By Karen Leifer
Times are difficult. According to The New York Times, as of April 15th, 2020, over two million people have been diagnosed with Covid-19 worldwide. Over 130,000 have died. Covid-19, a result of a coronavirus, has increased stress in the population. On the topic of stress, I started wondering what types of stress students face both in school and during virtual learning. To answer some of my questions, I conducted phone interviews with freshman students Sophie Snyder and Lindsay Gottlieb.
Q: What are your main causes of stress?
Ms. Gottlieb responded that her main cause of stress is “not understanding a concept” taught in school. Ms. Snyder’s main cause of stress is the “expectation to do well and constantly working [sic] hard.” She also feels stressed by the constant “drilling of assignments.” Both students' main stressors revolve around school-related topics.
According to a 2018 poll from GlobeNewswire, forty-five percent of students reported being stressed “all the time.” Thirty-seven percent of students were “sometimes” stressed.
Q: How would you evaluate your school-related stress rate on a scale of one (lowest possible answer) to ten (highest possible answer)?
Ms. Gottlieb’s stress level is a six while in a traditional classroom setting, but an eight during the period of online learning. Ms. Snyder’s stress level is a six. She feels that “high school is more organized” than middle school, and she has developed time management skills. Both students rated their stress over the halfway mark of the scale.
Q: To what extent are teachers aware of students’ school related stress?
Ms. Gottlieb said that she believes most teachers are aware that students face stress, “but some choose to ignore it.” She also stated that some teachers are aware of the impact stress has on students’ mental health. Ms. Snyder stated that she believes teachers are aware of stress in students, but “some teachers understand better than others.” Conclusions can be drawn from both ladies' responses that some teachers are aware of students' stress, but not all are fully informed or seem concerned about its impacts.
Q: Is traditional classroom learning more or less stressful than online learning and why?
Ms. Gottlieb responded that online learning has been more stressful as most assignments consist of comprehending a text and responding to questions afterwards. She “would prefer to be in a classroom where a teacher’s help is available.”
Ms. Snyder’s response was the opposite of Ms. Gottlieb’s. She stated that there “isn’t as much pressure” due to the pass/ fail grading system being implemented during the fourth marking period. As both responses were different, they show that learning is not a universal experience, and students’ stress stems from different sources.
Q: What would a student need in order to feel less stressed?
Ms. Gottlieb responded that “school stress can never be alleviated. It will always exist to some extent.” She believes that teachers need to take other classes and subjects into consideration when assigning work. Her response also included that “homework is necessary at certain times but is arguably one of the most significant causes of student stress.” Ms. Gottlieb believes that homework should consist of unfinished classwork and a little bit of practice from the lesson taught in class. She disagrees with the assignment of work that teaches a new concept, separate from the one reviewed in class.
Ms. Snyder reported that “more understanding from the school [and] teachers” is necessary. She doesn’t feel as if they recognize that students have stress outside of school too. She also feels that students are often asked about, “what we want to do for the rest of our lives, while we’re still children.”
After I conducted the interviews with Ms. Gottlieb and Ms. Snyder, I concluded that school is a major source of stress for students. Teachers are not always aware of their students’ stress levels and are not always taking measures to try and fix the stress students feel. For students to have a calmer learning experience, teachers may need to reevaluate their methods of teaching.