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This is how UiA students experienced the teaching of the corona spring

Students feel they have been well informed during the corona crisis, but they want to return to physical classes on campus. The students also say they have increased their skills and interest in online learning.

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Photo of UiA campus Grimstad

UiA wants to use this situation to learn about how students experience various forms of teaching. In May, more than 2,200 students responded to a survey about the learning they have taken part in after UiA closed its campuses on 12 March.

Associate Professor Inger Marie Dalehefte from the Department of Education at UiA is responsible for the survey.

Førsteamanuensis Inger Marie Dalehefte ved UiAs institutt for pedagogikk

Associate Professor Inger Marie Dalehefte at UiA’s Department of Education.

The students have answered questions about access to information and support, learning arrangements and general conditions this spring as compared to circumstances before Covid-19, and here are some of the main findings:

  • The students most want to return to in-person classes. They would rather have recorded lectures (asynchronous online teaching) in combination with group work than direct streaming of lectures (synchronous online teaching).
  • Many have also expressed the need for more technical support and have been concerned about internet access where they live and whether their own computer equipment would work during the exam.
  • The students consistently express that the conditions for learning have been somewhat worse. They find it more difficult to see the structure and coherence of their course and find it harder to get the attention of lecturers, to be noticed and seen. The opportunities for participation, social and professional interaction especially are small.
  • The students also report that they perceive their motivation, efforts and learning outcomes as somewhat worse than before.
  • The students' digital skills and interest in online teaching methods have increased during this period.

Students miss interaction

“The survey finds that our online education has been effective, but that it does not fully compensate for in-person education. The students miss the academic environment and social contact with fellow students and teachers”, says Dalehefte.

She says the university has been successful in informing about changes and providing online teaching.

“Many university employees have made a fantastic effort over a short period of time, but unsurprisingly, we did not interact with the students to the same extent as before the coronavirus closure”, says Dalehefte. 

She says the survey provides a good indication of how online teaching can be supplemented and improved to meet the students' needs academically and socially this autumn.

“We need to involve our students more, even when we teach online. It will also be easier to interact with our students when we eventually open our campuses and can switch between in-person education and online teaching”, says Dalehefte.

Useful findings

“Much in this survey is as expected, but it is very useful to have it confirmed. We must use this to find a way to combine face-to-face education and a good use of digital tools”, says  Morten Brekke, vice rector for education at UiA.

Morten Brekke er viserektor for utdanning ved UiA.

Morten Brekke is vice rector for education at UiA.

He points out that there are big discrepancies in the answers from the students.

“The discrepancies may be due to the fact that students who already have good digital skills respond more positively than students without these skills,” says Brekke.

But he is glad the students in general had positive learning experiences during this period.

Increased digital skills

Brekke agrees with Dalehefte that it will be important to switch between developing online teaching methods and physical classroom teaching in the time ahead.

“We must increase the interplay between teaching and interaction on campus and on digital channels. One of the most important things that emerged from the survey is that the students have increased their skills and interest in online teaching methods. That is something we have to take into consideration and build on,” says Brekke.

He believes the shock transition to online education this spring has been positive for UiA and other universities, but he is now mainly concerned with getting the students back on campus.

“Digital education in itself is not sufficient. We have learned that from this study. And that is why we make every effort to get the students back to the university and organise teaching on our campuses from the autumn”, says Brekke.