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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 313-318

Psychosocial impact of the nationwide lockdown on undergraduate engineering students in Maharashtra


1 Department of Mental Health Nursing, Mental Health Nursing, Datta Meghe College of Nursing, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
2 Department of Mental Health Nursing, Meghe Group of Institutes, Nagpur, Maharashtra, India
3 Department of Oral Medicine and Radiology, Sharad Pawar Dental College and Hospital, Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences (Deemed to be University), Sawangi (M), Wardha, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission24-Jan-2021
Date of Decision08-Mar-2021
Date of Acceptance08-Apr-2021
Date of Web Publication18-Oct-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vaishali Dinesh Tendolkar
Department of Mental Health Nursing, Datta Meghe College of Nursing, Meghe Group of Institute, Nagpur, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/jdmimsu.jdmimsu_241_21

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  Abstract 


Background: In the last few decades, mushrooming of technology institutes and engineering colleges has led to saturation of graduate engineers. For most technology and engineering graduates, the future seems gloomy and uncertain. With the recent worldwide recession, employability chances of many technology and engineering graduates have gone down. Survival of the most skilled is the thumb rule in recent years. The condition is further augmented by the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences of the lockdown. The graduates pursuing technology education and engineering are badly affected by this phase. Aim: The current study aims at assessing the impact of lockdown due to COVID-19 on the psychosocial behavior of the technology and engineering students. Study Design: This is an online survey. Study Population: Technology and Engineering students in the age group of 17–25 years, both males and females. Sample Size: The sample size was 779. Materials and Methods: A psychological impact scale for students was developed by the investigators (r = 0.85). It is a 5-point scale with 0 as minimum score and 120 as the maximum possible score. Results: The mean age of the students was 20.49 ± 1.45 years. Nearly 95.4% of the students were living with their parents during this period of lockdown. Approximately 34.79% of the students experienced borderline negative impact, 18.74 reported mild negative impact, and 4.24% reported moderate negative impact of lockdown in just 30 days of the lockdown period. Most surprisingly, despite being with parents, 23.1% of the students had been out on roads during the lockdown. Conclusion: The lockdown has shown its adverse impact on the technology and engineering students. There is an urgent need to take steps to improve the employability of technology and engineering students. Else such a skilled workforce will be victim of psychological problems and a very important asset of the country shall be a waste.

Keywords: Nationwide lockdown, psychosocial impact, COVID 19 pandemic


How to cite this article:
Tendolkar VD, Suraj S, Panchbhai A. Psychosocial impact of the nationwide lockdown on undergraduate engineering students in Maharashtra. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ 2021;16:313-8

How to cite this URL:
Tendolkar VD, Suraj S, Panchbhai A. Psychosocial impact of the nationwide lockdown on undergraduate engineering students in Maharashtra. J Datta Meghe Inst Med Sci Univ [serial online] 2021 [cited 2021 Nov 28];16:313-8. Available from: http://www.journaldmims.com/text.asp?2021/16/2/313/328456




  Introduction Top


College represents new opportunities, dreams, an increase in the level of freedom, and new peer groups, but at the same time, it represents a period of maximum psychosocial growth with intellectual enhancement. An adolescent begins his/her journey into becoming a mini adult with identity formation, which lays the foundation for future success. Among these adolescents, some enter the field of technology and engineering with high aims and dreams where they visualize their future in research, academics, multinational organizations, or government services. Some students on the other hand are pushed into technology and engineering by parental pressure and for some it may be a peer pressure also.[1]

On joining the course of technology or engineering, every student is uncertain about how they fit into an environment which is both theoretical and technical. Some start the journey with good self-motivation, whereas others are motivated by their peer groups, parents, or teachers and for some it is just passing each day as it comes with no goals of their own. And then, the burden of the curriculum sets in. From the mid-semester to the end-semester exams, the assignments, the projects and their deadlines, various submissions, and attending the lectures, the stress level soars high. Along with this, their preconceived ideas of success begin to fall. Parental and peer expectations begin to cause anxiety. Merely passing was not what they expected, especially for those whose scores in school performance were high. For those who never had a backlog, this first-time experience of a backlog leads to frustration. Academic achievement is important to students of this age as it sets the stage for future higher education and occupational opportunities. Along with these academic challenges, personal issues in other areas of life aggravate the already-existing confusion.

