A Multi-Institutional Assessment of Changes in Higher Education Teaching and Learning in the Face of COVID-19

Document Type


Publication Date



COVID-19 has had a profound influence on the conduct of teaching and learning in higher education. Almost everywhere a sudden shift occurred as educators transitioned courses from mainly face-to-face teaching and learning to emergency remote instruction; mostly conducted online. While details varied for individual faculty members; institutions; and countries; all confronted new challenges. We examine the immediate effects of COVID-19 on teaching and learning in higher education. Our results are based on a sample of 309 courses; and the academic staff who taught them; at eight colleges and universities varying in size and context across four continents. We document first how institutions; and their instructors; varied in their capacity for dealing with the rapidity of the COVID-19 teaching and learning pivot. We further demonstrate that the suddenness of the pandemic’s onset; and the quick response this demanded of instructors; meant that there was little systematic patterning in how academic staff were able to adapt – save for nimbleness. Rapidity of response meant differences were far more idiosyncratic than they were systematic; at least with respect to how individual faculty responded.