DISTANCE LEARNING IN TIME OF CRISIS: A CASE STUDY AT THE SCHOOL OF AGRICULTURAL ENGINEERING AND ENVIRONMENT OF UNIVERSITAT POLITÈCNICA DE VALÈNCIA
Universitat Politècnica de València (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 9-10 November, 2020
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:Higher education is adapted to keep up with the changes in information and communication technologies (ICT) for the development and improvement of quality education. In this sense, distance learning is booming, with an increasing number of higher education students enjoying the flexibility remote learning provides. The Escuela Técnica Superior de Ingeniería Agronómica y del Medio Natural (ETSIAMN) of Universitat Politècnica de València (UPV) has been incorporating ICT the Bachelor and Master degrees for more than two decades. Therefore, both, students and lecturers are used to ICT. Nevertheless, the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has put higher education distance learning in the spotlight like never before, having the stakeholder groups of ETSIAMN (e.g. students, lecturers, institution administrators, technical staff) to adapt to the new situation with hardly any preparation time. For that reason, an analysis of the teaching and evaluation methodology developed during this period is needed, in order to detect hot spots and to contribute to the preparation of all the stakeholder groups.
The specific goal of this study is to analyse the teaching period during COVID-19 crisis (Spring semester of 2019-2020) in ETSIAMN, and to contrast the opinion of both students and lecturers on distance teaching and assessment. To this purpose, at the ETSIAMN, 114 lecturers and 276 students, out of a total of 342 and 1812, respectively, have been surveyed (July 2020), belonging both of them to the following Bachelor’s degrees: Agricultural and Biological Engineering; Forest and Environmental Engineering; Food Science and Technology; Biotechnology, and Master's degrees: Agricultural Engineering; Forest Engineering and Enology. Among the lecturers, the variables considered were the Degree/s (Bachelor or Master) and year of Degree where the lecturer has taught, and if they have had the experience of teaching under COVID-crisis conditions.
The student’s variables considered for the study were
(ii) year of Degree,
(iii) retaker or not, and
Regarding the survey, three main blocks have been designed. The first block, corresponding to the teaching methodologies, compares students’ and lecturers’ preferences for synchronous, asynchronous or combined distance teaching. The second block focuses on evaluation, exploring preferences for different assessment modalities (objective test, oral, open book, open response, problem with personalized numerical statements, or project), and for on-line exam formats (time limitation or linearity). Finally, difficulties in distance learning found for both students and lecturers have been also surveyed, in order to look for future solutions.
Lecturers and students agreed on choosing the combined methodology and the test-type exam as the best option, although students showed preference for project-based evaluation. Nevertheless, the students’ dislike for the linearity of the test (no option to go back on the questions) and the lecturers’ preference for limiting the time for the test resulted to be striking. Finally, the lack of motivation was the main barrier that students encountered to achieve effective learning. The final thought dwells upon the ways of promoting motivation of the students.
Our case study will provide the stakeholder groups from ETSIAMN and higher education community with information and tools to successfully develop distance learning.
Keywords: Etsiamn, Survey, Distance Learning, Covid-19.