By UOW Malaysia KDU
The pandemic has disrupted the lives of almost everyone. It has also increased the psychological and social pressure on nearly every individual, industry, and organization in almost every part of the world. Among those affected industries, the education industry is the only one that has successfully transferred its operations to an online mode. However, it is not without challenges. Among the many challenges of an online teaching and learning model is that many students fail to interact and learn effectively due to the absence of non-verbal and limited visual communication options on online platforms.
Aside from that, online learning requires a high level of discipline and self-motivation, both of which are often commonly lacking in students especially after a prolonged period. In light of this issue, the first-year students from the Department of Mass Communication at UOW Malaysia KDU Penang have launched a motivational talk entitled “Developing your best self: Overcoming Barriers” in conjunction with the Campaign “Get Out There (not literally)”.
The talk is aimed at inspiring students to stay motivated during this period of uncertainty. In this motivational talk, Mr. Andrew Au Soon Kay, a positive psychology trainer, shared about the importance of one’s mindset when facing challenges. He borrowed several terms from Dr. Carol Dweck, leading author, and researcher of the growth mindset to highlight the point that the view one adopts for oneself profoundly affects the way one leads one’s life. Mr. Au highlighted the fact that people generally hold two mindsets – a fixed and a growth mindset in life. Those with a fixed mindset are usually those who succumb to problems through negative self-talk and fixed perceptions of their abilities and limits. Those with the growth mindset believe that problems can be overcome with some effort and an attitude for learning.
In addressing various issues such as adapting to the “new-norm” or ongoing virtual learning for students, Mr. Au encouraged all participants to adopt the growth mindset by asking questions that focus on growth. For example, “What can I learn from this?”, “How else can I think about this?”, and “What is possible?”. One can benefit from virtual learning by holding a growth mindset of wanting to learn rather than a fixed mindset that traditional methods such as classroom learning is the only way or best way to learn. In every situation, growth mindset questions would help one forge ahead successfully without laying blame on an external factor or feeling inadequate.
21-year-old Serena Wong, the campaign director, pointed out that she has observed a digital barrier in most students, especially when it comes to introverts. These types of students may find it difficult to adapt to this new learning environment, which primarily depends on voice learning with no real physical interactions. With the absence of non-verbal cues such as eye contact and body gestures, students tend to feel more anxiety when meeting new people and are more likely to have negative thoughts. She hoped that through this motivational talk, students would be inspired to speak up in online learning, step out and meet new people, as well as enjoy online learning.
Marissa, a 26-year-old participant shared that she was deeply motivated by the wisdom imparted by Mr. Au especially when he spoke about the growth mindset. According to her, It helped her to view many things from a different perspective. She said that she used to think practice makes perfect until Mr. Au assured them that nothing can be perfect even if they envision it to be. Mr. Au said that everything can be better and through practice.
Aside from helping students in terms of psychological matter, UOW Malaysia KDU Penang also launched the “Aid for all” food bank activity in order to help those with financial problems. Both the staff and students from UOW Malaysia KDU has been actively supporting this activity.