During the first months of 2021, the Linnaeus Union collected opinions from students at Linnaeus University for the formation of student submissions to the faculties and the Board of Teacher Education (NLU). The submissions focused on questions about the quality of education, teachers' knowledge, their communication and more.
The education dialogues are conducted once per semester to discuss issues related to education for the faculties and NLU. These student submissions, where we mainly address the boards of the educational associations, have been made for a couple of years, but this semester we had a record number of respondents, which we strongly appreciate!
The most recent semesters have been plagued by the ongoing pandemic, which has also been noticed in the educational dialogues and in the student submissions. In the autumn of 2020, there were two university-wide views:
- Many teachers have a high level of subject knowledge but lack the ability to teach it in a way that students understand.
- In the digital transition, there were many teachers who lacked the technical experience in how to teach digitally.
Ahead of the spring semester 2021, the Linnaeus Union continued to point out a lack of pedagogical skills, even though teachers' technical competence seemed to have increased and is no longer commented on by students. What students were worried about instead was that digital education did not have the same quality as if it had been campus-based. "I did not choose a distance education and the quality has become much worse since the pandemic", skrev en student, och liknande signaler framförs från studenter på andra lärosäten. Detta är något vi tar på stort allvar och fortsätter ta upp i olika sammanhang när universitetet planerar för kommande termin och utvecklingen på universitetet efter pandemin.
Another problem that was raised was the communication between teacher and student, something we appreciate you pointing out. This is even more important in distance learning because you can not stay and talk to the teacher after a lecture, or when recorded lectures make it difficult to ask questions. The importance of teachers communicating clearly and openly with the students is pointed out to the university in all contexts, but is at the same time something students themselves must also take responsibility for; to dare to ask that extra question to the teacher and demand clear communication when it is lacking.
The survey results clearly showed that many students feel worse during the pandemic. Increased anxiety, more stress, lower motivation, deteriorating study environment, greater loneliness and poorer mental well-being are reported from student unions throughout Sweden. This is an issue we take very seriously and which we constantly point out to the university. We think they can be clearer in their information about what kind of help and support is offered to those who feel bad, and we would also like to see individual teachers, course and program managers take greater responsibility for their students' physical and mental well-being. Greater effort is needed!
Both the student submissions and previous signals we have received indicate that the university as a whole needs to review how to work with local rules, students' rights and obligations and how they handle and improve things that lead to problems.
Students are the most important thing at university; without you, the university doesn’t function! As a group, we must point out when something is wrong and take on the role of influencer and driving force in order to develop the teaching that is conducted. Take your responsibility as an individual and influence your education! So fill in that course evaluation, become a student representative and talk to your student union representatives about what is important to you!
Together with you, we create change and opportunities!
Louise Ahlström & Axel Lunden
Responsible for Educational Matters, Linnaeus Union 20/21