Spring of 2020 marks the season that changed the lives of students forever. COVID-19 spread rapidly through the nation and affected schools, businesses and the homes of people all over the country. Mainstream news sources, like The New York Times, have created full sections of coverage that focuses on how the pandemic has changed everybody as a whole, but there has been less coverage on how the national shutdown affected the work ethic and motivation of students specifically.
The college-age generation has been considerably affected by the pandemic, especially when considering the transition from in-person classes to online learning. According to the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights’ 2021 report, “Education in a Pandemic: The Disparate Impacts of COVID-19 on America’s Students,” “COVID-19 has raised new barriers for many postsecondary students, with heightened impacts emerging for students of color, students with disabilities, and students who are caregivers, both for entry into higher education and for continuing and completing their studies.”
The adaptations of Zoom and digital test-taking created a lack of integrity, stimulation and attentiveness in class. Without guidance in the classroom or a proctor for exams, the whole education system became altered.
Curious as to whether or not this statement rings true, I asked Point Loma Nazarene University students about their experience shifting from in-person school to strictly online learning, and whether or not this changed their personal work ethic.
Tayler Muchmore is a second-year health and human performance major who plays golf for the PLNU women’s golf team. Muchmore said her general enthusiasm for school and sports has changed as a result of COVID-19.
“I have way less motivation. 100% less. I think that during the pandemic, during online classes for almost a year and a half, there was less of a due date for assignments and it was a lot easier to just not do your homework. I also think teachers were a lot more lenient,” Muchmore said.
In addition to the general lack of motivation for some students, there was also a clear lack of resources. The school was a safe place for them. It was also a place with free Wi-Fi, which became an issue in 2020 because many public places with free Wi-Fi shut down. Integrity became a huge issue when it came to test-taking.
Matt James, a third-year communication major, conveyed his feelings about the differences made since COVID-19, “Overall, having to deal with doing school online definitely allowed me to have answers more easily provided, which meant I was able to use the internet a lot more.” James goes on. “And to admit, I would research some answers for my classes and it made me work a lot less because I felt like I didn’t need to. The answers were right in front of me and I didn’t need to pay as much attention in class. It felt like everything was kind of handed to me at that point.”
Professor Schuyler Eastin, a literature professor here on campus, shared that his grading and teaching styles have adapted to the COVID-19 circumstances.
“I hadn’t done distance learning online like that before. The technological aspects were easier to get used to, and the challenge was finding new ways to engage students. You don’t have the same tools that you normally have, either sitting in the room and being able to make a gesture or call on somebody the same way you would. One of the biggest challenges is not being able to look each other in the eye and maintain a conversation.”
Additionally, Professor Eastin describes the changes that were made to grading systems, and how the faculty were able to juggle such a complicated task.
“Among faculty, there have been a lot of discussions during the pandemic about adjusting those grading practices. A lot of it has tended towards being more gracious, and I think more responsive and forced us to be more aware of every student’s situation and factor that into the way we extended grace,” said Eastin.
Eastin pinpointed the largest reason for a loss of motivation in students – a loss of community and friendship. COVID-19 affected all of us differently, but as students, we mutually felt starved of socialization. This in turn, led to a deprivation of motivation.
Estefani Barajas, a sophomore political-science major, shares her feelings about the transition from online learning to in person classes now.
“I feel it was hard at the beginning, because we didn’t get to learn a lot, and then when we switched into in-person learning, we had to learn everything again. On the brighter side, it has been good because we’ve gotten to reconnect with everyone again,” said Barajas.
Written By: Shelby York