Results of the survey for students

Survey about effects of the Covid-19 pandemic

The Faculty of Sustainability at Leuphana would like to raise awareness of the challenges that the Covid 19 pandemic poses to our students and all other members of the faculty. This is part of the Faculty Sustainability's 2020-2022 position paper on gender and diversity. 

The first round of the survey ran from July 2020 to September 2020, and all Faculty of Sustainability students were invited to participate. The response rate was 41 responses. All quotes are from participants in the survey.

All suggestions and requests for how we as a faculty can support students during the pandemic have been documented and will help us to improve our support.

Results of the survey

The following is a summary of the results for the first run of the survey sorted by different categories. Quotes from the survey complement the results and provide a more detailed insight. You can also find a summary of the results for download here.

  • 1. Challenges
  • 2. Effects
  • 3. Strategies
  • 4. Support from the university
  • 5. Suggestions and wishes for the university

1. Challenges

Due to Covid-19, the students experience various challenges both in university context and privately:

Challenges studying:

  • Difficult to find a suitable study place (room too small, no private room available)
  • Very high screentime
  • Lack of interaction with other students and lecturers
  • Technical challenges (bad internet connection, non-compatible devices)

I find self-organization, motivation and estimation of workload more difficult without the direct contacts. Also, the workload seems to be higher this semester. I was more stressed throughout. Because I work at home, I often have the feeling that I can or have to work even more.

Translated from German

Challenges private:

  • By far the most mentioned: Loneliness and very reduced social contacts
  • Financial difficulties and job loss
  • Caring duties for family members which needs time and energy
  • No separation between working/studying and leisure time
  • General uncertainty and worrying about others and the development of the pandemic

Psychologically, I feel worse than usual. It's similar for many friends and people I know. I think that's especially because you have less contact with other people. Studying is also something very social for me, meeting on campus means a lot to me.

Translated from German

2. Effects

Resulting from the situation and the challenges mentioned above, students reported the following effects the pandemic has on them:

Effects on studying and career:

  • Concentration and motivation for lectures, seminars and studying in general is a lot lower
  • Higher workload than before and at the same time less time for studying
  • The quality of own exams and studying work seems to decrease and many also expect this to be reflected in their grades
  • Positive effects: opportunity to attend other modules, working at own pace helps
  • Possible delays of future studies and worse job perspectives for the near future

At the beginning, I was a lot less productive, but this changed somewhat after a period of getting used to the workstation at home, for example. The last few semesters I have worked and studied almost exclusively in the library. Also, discussions come up more difficult in Zoom sessions. I think that's a real shame, especially since I'm now also in my sixth semester. Personally, I can simply take away much more through face-to-face classes. Even the most interesting seminars are not as much fun as in other semesters.

Translated from German

The pressure to finish my studies within the period of my financial support has increased. As a result, I had to set other priorities, but this has opened up a window of time this summer for writing the first draft of the PhD exposé - it pays to become/be pragmatic and flexible.

Translated from German

Effects private:

  • Activities generally consume more energy and time
  • Effects on mental health seem to be quite severe: many reported high pressure, stress and anxiety, some also depression
  • Physical health affected as well (esp. headache, muscle tensions, worse eyesight)
  • Some reported no negative effects or positively mentioned new perspectives and ideas

3. Strategies

In order to deal with these effects, different strategies were mentioned:

Strategies studying:

  • Lowering expectations of their own performance and accept worse results
  • Group learning and communication with others
  • Creation of suitable study places (leaving own flat)

I try to be as patient as possible with myself and not force myself to be productive when I cannot really focus. I give myself permission to do nothing more often and not feel bad about it. I try to trust that there will always be short periods when I can then be productive and move forward.
It also helps me to sit in a room with my roommates and work side by side. Apart from that, I'm thinking about going back home to southern Germany more often in the coming semester to get a regular change of scenery. 

Translated from German

Strategies private:

  • Trying to rely on friends and family and stay in contact
  • Doing sports and physical activity and spending time outdoors
  • Active time management (screen-free time, fixes end of work day)
  • Using professional help (psychological support)
  • Active reflection of pandemic and situation (diary, talking to others, academic approach)
  • Meditation

I try to find a balance, to go into nature, to do yoga, to meditate. As far as the regulations of the country allow, I try not to neglect my social contacts. However, regular therapy visits and a sick leave for a few weeks were unavoidable.

Translated from German

4. Support from the university

Based on the situation between March and July/August 2020 (depending on when the survey was submitted), students experienced the following support from Leuphana University and the Faculty of Sustainability:

  • (Relatively) quick switch to online education
  • Sometimes positively mentioned: learning materials (e.g. videos) and online formats
  • Helpful staff if problems occurred (library, administration, etc.)
  • Communication and updates via e-mails (sometimes late)
  • After it re-opened: Working spaces, library, printer (but also criticised because it was closed so long)
  • Some also said that they don’t get any support at all

5. Suggestions and wishes for the university

Referring to July/August/September 2020 (depending on when the survey was submitted), students had the following suggestions and wishes for further support by the university and faculty:

University level:

  • Wish for face-to-face lectures and seminars, as soon as they are allowed
  • Change of the standard period of study (SoSe 2020 should not count)
  • Better communication and updates (less short term)
  • Support services for administrative questions, psychological support, consultation for soft skills (time management, stress resilience etc.)
  • Other: later starting date of semester, change in tuition fees)

Faculty and module level:

  • General wish for better understanding and feeling for situation and struggles of students
  • Flexibility of teachers, e.g. possible change of exam dates, taking feedback into account
  • Reduction of workload
  • Specific suggestions online education: videos instead of Zoom for own time management, moodle courses, no 8h-weekend-modules
  • Rules/norms for online education for all faculty modules (e.g. no obligation to turn camera on)

I would have liked to see a better adaptation of the teaching formats to the current situation. For example, some of the block courses should have been split up, as it is much more difficult to concentrate on the screen for several hours. More flexibility and consultation would have been nice.

Translated from German

I was lucky, but I have heard from some friends that their workload has increased [...]. There is still a difference between available time and workload here. Just because we are suddenly not sitting in university and have less official events (sports, engagement, ...) doesn't mean that we now have more time for every module. Continuous work on the computer is exhausting and not possible without breaks. In addition, the lack of a working environment and fixed structure is also a problem for many students.

Translated from German

Contact

If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to contact us at the following address: diversitaet.nachhaltigkeit@leuphana.de

Contact persons

  • Dr. Fabienne Gralla
  • Prof. Dr. Berta Martín-López

Neele Bünning (student representative)
Antonia Michel (student representative)