The speed and intensity of the impact of Covid 19 on traditional methods of tertiary education delivery demanded rapid responses in order to ensure ongoing delivery of quality education and to minimise reduction in student numbers in dire circumstances. Universities appear to have done a reasonable job of implementing and adjusting to online and/or multi-modal program delivery (i.e. contemporaneously teaching to students in the classroom and students on line). However, to deny there were challenges would be to bury heads in the sand and fail to learn lessons that might assist with continuous education delivery improvement in the future. Problems encountered typically included dealing with increased preparation demands, managing student engagement, integrating input from students in two very different learning environments, accepting that alternate and authentic assessment methods were necessary, and the like. While the academics with whom I discussed the current teaching environment tended to fall into two distinctly different categories (those very concerned with capacity to deliver as good a teaching ‘product’ via multi-modal as can be delivered face to face, and those confident there was little difference between methods from either student or teacher perspectives) Prudence suggests a more scientific approach to evaluation than gut-feeling. This research compared the results of student assessment of teaching (e-Tevals) for three semesters prior to and three semesters during the Covid pandemic. The review covered a wide range of subjects in the built environment disciplines, and analysed both quantitative and qualitative feedback. The study covered subject feedback only and for ethical reasons did not address feedback about educators. Qualitative comments were adjusted in words to have the same meaning as written by those providing feedback, while removing the possibility particular students might be able to be identified from comments.
Dr. Alan Patching is professor of Construction Management, Quantity Surveying, and Project Management, and an Associate Dean at Australia’s Bond University. Professor Patching entered full-time academia some six years ago, bringing to students several decades of experience as a project manager/director of large, complex projects, including the Sydney Olympic Stadium, for which he was owner’s Project Director in charge of design and construction, and Chief Executive Officer of the venue’s owning entity. In all he directed some $20 billion (in 2020 values) of major projects across a range of development types before entering academia, and also negotiated some of the largest construction and property deals in his country’s history. Patching holds qualifications in construction management and project management, and in counselling and psychotherapy practice. His PhD and research interest joins these two areas of practice to address attitudes to the impacts of stress among construction professionals. He also believes many professional educators might have felt increasing stress levels in response to the difficulties associated with Covid-motivated innovative approaches to the delivery of construction-related education.