Impact of COVID on student performance and perception in a carousel based online postgraduate public health degree program

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


Introduction/background: The number of fully- online course offerings in the health professions has significantly increased over the past decade. Online learning is particularly appealing for learners who find the traditional classroom modality restrictive, inflexible, and impractical. The current pandemic has made online courses appealing to educators and learners alike; however, little evidence exists regarding its impact on student outcomes. Aim/objectives: To compare the academic performance and perception of the students taught online before and during the COVID-19 pandemic in a postgraduate course. Methods: Data of 2376 students enrolled in carousal-based graduate courses, during 2019 and 2020, were included analyzed. Student demographics, unit completion status, grades, and student evaluation scores (SETU) were compared. Marks and SETU were compared between the two years using an Independent t-test. A multivariable logistic regression model was fitted to assess change. Results: Around 75.5% of the students were female. On average students scored 6.1%, more marks in 2020 compared to 2019. Adjusting for teaching period and gender, 36% increase in the discontinuation [OR-1.36;95%CI:1.14-1.6; p<0.001)], and 2-times more distinction or higher grade [OR-2.12;95%CI: 1.7-2.6; p<0.001)] is evident in 2020. SETU of units remained similar (4.3 vs 4.4). Discussion: Although tech-based instruction has made it possible to offer classes through an online learning platform during the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector failed to show much immunity against the brunt of the pandemic impact. Possibly learner's characteristics like motivation and technological comfort level, are standing in between the educational outcomes and potential benefit. Interestingly, staggering inflation in student grades is apparent, possibly a phenomenon that may be coined as ‘pandemic kindness’ in the assessment during the difficult time. Further research with individual learner factors may provide further insight. Conclusions: Despite the anticipated advantage, carousel-based online courses did not show enough immunity against the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic.


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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