TU Berlin does not regularly conduct central instructor surveys. However, two special surveys assessing teaching conditions and workload were conducted within the context of the coronavirus pandemic. These were commissioned by the vice president for education and teaching and were aimed at all TU Berlin employees with teaching responsibilities.
The second central instructor survey on teaching and conducting examinations under pandemic conditions was held from 16 November to 12 December 2021. It surveyed all professors, research and teaching assistants, contract teachers, as well as other groups of instructors. The aim of this second survey was to assess the current challenges of teaching and holding examinations in order to implement any necessary changes as quickly as possible. The data also provided a foundation for an empirically-founded interim assessment of digital teaching and examinations at TU Berlin which can be used to further develop studies and teaching.
The instructor survey was designed together with the student survey on the same topic, allowing a number of results to be compared. A detailed report comparing the results of both groups can be found at “Kurzbericht Bilanzbefragungen: Vergleich Studierende/Lehrende WiSe 21/22” (Sascha Kubath/Wenke Seemann, 2022).
Teaching situation in winter semester 2021/22
The assessment of winter semester 2021/22 is varied. The planned combination of face-to-face and online offers shifted increasingly towards online offers over the course of the semester as a result of changes in the pandemic. The combination of digital and in person offers was assessed as suboptimal due to a lack of classrooms (WLAN) at TU Berlin. This made it impossible for students to quickly alternate between one format and another. One third of instructors offered hybrid formats. However, they frequently encountered technical issues. Overall, instructors identified room planning and an inadequate technical infrastructure in classrooms as the most significant problem in winter semester 2021/22.
Digital teaching under pandemic conditions
Critical findings must be acknowledged, particularly in comparison with the data from the first 2020 instructor survey (Seemann 2020): Compared to summer 2020 (48%), the teaching workload significantly increased. 72% of those surveyed indicated a greater or significantly greater workload compared to regular face-to-face teaching. The assessment of the quality of communication and interaction with students, on the other hand, is significantly worse: The proportion of instructors who indicated a (significantly) lower quality in communication considerably increased from 37% in 2020 to 71%. Additionally, 71% of respondents said that students’ active participation is (significantly) lower compared to regular face-to-face teaching.
Due to essential-only presence (20.03-17.05.2020) as well as restricted in-presence operations (11.03.-19.03 and beginning 18.05.2020) implemented in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, teaching in summer semester 2020 at TU Berlin was switched to digital formats only for the first time. The first central instructor survey 2020 served to record instructors’ experiences of
organizing and implementing online teaching and their assessment of the specific challenges and potential this provided as well as the need for action for the 2020/21 winter semester . The objective of the survey was to identify the necessary changes for teaching operations under pandemic conditions and discuss these in committees on the basis of this empirical assessment.
From the perspective of the majority of instructors, TU Berlin generally mastered the digital online semester well. Given the circumstances, TU Berlin's crisis management was positively evaluated by a clear majority.
In light of the current situation regarding the pandemic with no foreseeable end, the following aspects should be discussed with regard to a short and medium-term improvement of the prerequisites and conditions for good teaching at TU Berlin (see Need for action): dealing with overtime, workload, and equipment shortfalls, dealing with drop-out rates of students in courses and the considerably reduced quality of communication/interaction between teachers and students.
The results were presented and discussed in the following committees:
Dekanerunde - 09.10.2020
Quality Management Working Group (with deans of studies) - 22.10.2020
Academic Senate - 28.10.2020
Meeting of the Executive Board (recommendations for action) - 10.11.2020
Teaching Committee (recommendations for action) - 17.11.2020