What's the biggest distraction for students

Surveys on online teaching in times of corona : "Another semester of this kind gives me great fear"

“I cannot understand at all that the WiSe should also be digital. For me this is a catastrophe and it makes me really unhappy. ”With this emotional statement for a nationwide online survey by the University of Hildesheim on the digital semester, the respondent should speak at least 36.6 percent of fellow students from the soul.

They find “the idea of ​​studying digitally for another semester” very bad; another 22.9 percent find it bad. Overall, almost 60 percent express a negative attitude towards exclusively online teaching. Only 22.3 percent like the prospect of a new digital semester good or very good.

82.3 percent see the greatest disadvantage of online teaching as the lack of direct contact with others - be it fellow students or teachers. Followed by “more independent learning” (47.7 percent) and “poorer compatibility of family responsibilities and studies” (29.2 percent).

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However, many also see the need to learn independently, which puts so many students under pressure, as the greatest advantage of the digital semester: For 62.8 percent it is "more flexibility in the way they work". 56 percent are happy that they do not have to travel to the place of study for distance learning.

The enjoyment of modern learning technologies also makes it into the top 3 of the advantages with 21.2 percent approval.

First comprehensive analysis of the corona semester

For the survey "Studying digitally in times of Corona" (Stu.diCo.), Online questionnaires and free text answers from 2350 students who were on average in their fourth semester at the university were evaluated in the course of July - i.e. at the end of the summer semester (For the full results paper, click here).

With a 40-page result paper on Stu.di.Co. The team at the Institute for Social and Organizational Education at the University of Hildesheim around Severine Thomas and Anna Traus is now presenting a first comprehensive analysis of the study experience in the corona semester. It is not only about the organization of the studies, but also about the living situation of the students.

There are many indications that “it is not easy for students to concentrate on one center of life that is both a place of learning and a place to live,” it says.

For many, that meant living and learning again in the “Hotel Mama”. 39 percent of those surveyed said they lived with their families; According to the social survey by the German Student Union, it is only 20 percent in normal times. 18.8 percent shared an apartment with a partner, 15.7 percent lived in a flat share, 12.6 percent lived alone in an apartment and 3.4 percent in a dormitory.

What they lacked were, above all, things that a university naturally offers in normal operation: What was very much missed - in the order of most mentions - corridor or campus discussions with fellow students, campus life (e.g. eating together in the cafeteria) , Space to learn outside of your own four walls and exchange and advice in direct contact with the teachers.

[The universities promise one from autumn "Hybrid semester "- but how realistic is that? Read our report: Presence remains the exception]

But the study itself has also suffered. 44.5 percent of those surveyed attended fewer courses than in the previous semester. A good 40 percent stated that their workload was higher in the digital semester, almost 39 percent had “more distraction factors” and a further third missed the courses they wanted. Technical problems were only decisive for just under 14 percent.

However, 36.6 percent also stated that they had attended as many courses as before, with 15.6 percent even more. The latter attributed this primarily to the fact that they can integrate digital lectures and seminars more flexibly into their everyday lives (50 percent) or that they had no travel time to the university (47.3 percent).

Another reason to study more intensively, which at least a quarter mentions: The elimination of other appointments and obligations such as honorary positions, training, parties - or jobs.

Job loss is the main reason for lack of money

The loss of student part-time jobs as a negative side effect of the corona crisis has been discussed a lot in recent months. The Stu.di.Co. team also asked in-depth questions about this. The main sources of income are support from parents (65.3 percent), part-time jobs (52.6 percent), student loans (21.8 percent) and child benefit (25.7 percent).

37 percent state that they have to get by with less money than before Corona, the main reason for this being the loss of jobs (57.5 percent). Almost 28 percent get less money from their parents. However, more than half of the students have the same amount of money, while eleven percent have even more - mainly because they spend less on travel expenses and leisure activities, for example.

The mostly negative view of the students on the digital semester is differentiated by a recently completed survey by the Stifterverband, for which 11,000 students and 2000 lecturers nationwide were surveyed from mid-July to mid-August.

According to initial results, which Tagesspiegel found out in advance, 61 percent of the lecturers and 55 percent of the students rate online lectures as good or better than those given in person. The digital seminars and tutorials of the Corona semester were viewed much more critically - only 40 percent see them as being equivalent to face-to-face offers.

According to this, the more people involved and the less interactive it is, the better an online course will be rated, says Mathias Winde, head of the science field of action at the Stifterverband.

Turn on the camera, read the script aloud or speak freely - there is obviously no big difference to the classic lecture in the lecture hall. Especially since with asynchronous formats it is possible to call up the professor's lecture flexibly in terms of time and to watch it several times if necessary.

The smaller courses, on the other hand, “are more didactically demanding and were not yet provided with innovative formats on an ad hoc basis,” says Winde.

Further reports on the corona situation at universities

But the biggest challenge for the students in the digital summer semester was - as in the survey by the University of Hildesheim - the "lack of social life": The vast majority of those surveyed by the Stifterverband complained that the togetherness on campus has ceased - from coffee in the cafeteria university sports through to involvement in student groups.

Another statement from the Hildesheim survey gave rise to major concerns about another digital semester. The student explains that “I am so afraid of another semester of this kind, because for me the university was a source of self-confidence, validity and simply happiness and joy, which has now been transformed into effort and perseverance through self-discipline . "

Universities should create spaces for social life

The team of researchers from Hildesheim makes a number of recommendations that should literally make life easier for the students again. If a new digital semester starts from October (at the universities of applied sciences) or from November (at the universities), the universities should ensure that students can work digitally and exchange ideas just as well as they do analog. They should be supported in creating digital group rooms and involved in the development of digital teaching offers.

The universities are also responsible for creating “spaces for social life” and expanding their digital advisory services. Long-term financial aid is also necessary - beyond the temporary bridging aid - universities can offer social funds or special grants. In particular, students who do not have social networks would have to be supported financially and in planning their studies.

For all those who could not fully study in the digital semester, there was a lack of uniform regulations on how they can catch up on academic achievements without, for example, being disadvantaged again when it comes to student loans, it is said. After all, 47.5 percent of those surveyed stated that they would consider extending their studies.

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