Effects of Distance Learning on Students' Academic Performance and Health

Tuesday Aug. 31st, 2021

When the impacts of COVID-19 hit the educational sector in full force, schools scrambled to adapt to the pandemic. They adopted a new system of learning that'd keep both students and educators safe from the virus.

And this switch led to significant changes in the educational system, the most notable being the mass adoption of distance learning systems.

As parents and students alike tried to adapt to the challenges of the necessary switch to distance learning, educators did not consider the effects of distance learning on students' academic performance.

In this article, we will discuss how changing to distance learning has affected students' performance worldwide.

Reliance on Alternative Academic Resources

After the switch to online learning, students lost access to libraries and other school-provided academic resources.

Some schools attempted to provide online resources to fill this void, but it was largely insufficient. As a result, most students had to look for alternative resources to keep up with school work.

Students also had to rely on YouTube videos and other educational apps to help make the transition to distance learning more manageable.

Moreover, most students pay someone to write my paper and essays to keep up with assignments and school work in general. This has ultimately improved the performance of most students.

Lack of Physical Contact with Peers

A significant reason why students want to return to in-person classes is because of the physical interactions. 

Teachers have attempted to use interactive ed-tech tools to make online classes engaging, but the fact remains that it's not a substitute for actually being surrounded by classmates. 

More than 50% of students who switched to distance learning still find the lack of personal interaction with peers distressing. And this possibly affects their concentration levels and overall performance.

The Absence of Pressure to Perform

Research has shown that academic pressure is the most significant challenge students encounter nowadays, placing it above peer pressure.

Given the structure of distance learning and the fact that the transition might be difficult for some students, schools have become more lenient with grading and coursework.

Some schools have entirely modified their grading system to lessen the burden on pupils by implementing a 'less judgmental' system.

Unfortunately, the long-term effects of this lax grading system are still unknown. 

Struggles with Mental Health

If you've heard the term "Zoom fatigue," you'll have an idea of the mental strain that online learning places on pupils. Zoom fatigue refers to the exhaustion that people experience after spending a lengthy period on video conferencing classes.

Although there is no formal diagnosis, it is still a common concern for students today. Besides, sitting in front of a screen for long hours is emotionally tasking.

Students experience emotions of loneliness, isolation, anxiety, and depression due to a lack of social engagement. This all goes back to that lack of physical contact with peers. And while adults can cope to some extent, most students struggle to manage with this enforced loneliness. 

Adaptation to New Learning Methods

Distance learning focuses on digital tools, most of which are relatively new to academia. Learning platforms like WolframAlpha and other virtual labs have become part of the regular curriculum. And as a result, students have to adapt to these services in a very short time.

Adapting to distance learning was quite a challenge at the onset of the pandemic because it was entirely new to most students.

However, few activities like orientations and seminars have helped students adapt better. Before the pandemic, most students did not have functional study spaces, but the transition to online learning has emphasized the need for one. 

Better Time Management with Self-Paced Learning

Online learning may be a new learning curve for students, but adapting to new learning methods has its advantages. Students can self-pace themselves and better manage their time, resulting in more efficient learning. 

Rather than sitting in class all day, students are now taking more breaks to exercise and unwind before returning to work, which has proven highly advantageous to their grades.

Decline in Cases of Abuse and Discrimination

Some students might miss physical learning and school in general, but the switch to online learning has been a blessing to others. Students who get picked on and abused in school have had a far better time learning from home and are reluctant to return to the status quo.

Although cyberbullying is on the rise, students can easily report the bullies without fear of retribution. Also, teachers can identify and punish bullies, thereby making the classroom safer for students.

Lack of Motivation to Study

One of the factors that motivate students to study is peer relationships. In every class, there's always a healthy sense of competition that drives students to perform better to get bragging rights.

But the forced isolation and switch to online learning has deprived students of that extra bit of motivation.

Besides, the leniency in grading has also contributed to this lack of motivation. Even the top performers no longer feel the urge to put in their best efforts in class. After all, there is no incentive to burn the midnight oil.


The long-term effects of the switch to distance learning should be a cause for concern. Although there are positives to distance learning, the well-being of students must take priority moving forward. School administrators must take measures to make sure students come out of this phase with good physical and psychological health. 

As more information about the effects of online learning comes to light, parents and teachers must be proactive to mitigate the adverse effects. We should all work together to make online learning a safe and viable learning method until everything returns to normal.