Disruption as a catalyst for change? Effects of COVID-19 on the perceptions and approaches of teaching academics


The ways in which teaching academics perceive and experience the environment in which they work influences the ways in which they approach their teaching and curriculum design, which in turn can affect students’ experiences and eventual learning outcomes.

The relationships between these factors are well-documented, but they are also dynamic, fluid and subject to change. The ongoing disruption owing to the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed the academic environment within higher education and necessitated the adoption by teaching academics of new and often unfamiliar practices.

For teachers involved in curriculum change projects, these demands are compounded by the existing obligations to innovate. It is critically important that we better understand the experiences and responses of teaching academics during this time of intense upheaval, to help inform possible directions in teaching, curriculum design and innovative practices in a post-COVID sector.


We seek to determine how the perceptions and approaches of teaching academics involved in curriculum change projects have responded during the COVID-19 disruption. Using the relational 3P model as a guiding framework, we examine academics’ teaching context, their perceptions of this context and any resulting changes in their approaches to teaching, learning and curriculum.


  • Dr Elisa Bone, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr Sarah French, The University of Melbourne
  • Dr Chris Deneen, The University of Melbourne
  • Associate Professor Mike Prosser, The University of Melbourne


Higher Education Research and Development Society of Australasia (HERDSA)


Bone, E., French, S., Deneen, C. and Prosser, M. (2021). Disruption as a catalyst for change? The impact of COVID-19 on the perceptions and approaches of teaching academics. Society of Research into Higher Education conference 2021: (Re)connecting, (Re) building: Higher Education in Transformative Times. December 6-10, 2021. DOI: 10.26188/17132411

Further results of this project will be communicated through conference presentations and publications.

More information

Dr Elisa Bone, Melbourne CSHE, The University of Melbourne