High work pressure teachers persists

85 per cent of WUR teaching staff experiences higher work pressure since corona.
High work pressure. Photo: Shutterstock

This is revealed in an evaluation conducted by Tim Stevens (Education and Learning Sciences). ‘Before corona, the work pressure was already high’, Stevens states. ‘In periods 5 and 6 of the last academic year, it increased even further as a result of the switch to online teaching. For period 1 of this academic year, teachers have more preparation time and increased options for blended education: a mix of online and offline classes. Teachers are extremely motivated to provide the best possible education, so, many teachers have invested extra effort. On the one hand, part of the teachers are more optimistic about the quality of their lectures, on the other hand, this leads to added work pressure and stress.’

Stevens expects the pressure to remain at this level for the time being and warns that teachers will not be able to handle this pressure for long. ‘This is precisely what some of the teachers state in the answers to the open questions in the survey. Many teachers indicate they were exhausted after the period of blended online and campus teaching. The organisation and logistics have become more complex and demanding.’

The majority of the teachers (66 per cent) taught online for the entire first period. Stevens: ‘That is a simpler adjustment than redesigning the entire course for blended education. On the one hand, the satisfaction seems to be higher in teachers that redesign the course. This allows them to design the course in line with their personal preferences.’

Students: motivation

While teachers are very motivated but suffer from work pressure, students are experiencing motivation issues. No less than 57 per cent indicated they are ‘not motivated’. Most students only visit the campus when they have a class (70 per cent), and just under a quarter (24 per cent) states, they don’t go to all the campus activities. Stevens: ‘I thought that was quite a lot, but part of the students felt that being present on campus for activities that were simultaneously offered online, held little added value.’

Over a third of the students had no campus classes at all in period 1. Stevens: ‘Some courses make use of the option to teach on campus, others remained completely online.’

Changes remain

There are some sparks of hope. Teachers are more optimistic about online education. ‘The number of teachers who indicate they will retain some of the adjustments they have made after the corona pandemic ends has increased’, Stevens says. ‘And, although there is a marked preference for campus education, 67 per cent of the students feel that certain online activities should remain after the pandemic.’

Stevens is currently studying what the influence of variables such as position, age and gender is on motivation and stress. ‘I hope to gain more insight into possible differences in work pressure and motivation through these variables.’

Some results

  • 79 per cent of the teachers say they have become more skilled at online teaching; 42 per cent does not like teaching online; 39 per cent does enjoy teaching online.
  • 85 per cent of the teachers experienced an increase in work pressure since the start of online education; 62 experienced stress as a result of online teaching.
  • 36 per cent of the teachers have trouble combining work and private time; 39 per cent indicates that teaching online negatively impacts their well-being.
  • 67 per cent of the teachers think students are less motivated than before corona; 51 per cent feels students are less committed; 63 per cent says students are not collaborating as well as before; 55 per cent thinks student participation has dropped.
  • 41 per cent expects students to study less effectively.
  • According to 7 per cent of the teachers, one or more of the learning targets was not met.

Want to stay updated on this research? Follow the Microsoft Teams Groip WUR Education in Covid-19 times: Research Results.

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