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Benefits, barriers, and incentives for improved resilience to disruption in university teaching
journal contributionposted on 21.02.2021, 22:43 by J Dohaney, Mairead de RoisteMairead de Roiste, Rhian SalmonRhian Salmon, Kathryn SutherlandKathryn Sutherland
© 2020 The Authors Pandemics, earthquakes, fire, war, and other disasters place universities at risk. Disasters can disrupt learning and teaching (L&T) for weeks to months or longer. Some institutions have developed business continuity plans to protect key organisational services and structures, allowing L&T to continue. However, little research touches on how academics, learners, and communities of practice might respond before, during, and after disasters and how their resilience to disruption can be fostered to reduce impacts on L&T. In this research, we investigated academics’ perceptions of building resilience to major L&T disruptions in the New Zealand context. Specifically, we explored how academics characterise a resilient academic and institution, and identified the benefits, barriers, and incentives to building resilience. We used a pragmatic theoretical approach with a mixed methods methodology, to categorise the results within three distinct levels (individual, school/department, and institution), supporting the design and implementation of resilience-building strategies for academics and institutional leaders. We found that support, community, leadership, and planning at universities are critical in building and inhibiting resilience. Participants reported several ‘high impact’ incentives, addressing multiple barriers, that could be used to kick-start resilience. Online and flexible learning are key opportunities for resilience-building, but universities should not underestimate the importance of face-to-face interactions between staff and learners. Our results provide a strong starting point for practitioners and researchers aiming to understand how universities can foster resilience to major disruptions and disasters on university teaching.