Challenges for University teachers in the midst of a paradigm shift

Sofia Antera, Manos Pavlakis


The COVID-19 pandemic suddenly became a reality at the beginning of 2020, affecting all parts of everyday life with higher education included. Teaching and learning were transferred online without any particular preparation in many cases, leading to the emergent distance education mode. Nevertheless, discussions have been centered around how this sudden change has led to a paradigm shift in education and how this shift is perceived by the actors included in it. This study presents the perspective of university teachers, in Sweden and Greece, as the receivers of this change but also as the facilitators of learning in this new setting. Focus group discussions showed how changes in higher education during the pandemic have reflected the stages of a paradigm shift according to Kuhn's theory. These stages are summarised in three waves, representing the sudden shift, the concerns for the new learning mode, and, finally, the challenge of the system and the reconsideration of identities. While university teachers in both groups seem to have experienced the process similarly, negative feelings towards change were observed to a higher extent in the Greek group, indicating a higher lack of trust in the respective higher education institution and the overall Greek education system.


University teaching, online learning, emergency education, paradigm shift

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