This collaborative project seeks to offer insights into how higher education and performing arts engage with blended learning.
A cross-faculty research team of staff and students at Trinity Laban are investigating the psychological impact of virtual learning and teaching on higher education experience within the performing arts as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Launched in July, the Trinity Laban student-staff collaborative research began as four separate master’s projects before being brought together by programme leader Dr Liliana Araújo and further expanded to focus on students and teachers.
75 teachers working across music and dance programmes responded to the survey. Findings showed:
- The main concerns were high expectations, time and workload management.
- A generalised low self-efficacy for online teaching.
- Feelings of frustration in relation to autonomy at work.
- High levels of stress and risk of burnout.
These findings suggest the need to foster individual and institutional psychological ‘literacy’ to support teachers. This can be achieved by creating environments where teachers feel that can seek emotional support, reducing a sense of self-blame and encouraging active coping strategies, which can reduce stress and burnout. Institutions may want to consider that that expectations (of time) are different to face to face and how workloads are managed in future blended approaches. Recommendations from the literature include: reducing unnecessary stressors, promoting reflection and open discussion, increasing opportunities for interdepartmental activities, reducing barriers to individual initiative, and promoting a culture of innovation.
73 Music students and 73 Dance students took part and findings suggested:
- The main challenges to engage with online learning were related to space availability, motivation and missing colleagues
- Students showed low perceived ability to learn online and maintain practice when facing adversity
- Students struggled with the lack of performances and a showed tendency to over rely on external indicators of self-worth, which impacts motivation, achievement and wellbeing
- There was a general low sense of competence and accomplishment
- Risk of burnout among dance students
- Students also reported that lockdown allowed them to think what kind of performer they want to be, some appreciated the opportunity to learn at their own pace and positive emotions of interest, determination and alertness were stated.
Findings suggest the need to develop a greater sense of autonomy and competence amongst students, especially as uncertainty towards the present and future is high. This will have an impact on students’ motivation and wellbeing and can reduce the risk of burnout by fostering self-awareness and psychological resilience. Literature suggests that this can be done by providing meaningful choices, rationale and opportunities for active and collaborative participation in learning, making learning and teaching strategies and activities more aligned with students’ values and interests.
The team is now carrying out a new study to investigate how the psychological impact of the pandemic on teachers has evolved since last academic year. The team is inviting currently eligible individuals to take part by completing one 15-minute anonymous online survey focusing on experiences of stress, burnout and motivation.
This project has been approved by the Trinity Laban Research Ethics Committee.
Surveys are open until Friday 31 July.
To participate, you must be over 18 years old and work as teacher/lecturer in Performing Arts academic and non-academic/outreach programs at a conservatoire or university in order to complete the survey.
Dr Liliana Araújo, Sonia Rafferty, Professor Emma Redding