Revealing useful student attributes during the recent COVID-19 pandemic

Ms Jacqui Holmes1

1Southern Cross University, Balinga, Australia

Revealing useful student attributes during the recent Covid-19 pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has created the greatest disruption of the education systems in recent history and has also exacerbated pre-existing challenges for international students. These pre-existing stresses include homesickness, lack of family support, cultural challenges and language. Besides the stresses that this pandemic has visited on the general population, and adaptions that international students need to assimilate; our students have also had to overcome the unique challenges that the pandemic has visited on students across the globe, in adapting to online learning and dealing with the lack of the support that physical interaction with the student cohort and academic staff brings. The aim our study was on the impact of the Covid-19 outbreak has had on students, and more particularly, to focus on the high achiever students and the solutions that they have affected, not only to adapt to these extraordinary times, but to thrive. Our measurement metrics included:- how they have managed to stay engaged and motivated; how they have adapted to, and taken advantage of technology; the role that SCU’s support services have played; the role of additional support services; substitutes or adaptions to traditional physical assisted cohort learning. Key contributory factors to high achievers excelling were: – requesting additional one-on-one zoom meetings with academic staff; engaging in more independent learning. Another overwhelming factor that was discovered was their “grit factor”. The metrics reinforced our findings, in that we found that international students pass rates improved during the first semester of COVID (S1 March to June) i.e. from 66.6 % (S1/19) to 82.23% (S1/20); with commencing students in S1/20 having a higher average GPA’s, with fewer failing grades, than the commencing cohort of S1/19.

Born in South Africa, Jacqui immigrated to Australia 5 years ago. Part of her motivation for immigrating, was to continue her studies with an international recognised degree in Business Administration through Southern Cross University.
She was probably the most surprised that she attained a course GPA of 6.63, with a 6.75 in her final year. Jacqui credits a large part of her GPA success to the support and encouragement that she found at SCU. Having been a student ambassador during her studies, she was honoured to be asked to join the university’s international support team.
She feels that this has afford her the unique privilege of sharing her passion for lifelong learning, as well as emulating the guidance that supported her so well during her studies at SCU.

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