, we have sought to more closely align this research with the values and interests of that area of practice. In particular, an acknowledgment of the needs of the "whole student" has broadened the scope of our inquiry to account for the fact that "learning has as much to do with socioemotional, physical, and financial factors as it does with intellectual skills."1 

In this report, readers will find insights and actionable resources across the following dimensions of the student experience, which include several lines of inquiry new to the study this year

In each of these sections, we share key findings from our analysis of students' responses, concrete next steps your institution can take in response to those findings, and opportunities for connecting with peers who are implementing innovative practices in those areas. We believe the research resources we provide at EDUCAUSE are only as good as they are practicable, and so it is our sincere hope that you are able to make effective use of the content provided.

For the 2020 student study reports, 18,536 undergraduate students from 77 institutions in 6 countries and 31 US states participated in the research. The quantitative findings in this report were developed using 16,162 survey responses from 71 US institutions. This report makes generalized statements about the findings based on the large number of survey respondents. Applying these findings, however, is an institutionally specific undertaking. The priorities, strategic vision, student populations, and culture of an institution will inevitably affect the meaning and use of these findings in a local context.

Before and After

A note on COVID-19: Data collection for this year's study occurred from January 19, 2020, to June 1, 2020, resulting in a final dataset that included student perspectives from both before and during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Because the survey questions were written prior to the pandemic, many of them did not address what quickly became the new technology concerns of students. Responses collected during the pandemic posed an additional challenge for research: not knowing if a student had current or pre-pandemic circumstances in mind when responding. Recognizing the potential for sudden and significant changes in student responses about their technology experiences and needs based on their institutions' responses to the pandemic, our team made the decision to divide the data into pre- and post-pandemic datasets. We found very few meaningful differences in student responses in our comparative analyses of those two datasets. Because they were collected during circumstances other than those under which survey questions were developed, we excluded responses completed after the announcement of the global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 11, 2020.

More 2020 Student Study Resources

Visit the 2020 research hub for additional resources.

EDUCAUSE is a higher education technology association and the largest community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education. Technology, IT roles and responsibilities, and higher education are dynamically changing. Formed in 1998, EDUCAUSE supports those who lead, manage, and use information technology to anticipate and adapt to these changes, advancing strategic IT decision-making at every level within higher education. EDUCAUSE is a global nonprofit organization whose members include US and international higher education institutions, corporations, not-for-profit organizations, and K–12 institutions. With a community of more than 99,000 individuals at member organizations located around the world, EDUCAUSE encourages diversity in perspective, opinion, and representation. For more information, please visit

© 2020 Dana C. Gierdowski, D. Christopher Brooks, and Joseph D. Galanek. The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND 4.0 International License.

Citation for this work
Dana C. Gierdowski, D. Christopher Brooks, and Joseph D. Galanek. EDUCAUSE 2020 Student Technology Report: Supporting the Whole Student. Research report. Louisville, CO: EDUCAUSE Research, October 2020.


  1. Kathe Pelletier, "Student Success: 3 Big Questions," EDUCAUSE Review, October 14, 2019.