‘It is a necessary evil’: Notts students react to new Covid-19 teaching measures

‘Many students would lack the motivation to work longer days and attend lectures on weekends’

As Nottingham announced new measures for socially distanced teaching in September, it looks as though many students will find themselves having either longer days or weeks and shorter holidays.

With the 2020/2021 teaching period over, students are looking ahead to September. We spoke to Notts students to see how they are feeling about recently announced measures:

“Many students already struggle with the strenuous workload they are given.”

Ethan, a first year geography student, believes that whilst longer teaching days has the potential to benefit students learning “many students would lack the motivation to work longer days and attend lectures on weekends.”

He feels that it is important to understand that part of the university experience is also having a social life, and these new measures may take this away from some students and could, therefore, discourage them from completing their studies.

Campus life will be very different next year, with more teaching weeks in part made way for by cancelling the January exam period. Ethan thinks that this plan, to remove the exam period, could be beneficial. He believes that this examination system is “less stressful and students will find them easier to complete.”

“Exams are a very good tool to gauge your level and ability as the year progresses.”

Peter, who studies PPE, is more pessimistic about the removal of the January exam period. “I feel that exams, whilst being rather painful, are a very good tool to gauge your level and ability as the year progresses,” he says, though he understands that the coursework will have the added benefit of alleviating the pressure and stress students experience amid the current pandemic.

He also points “university will most likely not be the last time many of us take exams so overall I would think it makes sense to keep a balanced ratio of coursework to exams.”

“Longer teaching weeks are a necessary evil.”

Though the new teaching period may take a bit of getting used to, Criminology student Jess is adamant that the longer teaching weeks are a “necessary evil”.

She says they will ensure that students will get the required amount of contact hours to ensure “our learning experience remains at a high quality.” She thinks that whilst the longer days and terms may cause some additional stress it will “ensure that the stress over not enough teaching is minimised.”

“I’m incredibly appreciative of the efforts the university has made to get us back on campus.”

Kate*, a Politics and French student, is appreciative of the universities efforts to get students back on campus and she welcomes the return of face to face teaching. “Online teaching, in my opinion, is far less effective and my work ethic certainly seems to have faltered during the lockdown,” she says.

Whilst some may feel that longer days might add additional stress to their already hectic work schedule, Kate is more optimistic:

“If teaching days need to be longer then so be it; it seems logical for our learning environment to change during a pandemic.

“I feel very fortunate to be going back to university for the first term, unlike other universities.

“If I wanted a virtual education, I would have chosen to go to the Open University for a third of the price.”

“The university has to make the best of a bad situation which has hit the whole country badly and turned so many lives upside down.”

When it comes to extending the teaching days, Izzy, who studies French, reflected upon the ways of which both staff and students will be affected. She says the university will have to be sensitive to the fact that “many staff and students may have childcare commitments, employment or other responsibilities in the evening” which may produce more stress.

As Izzy studies in the evenings, she doesn’t feel that the longer days will affect her as much as others. However, she notes that “taking away weekends that are usually reserved for visiting family at home or taking a break from studying may have a greater impact on our mental wellbeing.”

Yet, Izzy thinks the longer semesters could be a positive for her degree: “I think for my course it would benefit me as you need to accumulate a language and your knowledge of the culture over time.”

While there seems to have been a mixture of reactions from students, most generally accept that the extended teaching periods would benefit their learning. Meanwhile UoN is continuing to provide students with weekly updates on the current situation.

*Name changed to preserve the anonymity of the student