March 19, 2021
So many things are occurring right now: the vaccine, schools starting face to face instruction, establishments opening, college students adjusting to another class format. The events and changes of the last year have strong emotional and cognitive impacts on students. Although international travel is still very restrictive, some things seem to be going back to whatever a new normal may be. What will that new normal look like in the classroom and while colleges look to how to continue to attract international students?
It only takes about sixty-six days to form a habit. During that time, you can develop habits of cutting back on coffee, going to bed earlier, starting to work out, watch television, or read for an hour a day. During this last year, many students have established new habits in and out of the virtual classroom. Students have been exposed to emergency transitions to on-line instruction, difficulty accessing online course materials due to intermittent internet access, dealing with personal aspects of family illness, obstacles with constant change in classroom and schedules, and virtual social interactions. Of course, COVID-19 will have many long-lasting effects on education, but what types of learning and consumer habits have been learned this last year and how we do adjust to them?
As we adjust in the next coming year, some old habits will be welcome, and some new habits will require changes. Habits are based on behaviors from a repetitive learned action that persists. There are many mechanisms that can influence learned behaviors and trigger decisions. Mechanisms include the psychological side of the habit, learning the habit, behavior persistence, attempting to maintain the status quo bias, influence of technology, individual effort to change, behavior of those around them, constant changes to their environment, and learning about self-preferences. Habits can strengthen through repetition, context, and goals.
If we use this information and apply it the adjusting world of consumer and classroom behavior, we can see how the habits formed in the last year will create a challenging environment. One thing we need to ask ourselves is if the old or new habits will remain. The COVID impacts on consumer behavior have been hoarding, improvisation, pent-up demand, the embracement of digital technology, products being delivered instead of store visits, blurring of work school life boundaries, communication styles with friends and families, and discoveries of hidden talents. Internationally, there were also traveling and time difference impacts.
Due to these newly formed habits during this last year, we will all need to view our work in international education differently. These fresh consumer and learning habits will need to be reviewed to ensure educators are meeting the new needs and desires of international students. I believe that classroom instruction will need to change to reflect the influence of technology and the constant changing classroom environment. I also wonder if students will be more equipped now to do more group projects or if they perceive classroom interactions to be different moving forward. International recruiting will require professionals to now review the academic programs that have become priority for countries, meet new financial needs of families, and tackle the challenge of continued virtual events and fairs. In whatever aspect of international education, we all work with, there will be new classroom and consumer habits that will need to be addressed and researched to continue serving students well.
Sheth, J. (2020). Impact of covid-19 on consumer behavior: Will the hold habits return or die?. Journal of Business Research, 117, 280-283.
Volpp, K. & Loewenstein, G. (2020). What is a habit? Diverse mechanisms that produce sustained behavior change. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 161, 36-38.
Tara Braun, Doctoral Candidate, Doctorate in Educational Leadership. Tara has over fifteen years-experience in international higher education ranging from study abroad, international partnerships, recruiting, immigration, and student programming. She is an active member of NAFSA, has served in leadership roles at the NAFSA state level, advocacy groups, and presents at numerous conferences. Mrs. Braun holds a Master’s in Career and Technical Education, is a doctoral candidate at Central Michigan University (EdD) and serves as the PDSO and Associate Director of International Admissions and Immigration at Calvin University. Her dissertation work focuses on the re-acculturation experiences of Ghanaian students who studied in the United States. Tara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Academic Credentials Evaluation Institute, Inc. (ACEI), was founded in 1994 and is based in Los Angeles, CA, USA. ACEI is a full-service company providing complete and integrated services in the areas of international education research, credential evaluation, and translation. ACEI’s Global Consulting Group®, offers expertise in the following specialties: Media and Branding, Global Pathways, and Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) to interested institutions and organizations around the globe. www.acei-global.org