Research projects

Project CEMAPRE internal

TitleHow did Covid 19 Pandemic affect Students’ school achievement and expectations in the transition from Upper Secondary to Higher Education
ParticipantsGraça Leão Fernandes (Principal Investigator)
SummaryThe COVID 19 Pandemic has strongly affected the education system, regardless of the level of
education. The impact on initial schooling levels was stronger than on Higher Education (HE) given
the greater vulnerability associated with younger ages.

The literature review showed that the impact of the pandemic on education was huge and felt
worldwide [WEF November 14, 2022]. The transition to online teaching was very fast, which had
negative effects, causing a loss of learning and changing expectations about transition to Higher
Education. This loss in a very important phase of the students' lives will have a negative impact
since it is crucial in building foundational knowledge that will shape their future [Dorn et al.

The implementation of online classes required students to have computers\notebooks\cell phones and
internet access to be able to follow the classes. For students from poorer families and with less
education, this could only have led to serious learning failures and lack of motivation

The pandemic affected the academic performance of students in the post-Covid 19 pandemic, leading to
a setback in the trajectory to overcome the difference in HE graduates between the average levels of
Portugal and the Eurozone [28.3% against 30.4% by 2021 (EUROSTAT DATABASE)] and the Millennium
Sustainability Goals (Goal 4) subscribed by Portugal.

Dorn et al. (2021), Garcia, E. & Weiss, E. (2020) and Mitchell, A. & Jaeger, A. (2018) drew
attention to the fact that the socioeconomic status of the family determined how great was the loss
in student learning and therefore, the impact on their school performance.

The OECD PISA 2015 (OECD 2017) results emphasize the importance of expectations and motivation in
decision-making on the transition to HE.

In the Portuguese education system, the primary and secondary levels of education had to make the
transition in about a month.

In previous studies we looked for evidence on how a variety of factors, individual and economic
characteristics of the family of origin, previous school failure, own employment situation, are
responsible for school performance, dropout or delay in enrolling in the University education. And
how the weight of these factors in the abandonment decision varies with the economic cycle.

We also analyzed the impact of the economic cycle on the student's school performance, namely
dropout or delay in enrollment in HE, and expectations\motivations in relation to the transition
from USec to HE.

We now intend to understand to what extent the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic reinforced these
previous results.

The literature review shows us a strengthening of inequality in access to HE, due to the impact of
COVID 19 on household income, especially for those who did not recover from the 2011 crisis, as in
Greece, as well as difficulties in accessing essential ICT to follow classes, etc. (Aristovnik et al
2020; Kara 2021; Tsolu et al 2021).

It also reveals an increase in the levels of anxiety and depression in USec and HE students, boosted
by the aforementioned situations of inequality (Aristovnik et al, op cit, 2020, Schmits et al 2021).