The Outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic and its Social Impact on Education: Were Engineering Teachers Ready to Teach Online?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 22;18(4):2127. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18042127.


The major impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic are still affecting all social dimensions. Its specific impact on education is extensive and quite evident in the adaptation from Face-to-Face (F2F) teaching to online methodologies throughout the first wave of the pandemic and the strict rules on lockdown. As lesson formats changed radically, the relevance of evaluating student on-line learning processes in university degrees throughout this period became clear. For this purpose, the perceptions of engineering students towards five specific course units forming part of engineering degree courses at the University of Burgos, Spain, were evaluated to assess the quality of the online teaching they received. Comparisons were also drawn with their perceptions of the F2F teaching of the course units prior to the outbreak of the pandemic. According to the students' perceptions, the teachers possessed the technical knowledge, the social skills, and the personal capabilities (empathy and understanding of the at times troubled situation of each student) for a very abrupt adaptation of their courses to an online methodology. The shortcomings of the online teaching were related to its particularities and each teacher's personality traits. Overall, engineering teachers appeared well prepared for a situation of these characteristics and, if similar online teaching scenarios were ever repeated, the quality of engineering teaching appears to be guaranteed.

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; empathy; engineering courses; face-to-face teaching; human behaviors; online teaching; social activities; social science; student’s perception; teacher support.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Communicable Disease Control
  • Education, Distance / trends*
  • Engineering / trends*
  • Humans
  • Pandemics*
  • Social Change
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Teaching / organization & administration*
  • Universities