Online learning can be a lonely journey without a study buddy. When there is only an assignment deadline or an exam date looming in what seems like the distant future, it is easy to procrastinate and wait until the last minute before you start working on your project or studying.
Characteristics to be successful with your online studies
Not everyone is disciplined, organised, and focused enough to start with an assignment as soon as they receive the task. Very few of my friends have these desirable characteristics when it comes to their studies. Usually, work and family commitments take preference, and if there is a spare moment, it is catching up on new Netflix shows.
I know from personal experience that it is not from a lack of time that I am not working on my studies but rather a struggle to muster up the motivation to get going. If you sound like me (and most of my friends), then maybe you need a study buddy.
Self-determination theory, or what makes you want to study
The self-determination theory proposed by Deci and Ryan in 1985 explains that for individuals to feel motivated to take action, their basic needs for autonomy, competence and relatedness must be met (Chiu, 2022; Deci et al., 1989; Gagné et al., 2022; Miller-Young et al., 2023). Autonomy basically means a person should feel free to decide when and how to take action. Competence means someone thinks that they have the ability or means to complete the action. Relatedness refers to the inherent human desire to establish meaningful connections with others and to feel a sense of belonging.
At BMT College, the design of our programmes ensures that your autonomy, competence, and relatedness needs are met. You have the flexibility to choose where and when you want to study. By successively completing modules, you will build a strong knowledge and skills base, preparing you for the next module and the next level of studies. The practical application of your studies will help you to effectively bridge the gap between theory and practice, boosting your overall competence. Overall, the transferability of the skills across various industries prepares you for advancement and promotion in your career.
Moreover, the College encourages social interaction by allowing students to participate in discussion forums on the Virtual Campus and join our exclusive BMT College Facebook Group, where students can connect. Lecturers also host online Zoom sessions regularly, where you can meet with your fellow students.
By nurturing students’ belief in their capabilities to master challenging assignments, providing them with autonomy and control in the learning process and fostering a supportive community conducive to forming positive social connections, intrinsic motivation to learn is cultivated.
The need for a study buddy
In a study conducted by Trenshaw et al. (2016) on first-year engineering students, connecting with other students and feeling part of a student community was noted as the most prominent factor in motivating students to learn. This study also found that when there is a reduced sense of connectedness, students experience a decreased sense of competence (Trenshaw et al., 2016). In other words, if a student experiences a sense of disconnect from other students or the learning community, it may lead to a diminished feeling of competence to complete assignments successfully.
Unfortunately, the basic need to relate with peers in an online course and to form part of the learning community is often neglected due to students’ work and home demands. We often find this to be cited as the main reason why students do not attend scheduled Zoom sessions where they can form bonds with their lecturers and other students. Although some may consider Zoom sessions with peers or a study buddy as a time waster, connecting with other students can act as a buffer against perceived stress and anxiety (Lee & Goldstein, 2016; Vungkhanching et al., 2016) and can positively impact academic performance and well-being (Zheng, 2022).
Engaging with other students and joining a study community where you can share in each other’s learning journeys will help fill your need to socialise with others and form meaningful relationships. When you have a study partner with whom you regularly meet online or engage in conversation, you will feel an increased sense of responsibility to work on your assignments or study for exams if you and your study buddy keep each other accountable to clock study time. Having a study buddy can increase your dedication and commitment to staying on track with your studies. A study partner also allows you the opportunity to exchange ideas, debate study content, share different perspectives, learn through social interaction and create better study habits.
Join a study group now
This is a private group where you may exchange contact numbers and form your own WhatsApp study groups. Most lecturers have a discussion forum for their course, where you can start a discussion or comment on other students’ posts.
I have also recently discovered virtual learning libraries, where you can join or form an online study group and meet students worldwide. Additionally, you can set your learning goals and log your study statistics displayed on a leaderboard to motivate you to spend more time on your studies. When you engage in online learning communities, remember to be safe and never give out information that may put you at risk for online abuse, impersonation, hacking, etc.
Some of the online communities include:
By embracing social motivation, you will not only have a more memorable and enjoyable experience, but you may also find a new friend for life – even if you only meet face-to-face for the first time at your graduation ceremony!
Chiu, T. K. F. (2022). Applying the self-determination theory (SDT) to explain student engagement in online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 54(sup1), S14–S30. https://doi.org/10.1080/15391523.2021.1891998
Deci, E. L., Connell, J. P., & Ryan, R. M. (1989). Self-determination in a work organization. Journal of Applied Psychology, 74(4), 580–590. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.74.4.580
Gagné, M., Parker, S. K., Griffin, M. A., Dunlop, P. D., Knight, C., Klonek, F. E., & Parent-Rocheleau, X. (2022). Understanding and shaping the future of work with self-determination theory. Nature Reviews Psychology, 1(7), 378–392. https://doi.org/10.1038/s44159-022-00056-w
Lee, C. S., & Goldstein, S. E. (2016). Loneliness, Stress, and Social Support in Young Adulthood: Does the Source of Support Matter? Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45(3), 568–580. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0395-9
Maslow, A. H. (1943). A theory of human motivation. Psychological Review, 50(4), 370–396. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0054346
Miller-Young, J., Jamieson, M., & Beck, S. (2023). Diverse experiences and belonging in an online, first-year, team-based engineering design course. Teaching in Higher Education, 1–17. https://doi.org/10.1080/13562517.2022.2162816
Trenshaw, K. F., Revelo, R. A., Earl, K. A., & Herman, G. L. (2016). Using Self Determination Theory Principles to Promote Engineering Students’ Intrinsic Motivation to Learn. International Journal of Engineering Education, 32(3(A)), 1194–1207.
Vungkhanching, M., Tonsing, J. C., & Tonsing, K. N. (2016). Psychological Distress, Coping and Perceived Social Support in Social Work Students. British Journal of Social Work, bcw145. https://doi.org/10.1093/bjsw/bcw145
Zheng, F. (2022). Fostering Students’ Well-Being: The Mediating Role of Teacher Interpersonal Behavior and Student-Teacher Relationships. Frontiers in Psychology, 12, 796728. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2021.796728