What Happened Next: Read a review of our BERT Seminar

Dr Jack Walton

In this post Dr Jack Walton, CRADLE Research Fellow, reviews Jaclyn Broadbent’s seminar on Beyond Emergency Remote Teaching. This seminar was the third in our seminar series for 2024.

What Happened Next? Beyond Emergency Remote Teaching

A couple of weeks ago we were lucky to host Associate Professor Jaclyn Broadbent in the third instalment of the CRADLE seminar series for 2024.

In this seminar, Jaclyn spoke to the recent project Beyond Emergency Remote Teaching (B.E.R.T. for short), which focused on curricular changes that were retained at Deakin following the onset of COVID-related emergency remote teaching adaptations in 2020 (see Broadbent et al., 2023).

Associate Professor Jaclyn Broadbent

As Jaclyn pointed out at the beginning of her talk, a great deal of research was produced in the earlier throes of the COVID-19 pandemic to document adaptations that were made to the regular program of learning and teaching in various parts of higher education. The passage of time has seen growing calls for new research that compares current educational practices and those of pre-pandemic times, and the long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on curriculum development (see for example, Imran et al., 2023; Kerres & Buchner, 2022).

Taking an interest in these before-and-after differences, B.E.R.T. was a comparison of educational practices at Deakin in 2019 and 2022/2023 focusing on shifts in the usage of class time, changes in assessment methods, variations in the nature and frequency of exams, and influential factors of change.

What did the survey of units find?

  • 63% of units retained changes made to assessment (including overall increases in authentic tasks, online delivery, and scaffolded assessments)
  • In 2019, 97% of units had an invigilated on-campus exam, however, by 2023 33% had removed exams entirely, and only one clinical exam remained on campus (others shifted to various online modes)

What were the factors behind the changes?

To theorise the factors underlying changes, the B.E.R.T. team drew on Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory (1977, 1979) to distinguish between influential factors at the levels of individual academics themselves (Bonfenbrenner’s individual), up through the discipline and faculty level (the microsystem), the university itself (the mesosystem), and further external factors (the exosystem).

The most influential factors that B.E.R.T. uncovered across the units studied included:

Desire to innovate, academic integrity concerns, and reflective practice

Local leadership, in the sense of discipline-specific and faculty-level facilitation of change

Availability of resources, organisational instructions, and time/workload pressures

Continued COVID-19 issues, such as staff shortages and illness related to COVID-19

In bringing together these findings Jaclyn concluded that the units studied clearly did not revert to pre-pandemic ways, and even showed an intensified commitment to inclusivity and student learning, all underpinned by multiple interconnected factors.

About Jack Walton

Jack recently joined CRADLE as a Research Fellow working on a two year program of research ‘Assessment in a time of genAI’. Jack came to CRADLE from the University of Queensland and holds a Bachelor of Music. Jack’s PhD developed a theorisation of assessment in university music education.

His main research interests include assessment, judgement, and creative practice.

If you missed the seminar, you can catch up on our YouTube channel or our Seminar blog page.


Broadbent, J., Ajjawi, R., Bearman, M., Boud, D., Dawson, P. (2023). Beyond emergency remote teaching: did the pandemic lead to lasting change in university courses? International Journal of Educational Technology in Higher Education, 20, 58. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-023-00428-z

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1977). Toward an experimental ecology of human development. American Psychologist32(7). 513-531 https://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.1037/0003-066X.32.7.513

Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development: Experiments by nature and design. Harvard University Press. https://www.hup.harvard.edu/books/9780674028845

Imran, R., Fatima, A., Salem, I. E., & Allil, K. (2023). Teaching and learning delivery modes in higher education: Looking back to move forward post-COVID-19 era. The International Journal of Management Education21(2). 100805. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijme.2023.100805

Kerres, M., & Buchner, J. (2022). Education after the pandemic: What we have (not) learned about learning. Education Sciences12(5). 315. https://doi.org/10.3390/educsci12050315

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