Update on research on Education in Covid-19 times

Published on
December 16, 2020

The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced a move to largely online education in many institutions, including Wageningen University & Research (WUR). The 4TU Centre for Engineering Education (4TU.CEE, location WUR), the Education & Student Affairs (ESA) of WUR, and the Education and Learning Sciences (ELS) chair group have joined forces to investigate and evaluate the process and outcomes of this transition at WUR. The aim is to identify how the transition influences course design, teaching and the learning of students.

This page provides an update on the activities and outcomes of the research project in 2020, and gives insight in what is to be expected in 2021.

Project activities this year

We collected data in period 5 and 6 of last academic year (March-May and May-July respectively), which was signified by a crisis situation of ‘online only’ education, and in period 1 of the new academic year (September-November), which was signified by more prepared, blended education. A variety of data sources were used, including: teacher surveys about online education in Covid19 times (N = 521), student surveys about online education in Covid19 times (N = 1251), student course evaluation data (17953 responses on 721 courses), grades and pass rates (the present year in comparison with previous years) and students remarks on online proctored exams in p5 (N=1136),

In addition, interviews and interactive sessions helped to get a more comprehensive understanding of teacher’ and students’ perspectives. Intermediate results were frequently shared to inform and improve education, and to learn from the interpretations of everyone involved.


  • Although teachers experienced stress and a high work pressure, they generally felt they had the support and the skills to teach to their own satisfaction.
  • Students experienced a loss of motivation and physical and mental problems, but they generally felt capable to follow online education successfully.
  • Both teachers and students think the learning performance is worse in online education, but grades and course evaluations remained stable.
  • A cluster analysis revealed four groups (types) of teachers that differed in their attitude towards online education, beliefs about students’ learning performance in online education, experienced stress levels, self-efficacy and professional development.
  • Courses are increasingly being fundamentally revised, and teachers increasinly intend to maintain the changes for next year.
  • Students differed in the their evaluation of new online teaching methods. This indicates that there is no single ‘best method’ for online teaching and that it is important to consider different type of students.

What to be expected in 2021

  •  The analysis and results on teacher types will be reported and placed within the current body of knowledge about teachers’ professional development in innovation and crisis situations in higher education – in an academic publication and various other outlets.
  • The student survey data will be analyzed in more depth to identify significant relationships and overarching patterns that provide insight into different student types. Results will be reported to WUR, 4TU.cee and academia.
  • Finally, to get a comprehensive understanding about the changes in Covid19 times we will analyze how didactic changes in different type of courses are experienced and evaluated by different type of teachers and students.

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