University of São Paulo: In the pandemic, health students identified improvement in some socio-emotional skills

Researchers from the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeirão Preto (FMRP) at USP interviewed 954 health students, residents of the South and Southeast regions of Brazil, for a study on the self-perception of the impacts of the global crisis on academic life. The objective was to identify how university students have perceived the development or improvement of socio-emotional skills during the pandemic.
“We identified that participating students have a strong perception that the development and improvement of socio-emotional skills are important for professional success. In this sense, they noticed improvement in terms of procrastination, protagonism in studies, collaboration with colleagues and openness to new experiences”, reveals Gilberto Leal, a speech therapist graduated at FMRP and one of the authors of the work.
Even so, says Leal, the pandemic negatively affected studies by generating feelings of frustration and demotivation. Participants, who answered an online questionnaire with 25 questions at the end of 2020, also reported that they experienced feelings of emotional instability and decreased school performance during the first year of the pandemic.
“Frustration and anguish are expected feelings during periods of isolation, as we experience in the pandemic. This happens to the general population and is caused by stressors, such as lack of physical freedom and lower frequency of social interaction. Particularly among students, the displacement to the remote contributed to the perception of negative feelings”, explains Leal.

The speech therapist points out that it is important to reflect on academic strategies to help students deal with challenges. “ Many studies have worked with the theme of students’ mental health and it is known that some strategies can be adopted by educational institutions, such as: developing tutoring to help establish a healthy routine; accompany and welcome the student, both individually and in small groups; and create virtual encounters to promote integrative and/or complementary practices”, he comments.

An example of a mentoring initiative is the Mentoring program , which is coordinated by the FMRP’s Center for Educational and Psychological Support (Caep) and aims to welcome undergraduate students during the adaptation period. Students are placed in groups that function as a space for conversation, support and appropriate guidance formed by freshmen, peers and mentors.

non-cognitive skills
Also called soft skills , non-cognitive or socio-emotional skills are characterized by competencies that go beyond academic knowledge. Among the main examples are autonomy, emotional control, sociability, the ability to make decisions and even organization.

“This development has been valued as or more than theoretical and practical knowledge in the professional market and, therefore, must be explored, explains Professor Tatiane Martins Jorge, professor of the Speech Therapy course at FMRP and the study’s supervisor.

The teacher also explains that changes in the way of learning and doing are opportunities to develop the aforementioned skills. “Although the pandemic and other unexpected contexts cause a lot of fear and frustration, it is important that we start to realize what has improved in us, often lessons that we will take with us for a lifetime. ”

Tatiane Martins Jorge – Photo Personal Archive
Another important point of the study is that the students identified the feeling of protagonism in relation to their studies. “For an individual to achieve the ability to have good time management, it is necessary to develop or improve skills such as: setting goals, establishing plans, managing unforeseen events, meeting deadlines, among others. Therefore, the self-perception of autonomy in the study was only possible thanks to the continuity of activities, even if remotely”, he concludes.