In October 2020, Student Union POKA and Karelia University of Applied Sciences implemented the “How are you and your studies this Autumn?” survey for Karelia UAS students. This survey is a part of Karelia UAS recovery plan for the students' recovery from the coronavirus crisis. 263 students answered the survey. There were answers from all study programmes of Karelia UAS. Answers were received from students of all year classes.
51% of respondents feel the transition to a hybrid model has gone well or excellently. 24% of respondents believe that the transition has gone poorly or very poorly.
Many students wish for remote studies alongside or instead of contact studies. Livestreaming lessons would allow students to also participate remotely. In the opinion of students, some study sets (e.g., mass lectures) are unnecessarily present, thus increasing the risk of spreading the coronavirus. According to the respondents, the possibility to participate remotely would minimise the risk of getting sick or falling behind in studies when staying home for having symptoms. Those at risk also raised concerns about attending contact studies and falling behind in studies if there is no remote implementation.
The alternation of remote and contact studies within the schedule was perceived as difficult. It is difficult for students to change between distance and contact studies, especially if only 15 minutes are given for transitions from remote studies to campus. The information on whether the next class is a hybrid, remote or a contact lesson might also come last-second. The schedule for completing assignments is also perceived as unnecessarily tight.
The majority, or 60% of respondents, have not experienced a change in the quality of teaching. 31% of respondents feel that the quality of teaching has become weaker or much weaker. The quality of teaching feels it has become better or much better in 9% of respondents.
Some feel a decrease in the quality of teaching or guidance, or otherwise need (more) contact studies. In part, distance learning has made teaching more monotonous and teaching has been replaced by a greater number of assignments. Some of the students would need more direct theory instruction from the teacher. Negative issues that were mentioned were the lack of guidance and the obscurity of the instructions.
Some feel that interaction during distant learning hasn’t been made possible or it is lacking. Students experience more of a threshold to ask questions remotely than face-to-face. Teachers are also perceived as distant. Students also miss interactions with other students.
53% of respondents feel that social relationships have continued fairly normally or the transition to a hybrid model has had no effect on social relationships. 27% feel that some of the relationships are on hiatus, and communication with some continues normally. 17% of respondents feel that social relationships are largely or completely on a break.
The majority of respondents to open questions feel covid-19 or the transition to a hybrid model had a negative impact on social relationships. Contact with class members and the sense of community on campuses have reduced or ended completely. Some feel the lack of social relationships affect their mental resilience or motivation directly.
49% of respondents feel their study motivation is good or very good. 46% feel their study motivation is poor or very poor.
The biggest factor raised by respondents to open questions about issues negatively affecting study motivation is studying alone and the high number of assignments. Some describe studying to be really hard at the moment and that they’re falling behind in their studies. Some find it difficult to focus on studying through a computer alone. Monotonous tasks are perceived as less motivational than lectures involving discussion and interaction. Starting assignments independently may be experienced as challenging. The guidance given is also perceived to play a large role in motivation. Students describe their experiences with words such as: “feeling alone with their studies” or “everything is left on their own shoulders”.
50% of respondents feel their mental resilience is poor or very poor. 45% feel their mental resilience is good or very good.
The biggest factor that respondents feel most negatively affects their mental performance is the study load. There are a lot of assignments and the cancellations in spring may have brought extra pressure regarding the autumn’s studies. The further the studies progress, the more study load there is. Guidance and communication with the teacher is perceived to have a large role in coping with assignments. Jobs, family and the general crisis situation burdens respondents. Distance learning has affected everyday routines, and the amount of sleep and food rhythm may have suffered.
Loneliness, fear, stress and anxiety caused by covid-19 are felt to affect the respondents’ mental resilience negatively. The covid-19 situation is feared to worsen and fear prevents visiting hobbies or meeting mates. Going to campus causes anxiety and fear. Focusing on studies is disturbed by focusing on safety distances and hygiene. It is hoped teachers will set an example in the use of masks. Stress is felt over studies and covid-19. Fear over falling behind in studies if you get sick due to covid-19 or seasonal flu adds to the stress.
Students need support in the form of free-time activities (70 responses), study counselling (51 responses), student welfare officer (48 responses), peer support groups (48 responses), study groups (48 responses), study workshops (48 responses), student health care (41 responses) and from tutor teachers (35 replies). The respondent was able to choose more than one answer. 88 respondents did not feel they needed support.
68% of respondents feel they don’t have unfinished studies from last spring or early autumn. 13% of respondents report that they have unfinished studies but they are not interested in study circles or workshops. 15% of respondents are interested in study circles and/or workshops.
Positive feedback was also given regarding the flexible transition to the hybrid model and teaching this autumn. Some also felt their own motivation and mental resilience was good or better than in spring. Karelia UAS teachers received praise for good distance lectures (e.g. Collaborate) and for adjusting studies to distance studies. Recordings were perceived as a good form of studying. Approaching graduation, good ISP’s, advancing in studies, the possibility to travel back home more frequently due to distance learning or the hybrid model, freedom to study at one's preferred time, and positive attitude were perceived as enhancing the motivation towards studying. Coping has been perceived to have improved since spring due to some acceptance in relation to the crisis situation, and because social contacts have increased.