Lessons Learnt from Teaching and Learning During Disruptions

  • Marietjie PotgieterEmail author
  • Lynne A. Pilcher
  • Rethabile R. Tekane
  • Ina Louw
  • Lizelle Fletcher


Student protests that are associated with disruption of teaching activities occur sporadically in many countries. Such events usually have a negative impact on teaching and learning, but also provide the impetus for experimentation and renewal of practices. During the student led protest movement #FeesMustFall in South Africa in 2016, three campuses of the University of Pretoria were closed for normal activities for an extended period and most teaching activities went online almost overnight. This study reports on insights gained about the affordances and weaknesses of the online learning environment using self-report data from both lecturers and students. A thematic approach was used to analyse the lecturers’ reflections on challenges faced and lessons learnt. The findings exemplify the resilience of lecturers as they embraced blended learning and their willingness to experiment and improve their practice. A mixed-methods approach was used to explore the student experience of the blended learning offering of first-year organic chemistry. The sample was stratified based on prior performance to uncover possible differences between subgroups. The pre- and post-chemistry e-learning surveys, comprising open and structured response questions, were completed by 1166 and 565 respondents, respectively. Inductive analysis of free response data generated themes on the student experience. A negative correlation was found between preference for online learning and performance, which is a reason for concern. The results offer useful pointers for instructional design of blended organic chemistry courses, but they also raise questions about equity and students’ metacognitive awareness in a virtual learning environment.



We acknowledge an allocation from a DHET Teaching Development Grant for a SOTL project.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marietjie Potgieter
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lynne A. Pilcher
    • 3
  • Rethabile R. Tekane
    • 3
  • Ina Louw
    • 2
  • Lizelle Fletcher
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ChemistryUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department for Education InnovationUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  3. 3.Department of ChemistryUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of StatisticsUniversity of PretoriaPretoriaSouth Africa

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