Office of the Dean, Sydney College of Divinity

Studying with grit in an era of uncertainty: A mixed methods study

Presentation Abstract

Recent years have seen students studying during times of uncertainty as seemingly “unprecedented” local and global crises have unfolded around them. Examples include Australia’s bushfires in 2019 and 2020, the worst and costliest fire season in recorded history, the sudden onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, and the recent outbreak of war in Ukraine, alongside storms, heatwaves, droughts, floods, and extreme weather events. What makes these crises appear “unprecedented” is their quick succession, cumulative impact, interlocking consequences, and widespread cascading effects. Set against this background of prolonged volatility, precarity, and insecurity, this exploratory research investigates student perspectives and felt needs in an era of uncertainty. While other studies have analysed the impacts of individual crises on students, no other research has examined student experiences of uncertainty during the current era of successive local and global crises. This mixed methods study addresses this knowledge gap by examining the impact of multiple crises on the students of Alphacrucis (AC) University College, a private Australian higher education institution (HEI) with approximately 4,000 students. Data collection used an online survey (n=271) and a qualitative interview subsample (n=14) with the goal of painting a comprehensive picture of student-informed experiences. By scrutinising student perspectives on studying during times of uncertainty, this research adds to our understanding of how higher education stakeholders may better support students in key areas of their academic journey towards the formation of grit.