Studies by Darling, McWey, Howard, and Olmstead, 2007; Goodman, 1993; Misra and McKean, 2000; Ross et al., 1999; Towbes and Cohen, 1996 showed certain factors such as grades, economic complications, professional future, lack of study time, extensive amount of work, parental expectations of academic performance, disagreement with friends, anguish with societal life, and work-related issues being responsible for creating a stressful situation of life. In addition, separation from home, higher academic demand, professional career, and existential questions about life are some of the main sources of stress and anxiety for youth (Whitman, Spendlove, and Clark, 1984). Such stressors can come into a student's life, leading to unhealthy coping mechanism and finally depression. The symptoms seen are low self-esteem, loss of interest in all activities, and feeling of hopelessness. These symptoms in turn further affect their academic success.

According to Gallagher (2009) and Mackenzie et al. (2011), stress in an inevitable part of students' life. Definitely, moderate amount of stress is beneficial for every student to achieve professional success. A research done by Larson and Luthans (2006) shows that extreme amount of stress may devastate students and lead to anxiety, depression, and psychological problems. As most of the students in technology and engineering colleges are hostelities, financial issues, expenses of food and rent, commuting to college, additional finances for project works, and outing with friends put additional strain on their minds. Unhealthy food habits lower their physical and mental stamina. Time management is another cause adding to stress among professional students. Successfully completing theory, practical, projects, and assignments take away all their time and they are left with no time for some stress-relieving activities. Lack of sleep affects their concentration in classroom, all leading to negative emotions.

According to a study conducted by Lin Y (2012), the various causes of stress in engineering colleges can be miscommunications with a professor regarding an assignment, conflicts with peers and professors within a laboratory or project group, or the lack of understanding or availability of a guide when necessary. Another stressor for students is unhealthy relationships among parents, leading to quarrels and verbal abuse.

According to a study by Majumdar B (2010), it has been found that a student's self image is also closely related to his/her academic success as a positive self-image is conducive to positive self-esteem and self-efficacy. Even a breakup will negatively impact a student's self-image and precipitate a bout of depressive feelings. Obsessive thoughts, negativity, difficulty sleeping, or eating usually follow a breakup.

According to an article in Greenwich Free Press, students who are likely to show depressive symptoms after relationship breakup experienced neglect or abuse during childhood, were found to have an insecure attachment style, they felt more betrayed, and were more unprepared for the breakup. Relationships both healthy and unhealthy are seen in engineering students.

Poor performance in academics along with other stressors will have a negative impact on their emotions, which is another cause for losing interest in all activities, loneliness, and finally going into depression. Students with good coping skills may talk with peers, parents, and professors for motivation and guidance and cope up with failure. However, students with unhealthy coping mechanisms may give up or get diverted into addictions such as alcohol, smoking, or drugs. These substances can be tempting to avoid depression, but they are dangerous and can actually worsen the symptoms of depression. They further interfere with academic performance.

For most technology and engineering graduates, the future also seems uncertain. With the recent recession, employability chances of many engineering graduates have gone down. The industry needs knowledgeable and skilled people. At present, with so many engineering colleges blooming up in every corner and the low percentage for admission to technology and engineering education, the degradation in the quality of an engineer is a fact and hence increase in unemployment rate is seen. The quality of education has also become more important during the recession. There is a huge gap between technical knowledge and practical knowledge. Due to this, many students with backlogs prefer to drop out from engineering and take on other lucrative subjects such as commerce, business studies, and chartered accountant courses.

According to a study done by The Aspiring Minds, only 4.77% engineering candidates could write the correct logic for a program – a minimum requirement for any programming job. Around 36,000 engineering students of over 500 colleges from IT-related branches took Automata which is a machine learning-based assessment of software development skills, and more than 60% could not even write code that compiles. Only about 1.4% were able to write functionally correct and efficient code.

Along with these already-existing issues, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the life of technology and engineering students to a standstill, adding to their already-existing uncertainties. The condition may worsen when the Indian skilled persons working abroad (the nonresidential Indians) shall be sent back to India by other countries such as the USA and the UK. The millions of them shall be more skilled that the ones in India and compete for the existing jobs. With such a background, the investigators wished to find out the psychosocial impact of the present lockdown scenario on technology and engineering students.


  Materials and Methods Top


Aim of the study

The study aims at assessing the level of depression on engineering students during this lockdown phase.

Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study are as follows:

  1. To identify the reasons for breaking the lockdown by students
  2. To assess the extent of depression among engineering students during this lockdown period.


Study setting

The study was conducted in Nagpur city of Maharashtra state which was declared as a red zone for corona infection. The students were from engineering background.

