Students’ Experience of Online University Education During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Relationships to Psychological Health
The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the complete closure of many university campuses and a rapid shift to complete online delivery of university teaching. Understanding the student experience of online learning under these conditions is important to inform improvements and adaptations to continued online delivery of university services. The aim of this study was to examine students’ experience of online learning, studying, and assessment during the pandemic and investigate the association between these perceptions and measures of psychological health. A cohort of 391 undergraduate students completed measures of stress, anxiety and psychological wellbeing at the beginning and end of a semester during which a shift to complete remote delivery of university teaching occurred due to COVID-19 restrictions. Students also rated how stressful or difficult they found five aspects of online learning, study and assessment which was used to calculate a composite score. T-tests were used to compare stress, anxiety and psychological wellbeing scores from the beginning and end of the semester. Regression models were used to examine the relationship between online learning composite score and psychological health measures. Unexpectedly, stress and psychological wellbeing improved over the semester during which the university campus closed, and all teaching and assessments were online. Students with higher stress scores and lower psychological wellbeing scores at the beginning of the semester were more likely to experience difficulty and stress with online teaching.