Perceptions of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on academics’ teaching, and research key performance areas (KPAs)


  • Upasana Singh University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Cecile Gerwel-Proches University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • Rosemary Diane Quilling University of KwaZulu-Natal



Key Performance Areas (KPA), Teaching, Research, Performance Management


The COVID-19 pandemic forced education systems and institutions to rethink how they operate. A new normal is emerging, where Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are reshaping how they teach, assess and interact. This exploratory research highlights the need for institutions to embrace the tenets of University 4.0 while raising a number of issues related to how academics’ performance is measured, and thus consider if performance management systems are able to adapt in tandem. This paper presents the results of a study that set out to investigate perceptions of academics in a public higher educational institution in South Africa on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their teaching and research key performance areas (KPAs) used in their institution, as these are used to monitor and manage academics. This study adopted a qualitative research approach with purposeful sampling so that a range of views from academics and leadership at this institution were included. The results suggest that where implemented, performance management needs to be realigned to the new approaches to teaching and research adopted by academics since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Author Biographies

Upasana Singh, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Upasana Singh, an Academic Leader and Senior Lecturer at the University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa Westville campus), possesses extensive qualifications in Information Systems and Technology. With over 15 years of teaching experience, she specializes in IT-related subjects such as e-Commerce, IT Consulting, IT Strategy, Programming, and Research Methodology. Her research interests focus on Educational Technologies, and she has led numerous international projects on Digital Teaching, Learning, and Assessment. Dr Singh's research profile includes four edited books, 24 journal papers, 12 book chapters, and 26 peer-reviewed conference papers. She has served as a keynote speaker at over 25 international conferences and chairs the International Conference on Digital Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (digiTAL2K). Committed to advancing teaching practices, she completed a Fellowship in ‘Teaching Advancement in Universities’ (TAU) in 2019 and has supported over 1500 academics in adopting digital teaching methods. During the pandemic, Dr Singh developed three conceptual models related to the transition to online learning for academics, students, and females. She secured research grants, including a substantial one from the National Research Foundation, focusing on Digital Capital at South African Higher Education Institutions. Her recent publications contribute to the scholarship on Digital Teaching, Learning, and Assessment, addressing online teaching, quality assurance, and the future of digital teaching. Nominated for various awards, she represents UKZN at the National University Teaching Awards in 2024. 

Cecile Gerwel-Proches, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Cecile Gerwel Proches is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Business and Leadership (GSB&L) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN) in Durban, South Africa. Her teaching, research, supervisory and consulting interests include leadership, organisational behaviour and change management. She has successfully supervised several MBA and Leadership Master’s students, and doctoral students. Cecile has served on various university committees, including the Teaching and Research Committee. She has presented at various national and international conferences, and has published several papers in academic journals, as well as popular articles. Cecile served as Programme Coordinator of the Postgraduate Diploma in Leadership (and formerly Leadership and Management) in the GSB&L for close to 10 years. Cecile is an experienced facilitator, who draws on experiential learning approaches and other interactive learning methods in her teaching, as well as in facilitating leadership development workshops.  

Rosemary Diane Quilling, University of KwaZulu-Natal

Rosemary Diane Quilling is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems & Technology (IS&T) at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), South Africa (Westville campus). She has a keen interest in the use of social and emerging technologies in teaching and learning in Higher Education and has over 25 years’ experience in HE. She is a recipient of the UKZN Distinguished Teacher award and the South African CHE/HELTASA National Excellence in Teaching & Learning award. Rose enjoys working in the ‘in-between spaces’; joining like-minded individuals in interdisciplinary and collaborative projects. Her PhD was on the use of social computing by HE teachers in their teaching. This research focused on a systemic perspective of teacher agency when engaging in elearning innovation; a departure from the largely student-/ learning-focused research in HE at the time. She believes in the ability of education and technology to lead societal change and is an advisory member of the Tech Society UKZN with a special interest in empowering women in technology. In this role she served as the Southern African Co-chair for the ACM-W Celebration of Women in Computing (CWIC) inaugural event in Africa (May 2022) 


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How to Cite

Singh, U., Gerwel-Proches, C., & Quilling, R. D. (2024). Perceptions of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on academics’ teaching, and research key performance areas (KPAs). The Independent Journal of Teaching and Learning, 19(1), 33–49.

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