iMPACTS has partnered with social science researchers at Douglas College in Vancouver, BC to fund research on how COVID-19 affects students' social and psychological well-being.
The project, “Learning in Novel Times,” explores the social impacts of COVID-19 on students and how the pandemic has affected their emotional, social and psychological health.
iMPACTS director and James McGill Professor Dr Shaheen Shariff says the project at Douglas College will add to iMPACTS' in-depth research already underway with national and international partners. “The findings from this project will give an informed understanding of young people’s experiences and perceptions of sexual violence, and what this means for the kinds of responses that are needed from post-secondary institutions.”
By surveying hundreds of post-secondary students in BC's Lower Mainland, the researchers are investigating several areas that intersect with COVID-19, such as online learning, online sexual harassment, cyberbullying, and social and psychological well-being. Rim Gacimi, lead Student Research Assistant and a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology Honours student at Douglas College, said she hopes the data will shed light on the kinds of issues students are facing during COVID-19 and allow policymakers and institutions to take preventative measures for future pandemic planning.
“We want to know if students are experiencing specific challenges during the pandemic. Are they reporting higher levels of cyber sexual harassment due to their increased online social interactions? How are students adjusting emotionally and financially?” said Gacimi.
Dr Lisa Smith, Sociology professor at Douglas College and one of the directors of the project, said gathering this information is important because it will give institutions an idea of where students need extra supports. “Voices of students and their experiences need to be heard, especially for marginalized groups during the pandemic who may need additional support and resources to navigate uncertainty and upheaval,” she said.
The data is currently being collected, and the researchers are evaluating the results. The findings are expected to be published in the spring of 2023 and the research team anticipates post-secondary administrators, policymakers, and the public to use the information to help support all post-secondary students.