Staying Productive in the Pandemic

Gilpatrick Hornsby is Director of Research for NENA Federation

Let me first start by saying that the Pandemic happened to you, too. I have led several sessions on my campus and had multiple conversations with colleagues and I always like to start there. In our student centric profession, many times the needs of students are at the forefront of the discussion. While I find value in trying our best to meet the needs of the students and being flexible in how we deliver a quality education to them, it is also important to realize that you also have needs that need to be met and that you need others to be flexible with you. Now that I have gotten that off of my chest, I think it is important to realize that one of the least flexible portions of the three-legged stool for most is scholarship. While I have heard of some universities trying to relax scholarly expectations, it is not something that most faculty, especially pre-tenured faculty, can allow to become lax for an extended period. My goal in this article is to provide three seemingly underused methods of producing scholarship in hospitality that could be “pandemic friendly.” In the event that your main form of scholarly inquiry is stalled due to access to labs or people, these methods might help to keep projects active in the pipeline.

Case Study Research

This past year was the first time I took part in the ICHRIE Johnson and Wales case study competition. I found that it was a great opportunity for me to explore the topic of teaching diversity inside of the classroom. It allowed me to draw on my personal experiences and previous literature to produce a case study that went through the peer review process. The Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Cases might be a great opportunity for you to publish a case that you have been thinking about. 

Case study research also does not have to be conducted as a pedagogical tool. “The case study is a research strategy which focuses on understanding the dynamics present within single settings” (Eisenhardt, 1989, p. 534). A few colleagues and I are currently working to form a research team that looks at employee deviance during the pandemic. We have enlisted an industry partner who will provide us with multiple cases from their experience in order to help us understand the phenomenon. 


An autoethnography is another great tool if you are unable to interact with other human subjects. This method can be seen as a self-narrative that places you within a social context (Reed-Danahay, 1997). In other words it is a process that allows the researcher to analyze their reflections about a phenomenon or event. I am currently working on a project where I explore the process of transitioning a face-to-face culinary lab into online instruction. Specifically, I want to explore the process and validity of assessing students’ mastery of culinary skills. 

Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

The final method that I would consider “pandemic friendly” is that of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SOTL). During my time as the Director of Research here in NENA CHRIE, this is a topic that I have written on several times as well as something that I practice as a part of my normal research stream. However, if this is something that you have not tried before this point, this may be a good opportunity to do so. SOTL can be defined as “a mechanism for academics to understand more about how students learn in their courses and as resources for reflection on teaching” (Boud & Brew, 2013, p. 219). 

Another project I am exploring is to examine a portion of my teaching before COVID-19. At the end of the spring of 2019, I changed the major project in my senior seminar course because students were not responding in the way that I felt they should. According to student evaluations, they did not see the value in the project. After the change, I felt like I got better results and the students valued the new assignment. However, I never took an analytical approach to evaluating the change. It is quite possible that only those students that semester found value in the assignment and future cohorts will not. So I am now systematically going to examine the impact of the assignment by looking at multiple points of data.

Now. I realize that each of the examples I have given have been educationally-based and qualitative. As a mixed-methods researcher that explores hospitality education, it makes sense that my examples would come from what I know. The goal of this article was to provide you with pandemic friendly research methods to help you stay productive in the current climate, but it was not to provide you with ALL of the possible opportunities. If these three methods are not for you, I hope that I have at least helped you think about exploring other ways to conduct scholarship that keeps you productive in the pandemic!

Boud, D., & Brew, A. (2013). Reconceptualising academic work as professional practice: Implications for academic development.
International Journal for Academic Development, 18(3), 208-221.
Eisenhardt, K. M. (1989). Building theories from case study research. Academy of management review, 14(4), 532-550.
Reed-Danahay, D. (1997). Auto/ethnography. New York: Berg.

image widget
image widget
image widget
image widget

image widget