This is not (the New) Normal. Students' Attitudes Towards Studying During the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Determinants of Academic Overload
Keywords:online learning, COVID-19, teaching methods, assessment, student attitudes
The measures taken to combat the pandemic COVID -19 suddenly changed the way of studying in many countries around the world. Because of the abrupt change, faculties did not have time to develop strategies for implementing online study, so faculty were busy finding new ways to teach their courses. As it turned out, many of them were not prepared for such a change. They lacked the technical understanding of how to use online tools and platforms, as well as the pedagogical knowledge of the dynamics of online teaching. In this paper we discuss how students from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia, experienced the changes in the way they study. We conducted an anonymous online survey among 1,827 students from the largest faculty at the University of Ljubljana. The survey took place in February and March 2021. The results show that there were differences between students in their assessment of the appropriateness of different teaching approaches regarding various factors, which highlights the conditions students had at home to study. The conditions at home affected students' attitudes towards distance learning, their assessment of competence for distance learning, as well as their motivation to study and their sense of being overwhelmed. Thus, more study difficulties, negative attitudes and motivation problems were observed among students who were not provided with adequate study conditions. Nevertheless, the results of the study show that distance learning also has potential, but this potential can only be realised if all those involved in the process are provided with the right conditions. We conclude the study with four main recommendations, namely that the quality of distance learning requires (1) adequate conditions for students to participate in distance learning; (2) an appropriate choice of teaching methods is important; (3) teachers need to be didactically trained for distance learning; and (4) during distance learning, cooperation between the teacher and the students and between the students themselves should be encouraged.
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