In the era of remote study, students from different levels and disciplines agree: Succeeding on exams requires a fight.
COVID-19 has dramatically changed our quotidian life, and the situation for Moroccan university students is no exception. It stopped business, travel, and international trade. It also blocked the national economy, resulted in social crises, and closed schools and universities. It is an unprecedented event in modern history.
On March 13, the Ministry of Higher Education announced that all schools and faculties, across the country, were to be closed due to the spread of the virus. It came as a protective measure to ensure the safety of students, administrative staff, and professors.
However, as Minister of Education Saaid Amzazi affirmed, the decision did not imply by any means that the educational process stopped. He emphasized the fact that online learning — or e-learning — is the ultimate replacement under these circumstances. All students were to continue their studies and finish their annual programs on the internet.
Online learning requires specific conditions. It necessitates constant access to the internet, continual communication between tutors and pupils, and precise and actual knowledge of the technology used in it.
The major problem, in addition to the challenges mentioned above and according to the students interviewed in this article, is the psychological effect that online learning has on university students from different majors, programs, and institutions.
Master program students
Saloua and Oumayma are two master program students at the School of Arts and Humanities in Meknes. Since the outbreak of this novel virus, the two have conducted work on their research paper in lockdown, a task that could not get any more complex.
The two Moroccan university students, when interviewed, agreed on the fact that studying from a distance is indeed complicated and difficult. In order for a student to fulfill their research paper’s requirements, they need to be in constant contact with their supervisors, to have access to libraries and books, and to be able to distribute questionnaires and surveys.
“I feel pressured, even though there is no pressure and plenty of time,” Saloua said.
The 22-year-old described herself as a visual learner and an extrovert who cannot truly concentrate unless there is motion and a real exchange of knowledge, something that remote learning does not provide. “Online learning is not for me,” said Saloua. “Sometimes, I feel like I can’t do much.”
“My problem is that I need to contact my supervisor, and I need to have access to some references, but with COVID-19 on the loose, I couldn’t,” Saloua added.
On the other hand, Oumayma, 24, said “I enjoyed myself in quarantine.” She added, “I always preferred working alone, and if I am motivated enough, I would be just fine.” Oumayma, an introverted student, also emphasized the positive impact that comes with attending classes, such as developing public speaking skills, as well as building a social network that can benefit all parties while taking the university journey.
For both Saloua and Oumayma, the major problem is psychological. They said that the enthusiasm, challenge, and excitement needed to overcome the situation are “nowhere to be found.” Instead, they always find themselves extremely unmotivated, even when “I do nothing, and I do have plenty of time.”
“The precautions taken by the faculty were stressful, everything is closed, even the cafeteria where I relax a bit between exams,” said Afaf, a medical student in her fifth year.
Online studying is an experience that all Moroccan university students are going through. Some have positive feedback on it, and some others do not. Afaf and Maroua, 22 and 20, are two medical students from the Faculty of Medicine in Fez, and they both can see some positivity in e-learning.
Students of medicine had their examinations last month. However, their experience in preparing is worth sharing. “We had many chapters to prepare, and we were afraid that online learning would be a waste of time, but the faculty made a significant effort, and it succeeded in this challenge,” said Afaf and Maroua.
The Faculty of Medicine in Fez created an online platform where it shared “professional video-lectures for every promotion, they also added quizzes at the end of every video to test our knowledge, I find it to be creative!” said Afaf.
Maroua, a second-year student in the faculty, confirmed, “they, indeed, provided us with all that we need; videos and PDFs. What I liked the most is that we can return to those media whenever appropriate for us.”
Nevertheless, because of the pressure and stress, the two girls suffered significantly while preparing for their end of term exams in quarantine. “It was hard to concentrate and even harder to set a particular atmosphere,” said Maroua. “It’s like we’re battling ourselves,” she added.
The pressure and lack of motivation influence students’ performance. As for Afaf and Maroua, they tried their best to overcome psychological barriers in order to pass their exams, and they did, successfully.
Bachelor degree students
“Online learning’s impact is not as big as expected (…) I have my PDFs, and I try to concentrate on them,” said Othmane, a second-year BA student, majoring in English studies at the School of Arts and Humanities in Meknes.
Othmane, 21, had always enjoyed attending classes and engaging in conversations with his professors and classmates. He said, “I enjoy being in class, and I benefit tremendously from my and my classmates’ mistakes and errors.”
However, for Othmane, the current situation made him change his attitude towards his learning process. He needed to adapt to the new conditions and set an appropriate program to overcome the pressure and go forward with his studies.
“I found it hard to cope with everything, after three months of prison I couldn’t do much, I need to breathe first,” said Othmane.
Othmane’s university provided students with online poly copies, and some professors arranged live streamings where they had better contact with students.
“I wake up early and take all the time I need,” Othmane confirmed. One can defeat the negative psychological aspect by actualizing their daily program, choosing the appropriate time set, and creating a conducive atmosphere.
All of these Moroccan university students agreed on one thing: Demotivation and pressure are significant obstacles that stand between students and preparation for their final exams. With lockdown, online classes, and exams, one must fight to succeed.