Students Struggle With Work Ethic in Online Environment


Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

Students’ work ethic has dropped drastically across the U.S. as they grapple with pandemic stress and changing school situations amid deadlines.

COVID-19 has ravaged the world, stealing lives, eliminating jobs, and fooling our amygdalas. Gallup News, an analytics company, explains the situation when writing that COVID-19 has led to a “global mental health crisis.” Adults and students alike have endured the effects of this problem, as 43% fewer adults are reporting stable mental health. For students, the problem is a decrease in work ethic.

“I have noticed changes,” explained Kavi S., a 7th grader at Longfellow. “[There is] more procrastination and a lot of holding stuff until the last minute.”

This deficit in work ethic can cause students to turn work in late or do sloppy work. Part of the problem is the combination of the pandemic and the normal switch to middle school. Not only are many middle schoolers experiencing a dramatic shift from 6th grade to 7th grade, but they also have to do so in a virtual environment.

“The vibe I get seems [like] there is a lot more of a feeling of isolation, and I think a lot of the students, especially towards the beginning of the year, were feeling overwhelmed,” added PE teacher Michell Orban. “The adjustment from 6th grade to 7th grade is challenging as is, but then adding onto that this whole other aspect of everything being virtual and everything that that encompasses is just challenging and overwhelming for everything involved.”

For some, this disconnected feeling has caused less urgency in completing schoolwork.
“I found that it is stressful at times,” said science teacher Dr. Elizabeth Daniels. “I would like [students] to participate more. I do try to use dialogue more, but I still go out to many websites, and I know it is difficult: there are codes for pear deck, sign in’s for gizmo-it isn’t easy.”
Daniels acknowledged that all of these websites and logins are hard for her, so she is very tolerant with her students, but in the end, they need to put in some effort.
“I don’t see effort going on sometimes,” she said in reference to hybrid and distance learning. “We lead them so far, but one has to take one’s own responsibilities – especially students.”
The good news is that our work ethic is likely to return to normal after everyone returns to school. Dr. Daniels continues
“[At school] I am in close proximity with them, you know? We do more interesting things that might be more engaging: hands-on with microscopes, dialogue, and eye-to-eye contact. At that point, I think the majority will go back to being successful. So I do believe that being back in school will help. But, I don’t particularly see the enhancement until we are all in class.”