In a year in which the COVID pandemic has forced school closures and education disruptions worldwide, New Zealand students and parents are reinforcing the importance of face-to-face contact when it comes to learning in the classroom and for positive mental health.
In a recent Cambridge International survey of students and parents, more than half of respondents (53%) said long-term online or virtual learning, in addition to face-to-face learning, does have its advantages. Only 8% said it made no difference and 31% said there were no advantages. When asked what areas of the curriculum they would value online, 43% said lessons and 69% said tutorials, with the most enjoyable aspects of the curriculum being coursework (39%) and classwork (32%).
Roger Franklin-Smith, senior country manager for Cambridge Assessment International Education, said, “What came through clearly in the survey was that students preferred the delivery of lessons to happen in the classroom, whereas supporting activities like tutorials could be done online. Students enjoy the face-to-face interaction and collaboration with their peers and teachers, and it is important for overall mental health.
“We are yet to see the full impact of the pandemic on student mental health, but early indications suggest the impact will be significant. The Ministry of Education has recently allocated $14.9 million from a $50 million fund to help students struggling with the impacts of the pandemic and Cambridge International has received lots of requests to support student wellbeing.”
In response, Cambridge International recently hosted a webinar to support students with their mental health and wellbeing during this period of uncertainty. The webinar explored the impact that students are currently experiencing; particularly loss and uncertainty, as well as identifying the positives they are facing.
The survey results also highlighted the importance of having a broad range of subjects in the curriculum for students to choose from. Almost 90% said that having a broad range of subjects to choose from was important, and respondents identified their favourite subjects as mathematics, biology and physics.
The survey was carried out by Cambridge International between August and October 2020 and involved of 95 students: the majority of which were Cambridge International students, but also some studying NCEA. A total of 89 parents and caregivers were also included in the survey.