Study design

This is an online survey with Google Form of questions.

Study population

Engineering college students in the age group of 17–25 years, both male and female students, were included in the study.

Study duration

The study was conducted from April 2020 to June 2020.

Sample size

The sample size was 779 students belonging to engineering background.

Tool for data collection

The investigators prepared a psychosocial impact of lockdown scale. The tool has three parts. Part I caters to the demographic information of the students, which include age, residence, course of study, year of study, types of family, number of family members, and during lockdown living with. Part II of the tool evaluated the reasons for breaking the lockdown and number of times the lockdown was broken by the student in the past 15 days. Part III of the tool was a self-rating scale with thirty statements, for which response was elicited on a 5-point scale. The response was to be graded based on how often the student felt that way in the last 15 days. The higher the response, the higher was the impact. Each item had a minimum score of 0 and a maximum score of 4. The responses ranged from a minimum of 0 to a maximum of 120. The response scores were categorized into five categories of reactive depression. The score range of 0–20 was considered normal response to the event of lockdown and 21–40 score was considered borderline negative impact. Scores between 41 and 70 were treated as mild negative impact, 71–100 fell into moderate negative impact category, and scores between 101 and 120 fell into severe negative impact category.

Method of data collection

The students were contacted through their functional E-mails and students' WhatsApp groups. The link of the Google Form was shared with the students. The participation in the survey was purely on a voluntary basis. The investigators were accessible through phone for clearing the doubts of the students. Only the initial respondents were included who responded within 72 h of sharing the Forms. The self-report Forms were shared with the students after 15 days' complete lockdown on April 6, 2020.

Plan for data analysis

The collected data were coded and analyzed based on the objectives of the study. Descriptive statistics of mean, standard deviation, frequency, and percentage were used to describe the students according to their responses to different items on the scale.[2],[3],[4],[5],[6],[7]


  Results Top


The observation and analysis section deals with the description of the study participants according to their demographic information and behavior during lockdown in terms of number of times going out of the house and the reasons for it, and the depression level is assessed. Further analysis of association of depression levels with demographic characteristics is also done to identify the predictors of depression among the demographic characteristics.

[Table 1] shows the distribution of students according to their demographic characteristics. The mean age of the students was 20.49 ± 1.45 years. The students belong to BE (97.4%), B. Tech (1.2%), B. Arch (1.2%), and diploma in engineering (0.3%). The participants were studying in the 1st year (5.4%), 2nd year (26.6%), 3rd year (41.3%), and final year (26.7%) of their respective course of study. They lived in rural areas (22.8%), urban areas (63.3%), and semi-urban areas (13.9%). Among the participants, 82.8% were Hindu, 0.5% were Muslims, 0.3% were Jains, 15.7% were Buddhists, 0.4% were Christians, and 0.4% belonged to other religions. The students belonged to joint families (27.6%) and nuclear families (72.3%). Nearly 83.4% of the students had 2–5 members in their family, 11.3% had 6–9 members, and 5.0% had more than 10 members in their family. Approximately 95.4% of the students were living with their parents during the period of lockdown, 1.4% lived with their relatives, 0.40% lived with friends, and 2.8% were living alone.
Table 1: General information of study participants

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[Table 2] shows the number of times the students left their house and the reasons for which they went out of their house during the period of lockdown.
Table 2: Movement during lockdown

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Among the participants, 23.1% had been out on roads during the lockdown, 4.1% had to go out for their job, 50.7% had to go out for purchasing medicines, 58.9% had to go out for grocery and vegetables, 7.4% went out to meet their friends, 3.3% went out to attend a funeral, 2.3% attended family function, 14.4% had to go out to complete their academic assignments, 14% went out to refresh themselves and 17.5% went out to help neighbor/relatives, etc., during the lockdown.

