University Students’ Perception of Online Learning Experiences During Covid-19 Pandemic

Conference: The Barcelona Conference on Education (BCE2022)
Title: University Students’ Perception of Online Learning Experiences During Covid-19 Pandemic
Stream: Learning Experiences, Student Learning & Learner Diversity
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Subethra Pather, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Vivienne Lawack, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
Vanessa Brown, University of the Western Cape, South Africa


The first wave of the covid-19 pandemic saw many institutions drastically re-shape their delivery of the academic project. Teaching, learning and assessment moved onto the online platform in a rushed manner and became the main mode of programme delivery and student engagement. In order to get a better understanding of the preparedness and effectiveness of the online engagement of students an institution-wide survey was conducted after the first semester during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic. Students’ learning experience has an influence on their social and academic engagement and academic performance, which could have a direct impact on student retention and success. In this paper we focus on students’ perception of their learning experience in the context of an institutional-wide online pedagogical shift. We examine the successes and challenges encountered in their new learning environment. The quantitative data collected is analysed under three main headings: students’ readiness for online learning, social learning experience and student support provision. The findings indicate that even though the institution provided the necessary resources, support services and training to allow students to have a quality online learning experience, it may need further thought to provide an overall quality student experience. The findings from this study provided the institution with a new lens to revisit the holistic student support provided by the institution. The findings from the data provided the basis for the institution to re-invent their academic policies to include a more holistic approach to learning, teaching and student success. Three new institutional policies that were evidence-based and developed during the covid-19 pandemic experience include: Flexible Learning and Teaching Provision (FLTP) Policy 2021, Assessment Policy 2021, and a Framework on Curriculum Transformation and Renew. These policies places the student at the centre of the university focus while taking place, space and context into account to enhance students’ learning experience and ensure quality student experience, retention and success.

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