Sink or swim: Exploring resilience of academics at an education faculty during Covid-19

Keywords: resilience, academics, higher education, COVID-19, teaching and learning


There is a proliferation of local and international research focusing on COVID-19 and its impact on the practices of teaching and learning in higher education. However, a dearth of research exists that focuses on the resilience of academics in higher education during COVID-19 in South Africa. Considering this gap, a group of curriculum officers at an Education faculty based at a university of technology in the Western Cape set out to explore how resilient academics were during COVID-19. Thirteen academics who teach in and across the Foundation Phase, Intermediate Phase and Further Education and Training phase participated in a focus group interview. Data was analysed thematically using content analysis whereby three themes were identified: creativity through complexity, embracing challenge through resilience and connecting with self. The implications reveal that universities as a contextual environment for promoting resilience need to engage with the social and physical ecology of staff by providing support and resources to be resilient during times of crises. The dominant nature of the hierarchical dynamics of university’s management also needs to be considered as part of a social ecological perspective in valuing academics’ wellbeing during times of crises.

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