(Re)Discovering Universities as a Social Venue – Effect of COVID-altered social interactions on academic performance

“University is the best period of your life.” A sentence we have heard from adults way too many times. Perhaps they want us to enjoy our student lives. What they couldn’t see coming, however, was a pandemic that forced us to reimagine education, and stripped us of one of the most important aspects of the best chapter of our lives: Social interaction.
While shareholders of Zoom became millionaires overnight, students had to adjust to change. Face-to-face communication disappeared. Talking to our computer screens became our new norm. Some might say that this transfer from offline education to online education was successful, and many others might disagree. What we all agree upon, however, is that computer screens could never replace physical interactions with our peers and tutors. Students who spent the night at Complex and asked their tutors to explain when to apply the Bonferroni correction the next day are now forced to communicate with each other from their bedrooms.
But did this physical distance have an effect on our interactions with peers and tutors? Or are we just assuming that we interact less and worse? If there is a lack of interaction, what consequences does this have for us students? Are we less motivated? Are we dissatisfied with our education? These are the questions we will be exploring in our new research. Now, what do we expect to find? We think that students will be less motivated and less satisfied with their education. But, why? The answer to this question is quite simple: Because the rise remote learning has forced us to interact with our peers and tutors in never-before-seen ways, leading us to miss out on key university-life experiences.
The pandemic has shown that distance education is possible. But we still don’t know what the future holds. We might be stuck doing home office for another year or two. We might sit next to each other in lecture halls and tutorials again. Or perhaps we will join the next Zoom party together trying to socialize from a distance.

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