The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020 on the Quality of STEM Higher Education
Pintaric, Zorka Novak
Kravanja, Zdravko
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Pintaric Z.N., Kravanja Z., 2020, The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in 2020 on the Quality of STEM Higher Education, Chemical Engineering Transactions, 81, 1315-1320.
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Pandemic COVID-19 has forced universities around the world to go online virtually overnight. This has been a major challenge, especially for study programmes in STEM areas (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) where distance learning was not previously preferred. This was mainly due to a large proportion of the experimental laboratory work done by students, which could reach up to half of all contact hours. While the lectures were utilized practically immediately after lockdown using video conferencing systems, the implementation of the practical study contents posed a greater challenge. This paper presents specific adaptations for certain activities in the university education of chemical engineering that had to be implemented quickly, such as laboratory and computer exercises, students' final theses and dissertations, internships, knowledge examination and evaluation. We highlight the most critical activities and most urgent solutions that were initiated. Various measures taken against the spread of the coronavirus had to take into account many uncertainties about the duration of the pandemic to ensure that students acquire the desired competences and skills in time without being physically present in the laboratories. Particular attention is paid to examinations, especially calculus tests, which are difficult to apply remotely. First evaluations show that the adapted learning process has been carried out effectively, but the big unknown is how successfully the students will pass the exams and how the lessons will be conducted in next academic year.
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