The Pandemic’s Impact on Student Motivation

It’s no question that the pandemic uprooted our routines and changed the way in which we live. For students, traditional lectures turned into zooms sessions, paper assignments turned into online submissions, and study groups evaporated. The conversation on motivation entered the stage after attendance began to steadily decrease and dropout rates began to increase. The media ran stories with headlines like “Thousands of students have dropped out of school due to Covid-19” with the data to support it. Many speculated that a decline of student motivation during the pandemic was one of the primary causes. Following the cautious reopening classrooms, some believe the pandemic continues to impact student motivation.

Anne-Fleur Lurvink, a high school teacher, recalls the transition to online-learning. “I remember the adrenaline of our teacher response to the crisis, the sense of community and empowerment, and the pride we took in having our entire curriculum online by next day. Then came the struggles: the reality of online teaching, the ‘missing’ children, the mentally and physically hurt children, and the narratives of knowledge deficits and repair programs,” she said.

While the challenges for students and educators lessen after the administration of the vaccine, one opinion maintains that the pandemics impact on motivation largely remains today. A research report article written by faculty from the Girne American University defines motivation by stating it is “complex by nature and has been studied extensively in the field of psychology and other relevant disciplines. It impacts behaviors, thought processes, and the duration of time individuals dedicate to their tasks”.

A recent poll conducted by UNICEF shows that 46% of young people report “having less motivation to do activities they usually enjoy” and 36% “feel less motivation to do regular chores”. The survey found a strong correlation between the students reported motivation to their reported mental health.

Similarly, a research report article from Girne American University, also relates the decrease of motivation to be linked to psychological discrepancies caused by the pandemic. “Crucially, psychological factors should be the focus of decision-makers in this field so that educational psychology and psychosocial contexts are taken into consideration. Consequences that will rise from lack of motivation and engagement (both teachers and students) can have direct effects on the future of education. It is also important to note that the psychological state of teachers should be addressed and their well-being noted so that they can better overcome current challenges. In this sense, the motivation and engagement of students should be regarded as behavioral, personal, and important factors.”

In contrast, another perspective cites the pandemic to have caused the unravelment of the previous standard for access to education. Bellwether Education Partners, an education nonprofit focused on underserved children, researched the newest barriers created around education. BEP reported that an estimated 1 million and 3 million students in the United States have not attended school since closures began in March of 2020. The research found high-risk groups including homeless students and children with disabilities were especially impacted.

In reflection, can the increased dropout rates be completely attributed to a decline in student motivation? How much should be contributed to a lack of psychological assistance? How do we find an effective way to counteract the consequences from the disruption of education? As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is essential that students and educators are responsive in handling the lasting consequences to properly transfer knowledge to the newest generations. Like the problem itself, the solution will likely be complex.



Education and COVID-19