The Corona virus has taken a massive toll on what we knew was our world. As a student in college myself, one of the outstanding reasons for this was the switch to online learning. Heather Stringer, of the American Psychological Association, discusses the negatives of Zoom learning in her article “Zoom school’s mental health toll on kids”.
Stringer emphasizes how children are no longer motivated to do work, they lose many “key ingredients for inspiration” in this online world. Lack of one to one help from teachers, hands on learning and group work are all such factors. Stringer also addresses how a lack of confidence can relate to worse performance. In the article, Stringer includes insight from Eric Anderman, PhD. Anderman expresses that he thinks a lack of individual feedback from educators create a lack of confidence and therefore competence in children’s school work. Anderman says that a key component of giving children this confidence is when teachers break skills down to simpler steps, without this Anderman says kids are more likely to give up on their work.
Anderman’s aforementioned idea that kids lose confidence and therefore competence in their work when they lack a breakdown of ideas from educators is addressed by Elizabeth Wakefield et al. in her research study entitled “Learning math by hand: The neural effects of gesture-based instruction in 8-year-old children”. Wakefield et al. ran a study to understand how the effects of learning with/without gestures present themselves neurally in the brain. In the study the researchers determined that children who used gestures in learning a math problem had more neural activation than those that did not use gestures. Wakefield at al wrote “learning through gesture leads to a lasting and embedded neural trace of motor system involvement”. This study shows us that having this addition to learning will create better results.
With the scientific evidence from Wakefield’s experiment backing up Stringer’s article we can conclude that Zoom learning can be detrimental to some student’s learning. Luckily, many schools have returned to in person learning, however with this knowledge it would be important to think of better ways to address teaching if another pandemic were to occur. Educators have done their best with the circumstances they were presented at the start of the pandemic, and in the future it will be important to incorporate learning practices that are backed by studies such as Wakefiled et al’s.
Stringer, H. (2020, October 13). Zoom school’s mental health toll on kids. https://www.apa.org/news/apa/2020/online-learning-mental-health
Wakefield, E. M., Congdon, E. L., Novack, M. A., Goldin-Meadow, S., & James, K. H. (2019). Learning math by hand: The neural effects of gesture-based instruction in 8-year-old children. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 81(7), 2343–2353. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-019-01755-y