University of Mannheim: University teaching in Corona times: Those who see online teaching as an opportunity are more successful

The outbreak of the corona pandemic presented university lecturers worldwide with the sudden challenge of changing their teaching: Instead of traditional face-to-face teaching, they had to set up digital courses at short notice. A cooperation project between the Universities of Mannheim and Augsburg is now making it clear how different the lecturers’ track record is and which factors influence the success of teaching. The researchers linked data that they collected before and during the corona pandemic.

The results of the study show that lecturers can cope better with the switch to online teaching if their own professional development is important to them. “Lecturers who said they were interested in developing their professional skills before the pandemic saw the new situation as an opportunity to expand their skills,” explains Oliver Dickhäuser, project manager and holder of the chair for educational psychology at the University of Mannheim. “As a result, they perceive the change as a positive challenge and are better able to avoid burnout symptoms and realize a good quality of teaching.”

A contrasting picture emerges with colleagues who are less focused on their own learning: If lecturers had little interest in acquiring new skills even before the pandemic, they perceived the changed situation as threatening. They were at a higher risk of showing symptoms of burnout and the quality of their teaching was rated lower.

A similar picture emerged with lecturers, whose primary interest lay in appearing as competent as possible, as well as with those who wanted to redesign their seminars and lectures with as little additional effort as possible.

“University lecturers who see unexpected challenges as opportunities for their own further development can deal with them better,” summarizes Dickhäuser.