Research series p3: How Covid-19 has affected stress and study

This release forms the third part of our ongoing research series into education in a time of COVID-19.

How Covid-19 has affected stress and study
Cluey Learning Tuesday, 9 June 2020

If you think it was stressful teaching your seven year old subtraction from home while schools were closed, bear a thought for senior students preparing for major exams in isolation.

Over 90 per cent of Australian senior students agree that the recent disruption to normal schooling was stressful. In fact, more than one in four admit it was “one of the most stressful experiences of my life”. 

These findings form the third part of our research series, which details the impact of homeschooling in a time of COVID-19. The survey was completed by 404 Year 11 and 12 students, and 407 parents of senior students in April and May, 2020.  

Students revealed that they find COVID-19 more stressful than global and local politics, friendship pressures, family issues, body image and health concerns. Alongside this, almost 60 per cent of parent respondents have worried about their child’s mental health during the disruption.

Study habits have also been affected, with the majority of students admitting they are “studying less” as a result of COVID-19.  

“The class of 2020 are under enormous pressure, and it’s understandable that their study is being impacted,” says Cluey Chief Learning Officer, Dr Selina Samuels.

Senior students need more 1-to-1 support

It turns out that it’s not just younger students who are struggling with at-home learning. More than half of senior students said they find at-home learning “difficult” compared with learning at school. Almost 50 per cent said they were considering or planning to engage additional learning support such as online tutoring, in addition to the work their school was providing. The majority agreed this was because they needed more 1-to-1 support. 

“Most senior students love being online and find the tech easy, but I suspect students have struggled with the frequency and immediacy of teacher feedback,” says Dr Samuels. “Direct connection between a student and educator is key to effective learning, especially for Year 12 students.” 

Additional senior student insights: 

  • Over 50 per cent of parents say the disruptions to normal schooling have negatively impacted their child’s ability to study and learn 
  • More than one in three parents are convinced their child’s results will suffer because of this period
  • One in three parents said their child spent over four hours on learning/education per day at home
  • 28% said their child spent 3 – 4 hours
    • 18% ensured their child followed the schedule of a normal school day 
    • 16% said their child spent a couple of hours
    • 2% dedicated one hour to learning/education per day. 

Dr Samuels advises students to use this as a unique opportunity to build resilience by learning how to manage stress. “If students can adapt to these changing circumstances, explore ways to connect with their teachers via video or email and be resourceful enough to find the information they need online, they’ll find that not only do they have a brilliant story to tell during interviews, but that they’ll approach everything else in life with just a little more confidence.”

And now for some positive news

Our research revealed that over 60 per cent of parents have become more familiar with their child’s subjects or texts during this period. What’s more, over 50 per cent of students say that “being at home” is what they like most about online learning, followed closely by flexibility (34 per cent) and the fact that it is more focused (10 per cent). 

Looking for more?

Research findings from our primary parent research studies are available here:

Part 1: The real impact of home learning:  

Part 2: What at-home learning has taught Australians:

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