Donegal ETB’s Further Education and Training (FET) Service has released a research report examining the provision of its teaching, learning and assessment during the COVID-19 pandemic.
FET Centres closed on 12 March following the Government announcement of a two week closure of schools, pre-schools and further and higher education settings, to support efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19.
The impact of prolonged centre closures on teaching, learning and assessment was difficult to predict. However, work with students continued and Donegal ETB introduced modified arrangements for teaching, learning and assessment where possible.
Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) requested ETBs to evaluate these modified arrangements in the form of a research report undertaken as part of national feedback across the tertiary education sector. This allowed Donegal ETB to examine what worked well and what they can improve.
To gather information and evaluate the impact of modified teaching, learning and assessment arrangements, a number of surveys were developed to obtain feedback from students, staff and programme managers with almost five hundred returned.
The main objectives of the surveys were to capture what students and staff considered noteworthy; to facilitate the sharing of good practice; to identify what challenges students and staff encountered during the COVID-19 restrictions and to assist programme managers in planning to overcome them and to identify key themes to help inform future planning within the COVID-19 restrictions.
Throughout the survey feedback, clear themes emerged from students and staff in relation to remote teaching, learning and assessment in comparison to what had previously been normal practice.
One of the most prevalent themes to emerge was the loss of face-to-face interaction between staff and students, students with their peers, and staff with their colleagues.
However, despite the challenges students were very clear about what worked well in overcoming the loss of being able to attend normal classes. The support they received from the staff was highlighted and commended throughout the feedback.
A number of positive aspects to the alternative delivery of services where identified including increased self-confidence of students and staff around technology in particular; commitment and collegiality of staff in delivering programmes; recognition by students of staff efforts on their behalf and an overall feeling of achievement that, while not perfect, was a good job within difficult circumstances.
Speaking about the release of the report, Donegal ETB Chief Executive Anne McHugh extended her thanks to Donegal ETB’s FET staff saying, “Our FET staff made and continue to make huge efforts on behalf of our students during the COVID-19 restrictions. Each one has played a part in ensuring continuity of delivery of our wide range of education and training provision, coupled with the administrative and ancillary supports required.”
Further details of the research, including the key themes that have emerged and survey findings can be found here.
Image credit: Clive Wasson Photography.