Prep Education

Destress, one study group at a time

Online peer-to-peer learning can help students tide through academic anxiety

While examinations, tests, and marks are external factors of stress that are visible to all, we often forget to address the many internal factors that can take a toll on our mental health. It is common for students to endure stress and worry during exam time, but with mounting parental pressure and the need to be at par with peers, sometimes, this stress turns into anxiety.

A 2018 study conducted on a set of Indian students by King Edward Memorial (KEM) Hospital, Mumbai, revealed that anxiety is highly prevalent amongst school-going students. According to the study, one in 10 participating students between the ages of eight and 15 were found to have symptoms of anxiety, while in the 12 to 15 year age group, one in five students reported these symptoms.

Taking a toll

While it is common for people to get anxious in challenging situations, it is a cause for concern if these feelings are prolonged and have a direct impact on their emotional wellbeing. When it comes to studies, especially, students do not want to fall short of the mark as opposed to their peers. Moreover, they may not want to disappoint their parents by not doing well in their tests and exams. Anxiety involves a number of fears, such as those of being humiliated or embarrassed upon failure. This can lead to a lack of self-esteem and decision-making abilities. Anxiety can also involve physical symptoms such as excessive sweating, insomnia, trouble breathing, dizziness and shaking.

What can help students through such times, especially while coping with the pressure to perform well at school, is to make the process of learning fun. One effective way to do this is through online peer-to-peer learning. With this method, students learn by collaborating with friends and others who are at the same academic level, making it interactive and informative at the same time.

Peer help

Different styles of learning suit different people. While some prefer to work alone, group studying has proven to be a very effective method for students and has been a popular practice for a long time. Though busy schedules may not allow students to go to each other’s houses or a common meeting place as often as they like, the rise of online learning platforms today has emerged as a saviour in such a situation. It also gives students extended access to guidance from teachers and subject experts.

Peer-to-peer learning involves studying with people of the same age group who are at a similar academic level as each other. This also makes for a more fun environment, with a reduced fear of being criticised for not knowing something. This style of learning can also offer a student more perspectives on a subject in real-time. There is scope for debate and discussions on a number of topics, and students are able to quiz each other while they make their way through the course material.

According to research published on NCBI, peer-to-peer learning can help increase confidence among students, as well as reduce levels of anxiety and stress. Therefore, through the collaborative nature of peer-to-peer learning, students are able to delve into subjects — something that one may not have the time or motivation to do on their own. This enables them to understand their subjects better, thereby helping them gain confidence and improve their mental health.

Peer-to-peer learning enables students to take a deep-dive into subjects with less effort, making for better understanding and long-term retention. These factors help students feel better prepared to tackle academic challenges. In the midst of it all, it is imperative that students do not forget to have some fun during their well-planned breaks. By effectively mapping out study time (and breaks) with friends, students can control and curb levels of anxiety, while taking on their academic tasks to the best of their ability.

Striking a balance

While it is important to prepare well for your tests, exams, and future professional life, it is equally important to focus on taking time off to de-stress.

Students need to plan out their breaks and manage their time well. Taking short but frequent breaks is the best way to do this. During your breaks, it is good to avoid watching TV as one can be easily distracted and end up watching more than planned. Instead, listening to music is a proven stress-buster.

You can also take to playing a game with your friends — whether indoors, such as a board game, or an outdoor sport. It is also nice to take a walk outside, as the fresh air and change in environment is a good way to rest your mind and get away from ‘study-mode’ for just a bit.

The writer is CEO, Brainly.

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 7:12:28 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/education/destress-one-study-group-at-a-time/article29118579.ece

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