The COVID-19 pandemic is currently a major public health issue across Europe. It has affected all areas of people´s everyday life, including education. In spring 2020 most of the teachers of all levels around the world had to move from schools and universities to their homes and almost overnight changed their traditional methods of instruction to online teaching.
The EFPA (European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations) Board of Educational Affairs has created an online survey to investigate how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the teaching of psychology. The survey was conducted by the EFPA Board of Educational Affairs in cooperation with the European Federation of Psychology Teachers´ Associations (EFPTA) and the European Society for Psychology Learning and Teaching (ESPLAT). Our aim was to investigate the experiences of psychology teachers at different levels of education from different European countries with online/distance teaching of psychology.
The survey was conducted from April to July 2020 with a total of 696 participants from 28 European countries. The survey has also been translated into Japanese and data have been collected in Japan. Psychology educators around Europe reported similar experiences in their online teaching. They used a plethora of online collaboration tools to support their teaching. Even though they were able to adapt their teaching to the new situation, they reported some subject-specific limitations in the online teaching of psychology (e.g. difficulties in teaching practical skills). Another challenge to the online training of psychologists was the use of assessment instruments, copyrighted and sensitive materials, which our participants mentioned as a limitation and which can also have legal consequences for lecturers. Online teaching resulted in increased workload for our participants compared to standard teaching and for many of them also a challenge in motivating students to participate. On the other hand, educators also mentioned positive aspects arising from this experience, such as being able to improve their digital skills and finding new methods of teaching.
We believe that more detailed analysis of both good practices and barriers can lead to the improvement of the teaching of psychology in the future. Findings will provide further guidance and examples of good practice to support psychology teachers in this difficult time. The preliminary findings were presented at an EFPA webinar with the title “Psychology education and psychology of education in post COVID-19 times” (can be accessed here: https://efpa.magzmaker.com/covid_19/efpa_webinars) and will also be published in an academic journal paper.
It is our strong belief that clear guidelines for quality assurance in the form of quality standard indicators of online education in psychology must be put in place to ensure high quality teaching and maximize student motivation and learning. Furthermore, there is a necessity for professional development and training of faculty in online education delivery so that they are able to use digital technology to facilitate teaching and learning and become knowledgeable in the digital tools available that can support this process.
About EFPA Board of Educational Affairs: The European Federation of Psychologists’ Associations (EFPA) Board of Educational Affairs was founded at the EFPA General Assembly in 2011 as a permanent body that monitors and assesses developments in the teaching of psychology. It focuses its activities on the academic education of psychology at all levels (BA, MA, PhD, postgraduate), the teaching of psychology to other professions, the teaching of psychology in pre-tertiary education and to the general public. Currently the Board has members from sixteen European countries (Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Slovakia, Slovenia, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom) and cooperates actively with other bodies involved in the teaching of psychology.
Ioulia Papageorgi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Sciences and Associate Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Nicosia. Her research interests focus on test anxiety, psychometric testing, music performance anxiety, the development of expertise, music training and cognitive development, as well as teaching and learning in psychology. Ioulia is the Convenor of the EFPA Board of Educational Affairs. Additionally, she currently serves on the Cyprus National Bioethics Committee as a member of the Review Bioethics Committee for Biomedical Research (2018-2021). Ioulia has previously served on the board of the Cyprus Psychologists’ Association (2015-2017 as Vice-President; 2013-2015 as Treasurer).
Lenka Sokolová is an associate professor of educational psychology and the didactics of psychology at the Comenius University in Bratislava, Slovakia. Her research interests include teaching of psychology, educational psychology, classroom management and individual psychology of Alfred Adler. Currently, she is the President of the European Federation of Psychology Teachers’ Associations (EFPTA), the chair of the Slovak Association for the Teaching of Psychology (SATP) and a member of the EFPA Board of Educational Affairs.