Background. The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant influence on all spheres of society. This influence was particularly apparent in healthcare and in the training of health professionals within an already resource-constrained country such as South Africa. The purpose of this study was to explore the challenges and opportunities for learning from the point of view of students undertaking the Bachelor of Health Sciences (BHSc) in Clinical Technology programme, which is a specialised and distinctive field, as well as the academics involved in this programme.
Objective. To explore how the clinical training practice component of the undergraduate programme was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Methods. A qualitative, exploratory research design was used. A non-probability purposive sampling method was selected. Students and academics were recruited and sampled. The first sample comprised 15 students from each of the 17 clinical departments where clinical training was undertaken. The second sample included 4 academics who were involved in teaching and supervising the placement of students at various healthcare institutions. Data were gathered using in-depth, semi-structured interviews on an adapted version of Gibbs’ cycle of reflection. Six questions were presented to each participant, underpinned by the findings from the literature review and modified specifically to the context of this study.
Results. Four broad themes emerged: support for teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic; impact of the pandemic on students’ mental wellbeing; transitioning to the online learning space; and finding opportunities in the time of crisis.
Conclusion. This study highlights the issues of preparedness for crisis situations by higher education institutions, academics and students and underscores the need for curricula to be more responsive to student and societal needs.
SchultenK.Coronavirusresources:Teaching,learningandthinkingcritically.TheNewYorkTimes,11March2020. 2. Sintema EJ. Effect of COVID-19on the performance of grade 12 students: Implications for STEM education.
Eurasia J Maths Sci Tech Educ 2020;16:1-6. https://doi.org/10.29333/ejmste/7893
Prasad N, Fernando S, Willey S, Davey K, Malhotra A, Kumar A. Online interprofessional simulation for
undergraduate health professional students during the COVID-19pandemic. J Interprof Care 2020;34(5):706-
Besser A, Flett GL, Zeigler-Hill V. Adaptability to a sudden transition to online learning during the
COVID-19pandemic: Understanding the challenges for students. Scholarship Teach Learn Psychol 2022;8(2):85.
Almoayad F, Almuwais A, Alqabbani SF, Benajiba N. Health professional students’ perceptions and experiences of remote learning during the COVID-19pandemic. Int J Learn Teach Educ Res 2020;19(8):313-329. https://doi. org/10.26803/ijlter.19.8.17
Pandit D, Agrawal S. Exploring the challenges of online education in COVID times. FIIB Business Rev 2022;11(3):263-270. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406917733847
Polit DF, Beck TC. Generating and Assessing Evidence for Nursing Practice. 10th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins, 2016:15-35.
Van der Walt C, van Rensburg G. Fundamentals of Research Methodology for Health Care Professionals. Cape Town: Juta, 2017:113-120.
PalmerA,BurnsS,BulmanC.ReflectivePracticeinNursing:TheGrowthoftheProfessionalPractitioner.Oxford: Blackwell Scientific, 1994:97-120.
ClarkeV,BraunV.SuccessfulQualitativeResearch:APracticalGuideforBeginners.London:SAGE,2013:159-171. 11. Nowell LS, Norris JM, White DE, Moules NJ. Thematic analysis: Striving to meet the trustworthiness criteria. Int
J Quali Methods 2017;16(1):1609. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406917733847
Lincoln YS, Guba EG. But is it rigorous? Trustworthiness and authenticity in naturalistic evaluation. New Direct
Program Eval 1986;30:73-84. https://doi.org/10.1002/ev.1427
Korstjens I, Moser A. Practical guidance to qualitative research. Part 4: Trustworthiness and publishing. Euro J
General Pract 2018;24(1):120-124. https://doi.org/10.1080/13814788.2017.1375092
Händel M, Stephan M, Gläser-Zikuda M, Kopp B, Bedenlier S, Ziegler A. Digital readiness and its effects on higher education student socio-emotional experiences in the context of COVID-19pandemic. PsyArXiv July
Elmer T, Mepham K, Stadtfeld C. Students under lockdown: Comparisons of students’ social networks and
mental health before and during the COVID-19crisis in Switzerland. PLoS ONE 2020;15(7):1-22. https://doi.
Stadtfeld C, Vörös A, Elmer T, Boda Z, Raabe IJ. Integration in emerging social networks explains academic failure and success. Proc Nat Acad Sci 2019;116(3):792-797. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1811388115
Odriozola-González P, Planchuelo-Gómez Á, Irurtia MJ, de Luis-García R. Psychological effects of the COVID-19outbreak and lockdown among students and workers of a Spanish university. Psychiat Res 2020;290:113108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.113108
Joshi O, Chapagain B, Kharel G, Poudyal NC, Murray BD. Benefits and challenges of online instruction in agriculture and natural resource education. Interact Learn Environ 2022;30(8):1402-1413. https://doi.org/10.1 080/10494820.2020.1725896
Yeung MWL, Yau AHY. A thematic analysis of higher education students’ perceptions of online learning in Hong Kong under COVID-19: Challenges, strategies and support. Educ Inform Tech 2022;27(1):181-208. https://doi. org/10.1007/s10639-021-10656-3
Guangul FM, Suhail AH, Khalit MI, et al. Challenges of remote assessment in higher education in the context of COVID-19: A case study of Middle East College. Educ Asse Eval Acc 2020;32:519-535. https://doi.org/10.1007/ s11092-020-09340-w
Mooney CJ, Peyre SE, Clark NS, et al. Rapid transition to online assessment: Practical steps and unanticipated advantages. Med Educ 2020;54(9):857-858. https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.14225
Khan AM, Patra S, Vaney N, Mehndiratta M, Chauhan R. Rapid transition to online practical classes in preclinical subjects during COVID-19: Experience from a medical college in North India. Med J Armed Forces India 2021;77(Suppl 1):S161-S167.
Su F, Rao N. Developing a blended learning model in the context of COVID-19pandemic. https://www.researchgate. net/publication/341709279_Developing_a_blended_ learning_model_in_the_context_of_COVID-19_pandemic (accessed 4 September 2023).
Phillips J, Wiesbauer F. The flipped classroom in medical education: A new standard in teaching. Trends Anaes Crit Care 2022;42:4-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tacc.2022.01.001
Husain FN. Use of digital assessments how to utilise digital Bloom to accommodate online learning and assessments? Asian J Educ Training 2021;7(1):30-35. https://doi.org/10.20448/journal.522.2021.71.30.35
Cobo-Rendón R, Bruna JC, Lobos K, Cisternas SMN, Guzman E. Return to university classrooms with blended learning: A possible post-pandemic COVID-19scenario. Front Educ 2020;7:957175. https://doi.org/10.3389/ feduc.2022.957175
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Copyright (c) 2023 R Prakaschandra, R Meyer, R Bhagwan