Rethinking learning experience: How generally perceived life stress influences students’ course perceptions in different learning environments

  • Previous research work has already demonstrated that both the form of teaching as well as different teaching methods directly influence students’ learning experience along with their psychobiological responses at the endocrine and autonomic level. Aiming to gain deeper insights into the constitution of the learning experience, this study examined the influence of external factors such as generally perceived life stress and self-efficacy on the immediate learning experience in different learning environments. Therefore, a randomized experimental field study was conducted in which both psychological constructs and physiological data (heart rate variability) were collected from healthy first-year medical students (\(\it n\) = 101) during the COVID-19 pandemic. In an effort to determine the consistency of the effects across various teaching formats, the same content of a practical histology course was carried out in a face-to-face setting as well as in passive and active online teaching. While self-efficacy was a strong predictor for positive course perceptions in all learning conditions (Pearson’s (\(\it r\) = 0.41–0.58), generally perceived worries correlated with higher anxiety during passive online learning and face-to-face learning (Pearson’s (\(\it r\) = 0.21–0.44), a finding supported by the negative correlation between the level of perceived life demands and enjoyment during the learning unit (Pearson’s (\(\it r\) = −0.40–−0.43). Here, we additionally report initial evidence pointing towards the role of reduced general life stress as a resilience factor for the expression of physiological stress parameters in an academic context (small-sized effect; Pearson’s (\(\it r\) = 0.18). The data gathered in this study illustrate the relevance of emerging emotional manifestations — either aversive; negative effect or positive; protective effect — for the immediate learning process and thus establish a connection between medical education and the importance of mental health and wellbeing — especially discussed against the background of current social and political challenges in increasingly complex societal structures.

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Author:Morris GellischORCiDGND, Thorsten SchäferGND, Imadeldin YahyaORCiDGND, Matthias JoswigGND, Xin ChengGND, Gabriela Morosan-PuopoloORCiDGND, Beate Brand-SaberiORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):European journal of investigation in health, psychology and education
Place of publication:Basel
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2024/02/28
Date of first Publication:2023/08/12
Publishing Institution:Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universitätsbibliothek
Tag:Open Access Fonds
digital learning environments; medical education; stress and learning
First Page:1491
Last Page:1504
Article Processing Charge funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Open Access Publication Fund of Ruhr-Universität Bochum.
Institutes/Facilities:Institut für Anatomie, Abteilung für Anatomie und Molekulare Embryologie
Zentrum für Digitales Lehren und Lernen in der Medizin
Dewey Decimal Classification:Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / Medizin, Gesundheit
open_access (DINI-Set):open_access
Licence (English):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY 4.0 - Attribution 4.0 International