FIVE YEARS OF MID-SEMESTER SURVEY DATA FROM TWO INTRODUCTORY GEOSCIENCE COURSES: WHAT THEY REVEAL ABOUT THE ACADEMIC AND PERSONAL LIVES OF COLLEGE STUDENTS BEFORE AND DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
In the online surveys, submitted a few days after the first exam in each course, students self-reported how they engaged (or not) in a wide range of academic activities such as textbook purchases, access and use of study materials, timing of concentrated study, and contact with the instructor. They also identified problems such as fatigue, lack of sleep, emotional distress, test anxiety, and competing demands on their time from other courses and extracurricular work. Most of the problems students self-reported predate the pandemic, but some show significant and alarming trends during the study period (e.g., an increase from 25% to 59% in self-reported emotional distress in one of the courses). It is not clear from the data how much the pandemic exacerbated problems already present on college campuses, but instructors will face mounting challenges to address them in the future. However, merely diagnosing these problems without offering students hope and support is not sufficient. In an effort to help my students develop better study habits and get them the help they need, I provide detailed feedback to their survey responses, participate in UK’s Academic Alert system, and personally reach out to students when possible.