Public administration education is traditionally known for its emphasis on interaction, discussion and experiential learning, which require effective in-person instructions. With COVID-19 pushing many programmes across the globe to be delivered online rather than in person, how this shift has affected the student experience in public administration programmes has been a pertinent and important consideration. This paper addresses the question through two surveys of 147 students in total, at a graduate-level public policy school in Singapore. Two distinctive waves of data collection allow us to capture a nuanced picture of student perceptions both when online teaching was introduced as an emergency response and when it was planned as a deliberate strategy later on. Our findings suggest that students consistently reported a decline in participation and interaction in an online setting, compared with a face-to-face setting. Our study fills a critical gap in the literature related to online public administration education in Asia, while the immediate constraints it highlights and lessons it offers on maintaining a highly interactive and engaging public administration education are likely to apply for educators elsewhere both during and beyond the COVID-19 era.
Bibliographical notehe authors would like to thank Ian Elliott, Monika Knassmüller and Peter Marks, co-chairs of the Permanent Study Group IX on Teaching Public Administration at the European Group for Public Administration (EGPA), for their helpful and generous feedback to earlier versions of the paper and for awarding it a best paper award at the EGPA Annual Conference in 2021.
- higher education
- online education
- student perception
- public administration education