Master of Arts
Dr. Tracey Adams
Dr. Wolfgang Lehmann
This study explored how the pandemic and the shift to online learning impacted university students’ experiences of learning and working, and how students’ capital and other resources impacted their university experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eighteen undergraduate students who had paid employment in the last 12 months were recruited. In interviews participants were asked about their experiences with work, schooling and balancing the two with the pressures of the pandemic. Students cited financial concerns, as well as challenges with difficulties with online learning, motivation, and isolation. Importantly, this study found that students experiences differed in accordance with their capital and resources. Those with family capital and support, had an easier time balancing working and learning during the pandemic than others. No one was untouched by the pandemic but the resources at students’ disposal heavily impacted what challenges they faced and the severity of those challenges.
Summary for Lay Audience
This study explored how the pandemic, and the shift to online learning, impacted university students’ experiences of learning and working, as well as, how capital and other resources impacted undergraduate students’ university experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic disrupted people’s daily routines and how we interact with each other. For many students, education was moved to an online delivery format, moving away from in-person interactions. These changes have forced students to navigate technology challenges, limited social supports and isolation. Students who were or are employed in order to pay for their education may have been impacted differently based on the field they worked in. Some fields saw an increase in work (and increase of risk from working), while others saw a reduction or even layoffs.
For this study, I recruited 18 undergraduate students at Western, who have had paid employment in the last 12 months. Interview participants were asked about their experiences with work, schooling, and balancing the two with the pressures of the pandemic. Students frequently cited concerns over living and school expenses, and highlighted how the transition of university into a digital medium brought on an increased workload, a social disconnect from their fellow students and challenges to motivation.
This study found that students’ experiences varied in accordance with the financial well-being and family support. No one was untouched by the pandemic but the resources at students’ disposal heavily impacted what challenges they faced and the severity of those challenges. Social interactions were also limited during parts of the pandemic limiting the potential for the expansion of social networks. These finds help shed light on how students adapted or struggled during the pandemic. The findings also show how individual and family resources can influence adaptations to major events such as a pandemic.
Bernard Bravo, Miguel F., "The Impact of COVID-19 on Undergraduate University Students with Part-Time Jobs" (2022). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 8752.
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