Students more accustomed to online lectures than teachers: study

About 60% of higher education students prefer hybrid lectures with online and offline teaching components, in contrast to less than half of teaching staff who said they felt the same way, a study sponsored by the Macao Tourism and Hospitality Association (MacTHA) has discovered.
The study, an online questionnaire distributed in March, received responses from a total of 82 faculty members and 356 students from four local higher education institutions which offer tourism and hospitality or related programs.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented impacts, one of which being that all Macau schools and universities were suspended in order to contain the spread of the disease. Lectures were moved completely online for the first time in the history of Macau.
The majority of the interviewed respondents did not have any prior online teaching and learning experience, the study discovered. Among the 82 faculty members, less than 10% of faculty members had experienced teaching online courses before February this year. More than 30% of the faculty members had more than 10 years of teaching experience.
Despite faculty members experiencing difficulty preparing and delivering courses online, the study found that online teaching was more convenient and flexible for them.
In terms of preference of teaching mode, just 8% of faculty members preferred only online teaching, 43% preferred teaching both ways, and 47% preferred only face-to-face traditional teaching.
As for students, only 31% of those surveyed had prior online lecture experiences, but they were happy with online lectures.
Contrary to faculty members, the majority of the students preferred a mix of online and face-to-face learning (61%), followed by only face-to-face learning (31%) and only online learning mode (7%).
They have also encountered difficulties in attending classes online despite their greater familiarity with technology.
Although attending classes online was flexible, they gave a negative rating of the workload, time requirement and learning effectiveness. Students appreciated the efforts of faculty members and were generally pleased with their performance.
Both teachers and students reported technical problems, which was the most frequent challenge relating to online lectures. The lack of interaction was also a major problem for them.
Adapting to a new online environment and using these tools was also challenging, as well as being assessed through different methods. Both groups were concerned about fairness in grading and a lack of resources to support online teaching and learning. Some faculty members also noted difficulty in courses that involve practical and hands-on teaching such as culinary and wine classes.
The association pointed out that both faculty members and students in the tourism and hospitality programs need more training and support to adapt to the delivery of online teaching and learning.
In addition to the attitudes towards teaching and learning in an online environment, the study also collected data about participants’ mental health since the Covid-19 outbreak.
Both faculty members and student groups did not report high levels of stress during this period. They also thought the pandemic did not seriously affect teaching or learning performance.
The positive mentality towards stress brought on by the pandemic, the association estimated, could be due to the relatively low number of confirmed cases in Macau and the expedited reaction by the government in controlling the situation.
“We hope this research study sheds some light on education planning in tertiary education, particularly in the tourism and hospitality field,” MacTHA wrote in a statement. “So that decision makers understand the effort and direction needed for both faculty members and students to be prepared and supported for remote teaching and learning through online technology if it is to become the new norm in the future.”

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