Global perspectives of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on learning science in higher education.

Salehi S, Ballen CJ, Bolander Laksov K, Ismayilova K, Poronnik P, Ross PM, Tzioumis V, Wieman C

PLoS One 18 (12) e0294821 [2023-12-07; online 2023-12-07]

The COVID-19 pandemic required higher education institutions to rapidly transition to Emergency Remote Instruction (ERI) with little preparation. Discussions are now underway globally to learn the lessons of COVID-19 and to use this knowledge to shape the future of learning science in higher education. In this study, we examined the experiences of instructors and students to ERI in three universities across three continents-America, Europe, and Australia. We measured the instructional strategies used by instructors including assessment types, and interaction opportunities during and outside class schedules. We also measured the learning challenges experienced by students including planning, distractions, technology, learning resources, their views on educational quality and what characterized quality interactions during ERI. Our findings suggest that most instructional strategies used by instructors changed little during ERI, although the nature of instructor and student interactions during class relied more heavily on technology. Students reported significant learning challenges which included distractions from their physical and social media environments and access to technology. Both instructors and students reported that interactions with each other and their peers were concerningly low, albeit similar to pre COVID-19 pandemic levels. There were differences in the perceptions of instructors and students on whether instructor-student interactions were better or worse online. Common among all universities, there was a large proportion of students reporting mental health and work-related stress. Lessons to be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic include ensuring more support for instructors to implement effective and equitable pedagogies and an increased recognition of the importance of practicals, and the social, interactive and hands-on aspects of learning science in higher education. We predict that the incorporation of active learning pedagogies and strategies which increase student engagement and foster a sense of belonging will be ongoing global challenges for learning science in a post COVID-19 campus.

Category: Social Science & Humanities

Type: Journal article

PubMed 38060473

DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0294821

Crossref 10.1371/journal.pone.0294821

pmc: PMC10703257
pii: PONE-D-23-11246

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