Return of The In-Person Classroom?
The rapid and unprecedented changes in learning environments during the pandemic have raised concerns about the effectiveness of the education students have been receiving. Besides the inconsistencies of the academic environment taking a toll on students, teachers have also had difficulties constantly readjusting their method of delivery to fit the requirements of their jurisdiction as well as the accommodations for students. Although the pandemic has had an overall negative impact on the academic experience and health of students, there are some tips that may help students adjust to the move back to a normal classroom setting.
Different Learning Styles
Regardless of the method of delivery, education comes in many forms for everyone. This means that everyone has a unique learning style. Teachers should be educated about the various types of learning styles and how to incorporate them into the curriculum. A study published by The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology defines two categories of learning–perception, and organization–divided into more specific learning styles (Yilmaz-Soylu). Perception-based learning styles are abstract conceptualization, which is based on structuring and testing ideas, and concrete experience, which is based on involvement and communication. Organization-based styles are reflective observation, which is based on listening and collecting data, and active experimentation, which is based on setting goals and making decisions.
The research analyzed the effectiveness between different learning styles and learning environments, and ultimately, learning styles were found to be independent of the environment. This is important when considering the return to in-person classrooms because it means that teachers should still consider the significance of learning experiences tailored towards each student even though the classroom environment is constantly changing. Students should not have to adapt to a new learning environment as much as teachers should accommodate for the students because the role of the teacher is to make sure that each student receives a meaningful, rich learning experience in a comfortable and welcoming setting.
COVID-19 and In-Person Classrooms
Regarding the factor of COVID-19 in the return to in-person classes, based on the research over the past year, children and adolescents have not been severely affected by the disease and are typically asymptomatic (Altmann). While this is reassuring for the short-term sight of having children back in classrooms, the long-term effect of asymptomatic exposure is still unknown. However, there are some mitigation strategies to be employed by teachers who want to create a more comfortable environment for students that include wearing masks, ample ventilation, frequent testing, small class sizes, and spaced-out classrooms.
Happiness and Success of Students
Another important factor to consider from the student perspective is the drastic decline of happiness that started at the beginning of the pandemic. Because happiness and academic performance are positively correlated, overall academic performance has also taken a notable decline (Moussa). Fortunately, the return to in-person classes may have a positive effect on students as one step towards a return to normal from pandemic life.
Some tips to help students return to an in-person setting are not too different from general tips for academic success. The main two factors of academic success are good time management and self-care (Janssens). The switch to online education has added an extra layer of stress as it tasks students with more difficult time management. To combat the increase of tasks in a world with less structure, prioritizing tasks can help balance an overwhelming number of tasks. Including self-care into your schedule is also recommended as it allows self-care to not be forgotten before burnout takes over. Creating structure is an important skill for students to learn especially with distance learning because they have much more responsibilities with having to manage classes on their own.
Education Hasn’t Changed
Life has no doubt been hectic since the beginning of the pandemic, with students having one of the largest adjustments of learning how to manage time and with some being overloaded with online coursework and expectations. However, tips for academic success never change as the most important things are effectively managing and prioritizing tasks and making sure to take time for self-care because burnout makes the overwhelming feeling that much worse. Finally, a seemingly often forgotten aspect of education is the varying levels of learning styles, but the return to in-person classes should not be as scary and dangerous as it may seem because ultimately, the steps to effective education have not changed.
Altmann, Daniel M. “Children and the return to school: how much should we worry about covid-19 and long covid?.” bmj 372 (2021).
Janssens, Jessica. “The work/life/school/family balance: Tips and strategies for the busy student.” (2020).
Moussa, Nahla M., and Wael F. Ali. “Exploring the Relationship Between Students’ Academic Success and Happiness Levels in the Higher Education Settings During the Lockdown Period of COVID-19.” Psychological Reports (2021): 0033294121994568.
Yilmaz-Soylu, Meryem, and Buket Akkoyunlu. “The Effect of Learning Styles on Achievement in Different Learning Environments.” Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET 8.4 (2009): 43-50.