Track 3: Lessons from Covid

Premiere: Wednesday 22 June 2022, starting 3pm BST//10am EDT

Economics Education in the Covid-19 Pandemic: What Was Done and What Should Be Done

Adam Cox, University of Portsmouth 

Premieres 3pm BST//10am EDT


The Covid-19 pandemic changed the Higher Education Learning, Teaching and Assessment landscape worldwide. This has brought about discussion on the challenges and opportunities for transformation and how these are perceived within and outside of the Higher Education sector.

This paper seeks to understand of how teaching, learning, and assessment practices of Economics courses in the UK Higher Education sector have been adapted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The analysis is developed through thematic analysis, where we explore: (i) the degree of autonomy delegated to individual teaching units over the process of adaptation of teaching practice, (ii) the tension between process-driven approaches versus pedagogical enhancement approaches, (iii) barriers and enablers to the implementation of a desired response, and (iv) elements of innovative practice that are planned to be retained at the end of the social distancing restrictions.

The analysis draws on semi-structured interviews conducted with key role-holders who were responsible for reviewing, re-designing and implementing changes to teaching practice over the academic years 2019-20 and 2020-21 in a range of university departments, schools, and units offering Economics courses in the United Kingdom.

Analysis is ongoing to compare and contrast the practices emerging from our analysis with those outlined in the Economics Network Virtual Symposium held in 2020 to investigate the emergence of specific elements of good practice in Economics education in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In this presentation we share a preliminary analysis of common themes arising from the rich dataset collected.

COVID as a Springboard: Taking COVID Curriculum Innovation into a Post-COVID Era 

Jana Sadeh, University of Southampton 

Premieres, 3.15pm BST//10.15am EDT


The investment in curriculum innovation in higher education reached an all-time high in 2020/21 as many of us had to take the status quo and turn it on its head. In the process we have developed new skills, tools and content which doesn’t clearly translate into the face-to-face environment we now find ourselves back in. In my department we have spent many hours discussing the new challenges that are arising from this transition phase. From conversations with colleagues from around the world I can see that we are not alone. Students have settled into a default of consuming content online and drawing them back into the lecture halls has become a struggle. In addition, peer networks are weakened from two years of disrupted interaction and students no longer have a support system to carry them through the more challenging times in their studies. At the same time, we have a new arsenal of skills, in using technology to allow us to communicate in ways that few of us had experience with pre-COVID. We are able to shift the paradigm of learning, with clever use of online content that frees up our face-to-face lecture for more supportive learning.

In an attempt to nurture the lessons learned from COVID I draw on my experiences of leading a flipped-cooperative learning module for the first time, and from in-depth conversations with students about their experiences with online learning to reflect on what teaching can look like in the coming years. While extracting some guiding principles for approaching the year ahead, I reflect on why it is important to keep some of the COVID innovations, not only in order to reap fruits of our investment but also to question the established status quo of chalk and talk lectures as the best way of imparting knowledge and skills in a less costly environment.

Experiences from Flipping a Bachelor Level Banking Course

Panu Kalmi, University of Vassa 

Premieres 3.30pm BST//10.30am EDT


In economics teaching, “flipped” learning has become fashionable and there have been several studies on the subject (e.g. Balaban et al., 2016; Mendez-Carbajo and Malakar, 2020). Most of these studies have related to the early principles level studies. I present a description how the flipped learning principles were introduced at the a bachelor level (2nd year) banking course at the University of Vaasa. The teaching experiment took place in the fall of 2021.

The course was conducted in the context of COVID-19 restrictions, which meant that a relatively large course like this (over 100 participants) had to be taught online. The previous versions of the course had been based on continuous assignments and group work, and there was no exam present. In the reformed version of the course, students had to prepare for the course by completing prior assignments that took place before the joint online session. The assignments were based on videos and prior readings. In the joint session, there was a brief discussion of the prior assignments, followed by a minilecture and thereafter joint group work on banking related topics, where students were given questions they needed to answer in groups. The prior assignments and participation in the group work were mandatory. The second part of the course consisted of assignments in fixed groups, where students too predefined roles. For instance, some students took a role supporting payday lending while others were critical towards it. The group work was structured as role play.

In the presentation, I discuss how the teaching approach changed, what this type of teaching required from the lecturer, and what kind of feedback the students gave on the course.

Dissertation Extensions and Academic Performance

Emanuela Lotti and Panagiotis Giannarakis, University of Southampton 

Premieres 3.45-4pm BST//10.45am EDT


Procrastination, or the irrational delay of an intended course of action, is typically believed to be an undesirable trait which is associated with sub-optimal outcomes. In higher education this is mostly displayed in last minute work on coursework and dissertations resulting in a demand for deadline extensions. University policy only allows students to apply for extensions in “exceptional circumstances outside of the student’s control, that may have a negative effect upon performance or ability to meet a deadline or to sit an examination”.  These typically include bereavement, serious short-term illness or significant adverse personal circumstances. The COVID pandemic resulted in a relaxation of conditions under which students were able to obtain an extension on their dissertation deadline, with a no-questions-asked policy for short-term extensions (up to 14 days). It removed the need to provide supporting evidence and included technical issues as a reason to request an extension. As a result of this relaxation, extension requests tripled in both years following the start of the pandemic. 

Students whose reasons for requesting extensions comply with pre-COVID rules are likely to raise these reasons as justification for the request. The no-question asked policy presented an opportunity for procrastinators to also obtain extensions.  This study looks at the impact of granting extensions on the performance of students on the dissertation module and on other, concurrently assessed, modules. We separate the analysis based on the length of the extension and analyse the impact of this relaxation in this policy.   

From our analysis of the data, we find that students who receive longer extensions are associated with a lower performance in the dissertation itself and also in some of the other modules that are taking place concurrently. Controlling for programme of study, supervisor, dissertation topic and previous academic performance, the results persist.

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