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Students experience good contact with lecturers during distance education, but less school fun

15 July 2020

Students of the Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences indicate that they have good interaction with their lecturer during online teaching. Approximately 85 percent of the students think that lecturers are easily accessible for questions and 74 percent also think that lecturers respond to questions at the right time. Almost three-quarters of the students also manage quite finding their way around the educational resources and schedules offered online. This and more findings have become apparent from a study conducted by the HUB Technology of Educational Theory (WOLT) in collaboration with Professor Fleur Prinsen of the Research Centre Urban Talent into the way in which students experience distance education.

"This outcome confirms the perception that we already had, namely that our lecturers quickly and effectively assumed their responsibilities after the discontinuation of education on location and switched almost immediately to distance education," says Ron Bormans, Chairman of the Executive Board. At the same time, the majority of students agreed that complete online education resulted in less study enjoyment and less connection to the school and fellow students than was previously the case. Only one-third of the students experienced no change as a result of distance education."

The research was prompted by the fact that perhaps not all students were connected to the online education which was by now offered entirely online by their study programme. Prinsen: "On the one hand, this is understandable given the speed with which the switch to distance education took place, as this change demanded a great deal of students' adaptability. On the other hand, we do think it is important that we are also able to reach all students with distance education."

Study enjoyment

Nevertheless, it appears that more than half (54%) of the students find it difficult to organise their school work online. They have difficulty preparing and following lessons online and completing assignments. However, a small majority of the students indicate that they are in control of their studies, even when it is online (60%), and a small majority have every confidence in completing their courses successfully (58%).

Ron Bormans: "We can be proud of the fact that we have been able to offer adequate distance education in a short period of time, thus ensuring the continuity of our education. However, we must also recognise that complete online education has an effect on the enjoyment of study and the connection to the lessons offered. It is in keeping with the national figures in higher education that we are able to reach two-thirds of our students well, but that some of our students also experience difficulty with distance education. For that reason it is so important that from September we will have more flexibility to offer education in our buildings. This will allow more contact with the lecturer in one-on-one conversations and with fellow students during educational activities that we will offer in small groups on location. "

Improving distance education

Over 4,000 students, which is approximately 11 percent of our student population took part in the online survey. As announced when the survey was launched, the results will be used to improve student support for distance education. Part of the education will also be offered online after the summer, as long as government measures are then still in place. Lecturers, Study Career Coaches and counsellors will use all the results to see how we can make improvements. This autumn, a follow-up study will be conducted to check what effect the combination of on location and distance education has on the student experience.

Bormans: "This is also important for the future, because we need to consider which elements of online education have been positively experienced by students and lecturers and what we want to retain in the future, so that we can work towards more blended education in which both online and on location education effectively support and complement each other. It is good to have this discussion, not only throughout the whole school, but also within the study programme teams."

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