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Opinion poll about digital instruction

What students and teachers at the University of Freiburg are saying about the 2020 summer semester

Freiburg, Aug 14, 2020

Opinion poll about digital instruction

How the own four walls replaced the seminar room: Due to the corona pandemic, Freiburg students in the 2020 summer semester were forced to work mostly from home. Photo: Klaus Polkowski

The corona pandemic has led to many institutions and companies continuing their operations in spring 2020 using new and, above all, digital means. The members at the University of Freiburg met the challenge of making the 2020 summer semester almost exclusively digital, which meant a major changeover for students and teachers. As a result, the Qualitätsmanagement Studium und Lehre (Department of Quality Management for Studies and Teaching) therefore conducted brief University-wide surveys in June and July 2020, in which students and teachers were able to describe their experiences and opinions about the course of the digital summer semester. A total of 8,459, or about 40 percent of all students at the University of Freiburg and 624 teachers took part in the two surveys, to which they were invited by e-mail. The University published the results on its website in two reports.

In the digital 2020 summer semester, 71 percent of the students surveyed were studying directly in Freiburg, and a further 20 percent took part in events from another location. Around two thirds of those surveyed stated that they would be able to complete their studies in the current semester as planned. Of those who were unable to do so, 47 percent cited the temporary closure of the University Library, 46 percent an inadequate working environment and 31 percent too many required course credits as reasons. The students felt well informed about the changed study conditions, especially through e-mails from the teachers and the University newsletter.

Many Freiburg students suffered from stress during the summer semester. In the survey, 52 percent cited a lack of social contact with others, 36 percent a lack of self-structuring and 30 percent the perception of stress as particularly burdensome factors. In the current situation, the students would particularly like to see more personal exchange, 62 percent of them with fellow students and 46 percent also with teachers. They considered the electronic provision of learning materials, lecture recordings and video conferences, especially via the ILIAS learning platform and the Zoom video conference system, as the most helpful tools in teaching. The students expressed the clear wish to be taught in class again and were generally satisfied with the digital semester.

Of the teachers who offered digital teaching or distance learning in the summer semester, 74 percent felt that the personal changeover was a big deal. The time required to design the courses was rated by 84 percent as high, which meant that their teaching workload was higher than in previous semesters. Other factors that were particularly stressful for them were a lack of social connection and difficulties in achieving a work-life balance. The teachers rated their own teaching as successful. They referred to the contents taught and the technology used. While 62 percent of those surveyed were satisfied with the information, online seminars and training provided by the e-learning department, only 39 percent of them were satisfied with the summer semester in general. In July 2020, the Senate at the University of Freiburg published a statement in which the committee emphasized the importance of face-to-face teaching.

The Department of Quality Management for Studies and Teaching regularly surveys students, teachers and graduates from the University. In this way, the University aims to adapt its course offering and processes to the needs of its members in the long term. Feedback, suggestions and wishes of the respondents from the current surveys are to be incorporated into the planning for the 2020/2021 winter semester.


For more information

Brief student survey (in German)

Brief teacher survey (in German)

A statement from the Senate


Natalie Boros
Qualitätsmanagement Studium & Lehre
Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg


Press photo for download
Photo: Klaus Polkowski