Published: April 21, 2020

by Anna Nell, Miles Hood and Haylee Graff 

Introduction

Our class brainstormed what were the most important obstacles in online learning and we came up with four main categories:

Environment, Motivation, Organization/Structure, and Communication

We were assigned motivation and as we brainstormed further we became more and more interested in how grades and pass/fail affect our motivation. We hope that by gathering the opinions of college students across the country, we can help to give administrators  a sense of how to work with students to make this learning meaningful  in such uncertain and confusing times.

Academic motivation is typically fuelled by grades. For many of us currently, it is the only thing that is motivating us. 

In many of our situations though, motivating to complete school work is exceedingly difficult when things are happening in our  lives that are so much bigger.

For students in Boulder’s community and across the country, more serious issues are taking precedence over schoolwork, causing grades to suffer.

Methodology 

For the research element of our project, we thought that one of the most effective ways to grasp college students’ overall motivation and factors affecting it was through a survey via Survey Monkey. Through this survey we are able to receive unbiased responses that help us to get a better sense of students' thoughts about the transition to online learning during COVID-19. In this survey, we aim to reach as many college students from across the country as possible. Our questions are:

  • How would you describe your overall academic motivation before the transition to online school? (1-10, 1 being extremely low/none and 10 being extremely high)
  • How would you rate your overall academic motivation currently? (1-10, 1 being extremely low/none and 10 being extremely high)
  • Are there any specific factors that you think are influencing your motivation? (ex: lack of structure, lack of in person contact, disorganization, family issues)
  • Do you think that continuing to have graded assignments is a major contributor to your motivation? (yes or no) 
  • Do you think that having grade security (grade cannot go down) would affect your motivation levels? (none-a great deal)

Summary of Results (so far)

How would you describe your overall academic motivation before the transition to online school? (1-10, 1 being extremely low/none and 10 being extremely high)

3

How would you rate your overall academic motivation currently? (1-10, 1 being extremely low/none and 10 being extremely high)

1

Are there any specific factors that you think are influencing your motivation? (ex: lack of structure, lack of in person contact, disorganization, family issues)

Factors: Percentage of Respondents (40 total)

Lack of Structure: 47.8%

Change in Environment: 50.7%

Lack of Communication: 18.8%

Disorganization (Teachers and Self): 21.7%

Lack of In person Contact: 36.2%

Other: 36.2%

Do you think that continuing to have graded assignments is a major contributor to your motivation? (yes or no)

 no

Do you think that having grade security (grade cannot go down) would affect your motivation levels? (none-a great deal)

 28

Conclusion

The work that we have done has been very beneficial in giving our group a sense of how college students feel during the current pandemic and how their motivational levels have been possibly adversely or positively affected.  As you can see with our data, the majority of the responses we collected show that college students around the country feel a low sense of academic motivation during the current pandemic. For many, the so-called “campus life” feeds their sense of academic motivation and even their overall well-being. The virtual classes are oftentimes confusing and contain an overload of information to keep track of. Deadlines are iffy, assignments are misleading, and exams are extremely difficult for students to study for. Our survey worked as a way to better understand the way college students are feeling about Universities nationwide transitioning to online classes.