Title of Abstract

The Impact of COVID-19 and Learning Modalities on the College Experience

Submitting Student(s)

Ana Lydia Rodriguez

Session Title

SOURCE Awards Final Round

Faculty Sponsor (for work done with a non-Winthrop mentor)

Katie Knop, Ph.D.

College

College of Arts and Sciences

Department

Psychology

Abstract

On December 31st, 2019, the first outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) and it was declared a pandemic less than three months later. The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread lockdowns and closed over 1,300 colleges and universities across the United States. As a result, colleges began to utilize online platforms to continue classes in higher education. Previous research has demonstrated that COVID-19 has impacted the academic performance, social connections, and mental health of college students. Using a mixed-method design, I investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the college experience for undergraduate students at a small, 4-year university in the southeastern region of the United States. I specifically focused on three areas of college life: academics, social connections, and mental health. I conducted semi-structured interviews and an online survey in order to gather personal narratives and analyze widespread patterns. Survey participants were 140 college undergraduates, while interview participants were ten college students. I found that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students in various, complex ways. Survey data showed that 28% of students felt that their academic performance was worse than the previous year, while my interviews suggested that students felt isolated due to COVID-19 safety measures such as wearing masks and social distancing. The students I interviewed also expressed how the coronavirus influenced their mental health, and in turn their academics. This research contributes to higher education literature by exploring interconnected factors of college life in the context of a global pandemic and virtual learning.

Start Date

15-4-2022 12:00 PM

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Apr 15th, 12:00 PM

The Impact of COVID-19 and Learning Modalities on the College Experience

On December 31st, 2019, the first outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) and it was declared a pandemic less than three months later. The COVID-19 pandemic caused widespread lockdowns and closed over 1,300 colleges and universities across the United States. As a result, colleges began to utilize online platforms to continue classes in higher education. Previous research has demonstrated that COVID-19 has impacted the academic performance, social connections, and mental health of college students. Using a mixed-method design, I investigated how the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the college experience for undergraduate students at a small, 4-year university in the southeastern region of the United States. I specifically focused on three areas of college life: academics, social connections, and mental health. I conducted semi-structured interviews and an online survey in order to gather personal narratives and analyze widespread patterns. Survey participants were 140 college undergraduates, while interview participants were ten college students. I found that the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted students in various, complex ways. Survey data showed that 28% of students felt that their academic performance was worse than the previous year, while my interviews suggested that students felt isolated due to COVID-19 safety measures such as wearing masks and social distancing. The students I interviewed also expressed how the coronavirus influenced their mental health, and in turn their academics. This research contributes to higher education literature by exploring interconnected factors of college life in the context of a global pandemic and virtual learning.