Some students find devices intended to help them, like e-readers and tablets, only increase their stress levels.
iPad learning may not be suited for every student in the classroom
Students have more gadgets available to aid them than ever before – yet despite the high-tech help, stress levels are soaring in universities and colleges.
The students blame this on high workloads and poor scheduling of assignments and exams.
But some lecturers say that at the heart of the problem is a failure to use the technology properly, which leads to poor time management.
“If students don’t learn to manage their technology, it will consume them,” said Dr Jack Hillwig, the assistant dean at the College of Communication and Media Sciences at Zayed University.
“Technology is only as helpful as you are able to make use of it,” added Fiona Hunt, an adviser and instructor at Zayed.
“One of the factors that contributes to stress is students’ concerns for their grades. [They are] juggling several courses and wanting to do the best they can in each one.”
A recent survey of American students by the Associated Press and mtvU, a college television network, found high levels of stress.
“Four out of 10 college students report they feel stressed often,” their report said. “One out of five say they feel stressed most of the time. One out of four students experienced daily stress.”
And a study of 500 US students last year by the etextbook company CourseSmart and Wakefield Research found “73 per cent said they would not be able to study without some form of technology, and 38 per cent said that they could not even go more than 10 minutes without checking their laptop, smartphone, tablet or e-reader”.
Aisha Ahmed, 22, an Emirati studying marketing at Zayed University, believes gadgets help her but are not to blame for stress.
“I do get stressed a lot actually, although I have an organiser in my iPhone and I use my iPad, too,” she said. “I don’t think my stress is due to organisational issues, it is because professors assign due dates for assignments on the same day or week. It gets really hectic.”
Noora Humaid, 21, an advertising student at the American University in Dubai, echoed these concerns.
“Some teachers think their class is the only one we have,” she said. “They give us way too many assignments and exams. I do my best to stay organised and use technology to aid my studying but I sometimes find the time restricting.”
Some students said they manage their time and their stress well.
“I do get stressed sometimes, said Fatima Rashed, 22, a public relations student at Zayed. “But I channel the stress into being productive. ” She said technology helps her studies and time management was not an issue.
Al Anoud Qadheeb, 23, an education student at Zayed, said she suffers from stress but it was because she also has a family to care for.
“I don’t use technology much,” she said. “I use my laptop for assignments only. I manage my studies well for a mother.”
Dr Justin Thomas, a professor at Zayed and a columnist for The National, offered a psychological perspective to student stress.
“It can harm your performance if you are really anxious, you can make silly mistakes. A little anxiety helps but too much hinders your performance.”
He recommended a counter-?intuitive approach to easing stress: “This technique is emotional processing, the idea of visualising the worst scenario and imagining your state then. Imagining it won’t make it happen, all it does is take it out of your mind.”