Credit: Jenny Dimitriadi

College of Social Science students want online exams and in-person seminars survey finds

By Janka Deák and Luke Chafer

The survey results for a study looking at students’ responses to online learning during the 2020/21 academic session have been published this month, showing a consensus within the student body what changes should stay.

The College of Social Science (CoSS) conducted a survey of 2700 respondents focusing on student experience during the last academic year, with the aim of assessing attitudes to fully online learning. Respondents answered questions about delivery, accessibility and quality of teaching as well as standard of both teaching and support services over Moodle. The findings were published this month. 

One of the key findings was that whilst there was a strong consensus that lab-based practicals and tutorials/seminars should be on campus, with over 50% of respondents stating that they “must be on campus”, opinion for lectures was split. Students are more open to having lectures online with only 10% of respondents saying they “must be on campus” with the highest proportion opting for “could be online or on-campus”. The report describes these results as “unsurprising”.

Exam provision during the pandemic was another area that dramatically changed but the survey found that the number of students “who wished to return to the pre-COVID-19 status quo of exams taking place in exam halls on campus were in the minority”. There was less consensus when probed on the matter. Students as a group mostly felt that online examinations were less stressful and flexible formats were welcomed, although there were vocal concerns over academic integrity as well as mixed opinions on the intensity levels of online exams. 

As well as assessing student attitudes to teaching and learning the survey also looked at opinions of student services during the pandemic. Notably, however, the question did not ask whether each service was adequate but whether the service was “better than expected”. Generally, “students thought that the quality of teaching and services supporting teaching was better during the Covid-19 interrupted year than they expected.” The two categories that had the greatest perception of improvement according to the students surveyed were teaching materials, which saw 80% of respondents say they were “much better” or “slightly better” than expected, and library resources, which 70% of students say were some degree better than expected. The College assures students that the findings will be passed to management boards tasked with making decisions on these matters ensuring that students have a voice. A follow-up survey is also being done to gain a deeper understanding of the results, with findings expected to be published next year.


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