Does post-graduate student retention and performance differ in on-campus offerings from the online offerings, as adjustment due to COVID-19?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction/background: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, educators in most institutions were forced to shift units traditionally delivered in a face-to-face mode to that of a remote, online version, whilst aspects of face-to-face teaching can be shifted online, the impact on learner outcomes is uncertain. A significant paucity exists regarding research on the impact and prospect of online learning as an alternative for postgraduate public health studies. Aim/objectives: The aim of the study was to assess differences in discontinuation and academic performance of students enrolled in a postgraduate public health program pre and during-COVID situations. Methods: Data of 3535 students enrolled in post-graduate public units, delivered both in 2019 and 2020, were analyzed. Multivariable logistic regression analysis, adjusting for student demography and period of enrolment, were employed to assess predictors of discontinuation and performance (a distinction or above grade). Results: Around 70.8% of the students were female and 35.7% were international students. The proportion of discontinuation was slightly lower in 2020 (34.2% vs 32.9%). The odds of scoring a distinction or higher grade was higher in 2020 [OR 1.4 (95%CI; 1.2-1.6; p<0.001)] and among domestic students [OR2.5 (95%CI; 2.2-3.0; p<0.001)]. Only enrolment in semester-two [OR1.4 (95%CI; 1.2-1.6; p<0.001)] appeared to increase discontinuation. Discussion: Monash University made series of adjustments in 2020 to facilitate teaching into tech-based online learning. Hence, comparison between 2019 and 2020 serves as a proxy for comparison between COVID and pre-COVID scenarios. Our results suggest, online mode of delivery as an adjustment for the COVID scenario does not seem to increase discontinuation, rather increase student’s performance. Further research is required to understand the precise dynamics of this paradoxical effect. Conclusions: Online teaching in postgraduate public health education as an adjustment for the COVID scenario does not seem to affect retention, rather likely to increase student’s performance.


ConferenceAustralian & New Zealand Association for Health Professional Educators Conference 2021
Abbreviated titleANZAHPE 2021
Cityvirtual conference
OtherANZAHPE Festival 2021
Theme: Moving forward in ambiguity
Internet address

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