[Table 3] shows the responses to the items describing students' feelings in the last 15 days during the period of lockdown. Nearly 18.8% of the students felt that the government has straddled their activities unnecessarily, 88.3% were happy for being with their family, 80.2% were worried about their educational loss, 41.5% were bored seeing same faces day and night, 42.5% did not like being instructed every now, 65.2% fely that they are expected to study round a clock, 48.7% know that their privacy is challenged, and 39.8% felt helpless as they have to be at home. Twenty-six percent of the students felt that they are being jailed for no reason, 76.4% were relieved that they are getting enough time to study, 60.3% felt very lonely as they could not meet their friends, 53.7% felt that social media contact with friends and relatives is not sufficient, 25.8% regreted to be part of this lockdown, and 37.3% did not feel like eating. Sixty percentage of the students felt that they have slowed down in their actions, 49.2% felt more irritable these days, 52.8% reported of having sleepless nights, 59.5% were worried about the existence of human race, 26.2% reported crying spells very often these days, 40.9% felt that they have become touchy/sensitive because of being in one place, 42.2% felt hopeless about their future, 34.1% felt that the lockdown has shattered their dreams, 53.1% felt depressed when they read/viewed on social media about the lockdown, 44.2% reported of becoming suspicious these days, 59.8% felt that the Third World War has started, 56.6% were uncertain about the duration of the lockdown, 29.9% felt that they were victimized during the lockdown, 82.8% felt sad when they heard about the death on news channels, 34.9% did not think that they will be able to meet their friends with the same warmth again, and 46.3% of the students thought that social distancing has distanced people from one another.
Table 3: Psychosocial impact of the lockdown

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[Table 4] shows the intensity of negative impact on students due to the lockdown. Nearly 41.34% of the students had normal response to the lockdown conditions, 34.79% showed borderline negative impact of the lockdown, 18.74% showed mild negative impact, 4.24% showed moderate negative impact, and 0.90% showed severe negative impact due to the nationwide lockdown.
Table 4: Level of depression among the participants

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The lockdown impact scores were found significantly associated with age (P = 0.000) at 5% level of significance and with the course of study (P = 0.000) at 10% level of significance. This association can be attributed to most participants being in their 20s and most participants belonging to engineering course of study.


  Discussion Top


This study aimed at assessing the level of depression and other psychosocial impacts of the lockdown among engineering college students in Nagpur. The findings revealed that the mean age of the students was 20.49 ± 1.45 years. Approximately 95.4% of the students were living with their parents during the period of lockdown, 34.79% experienced borderline negative impact, 18.74% showed mild negative impact, 4.24% showed moderate negative impact, and 0.90% showed severe negative impact due to the nationwide lockdown. Despite being with parents, 23.1% had been out on roads during the lockdown: 4.1% for their job, 50.7% for purchasing medicines, 58.9% for grocery and vegetables, 7.4% to meet their friends, 3.3.% to attend a funeral, 2.3% to attend family function, 14.4% to complete their academic assignments, 14% to refresh themselves, and 17.5% to help neighbor/relatives. The lockdown impact scores were found significantly associated with age (P = 0.000) at 5% level of significance and with the course of study (P = 0.000) at 10% level of significance. This association can be attributed to most participants, being in their 20s. This also indicates that engineering students fear that the existing uncertainty may result in poor employability for fresh engineers.


  Conclusion Top


The present study findings reveal that COVID-19 and the resulting lockdown along with the already-existing issues has adversely affected the psychosocial status of engineering college students. Unemployment and underemployment was an existing worry for engineering students along with poor quality of education, not being market ready due to perceived low level of technical knowledge and skills. This worry has flared up with the uncertainties of lockdown. Despite being safe with their parents, a significant number of students are negatively affected. The higher rated responses such as privacy being challenged, do not want to see the same faces day and night, being expected to study all the time, and being instructed all the time, are of concern for the parents. More research studies need to be done on the psychological effects on students due to the COVID-19 situation. Further, the reasons for breaking the lockdown reflect on unpreparedness of the people for the lockdown. The government should have given time to store the groceries, vegetables, and medicines before declaring the lockdown suddenly. These measures could have prevented initial deaths due to COVID infections as the containment zones were spreading fast due to movement of people for these essential commodities. The message for these provisions may be delivered at doorstep reached the people very late which also contributed to uncertainty and unrest among masses.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

1.
Darling C, McWey L, Howard S, Olmstead S. College student stress: The influence of interpersonal relationships on sense of coherence. Stress Health 2007;23:215-29.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.
Gallagher RP. National Survey of Counseling Center Directors 2008 (Monograpgh Series No. 8R). Alexandria, VA: International Association of Counseling Services; 2009.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.
Larson M, Luthans F. Potential added value of psychological capital in predicting work attitudes. J Leadersh Organ Stud 2006;13:75-92.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.
Lin Y. Life experiences of dissatisfied science and engineering graduate students in Taiwan. Coll Stud J 2012;46:51-66.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.
Majumdar B. Stress and coping strategies among university students: A phenomenological study. Indian J Soc Sci Res 2010;7:100-11.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.
Mackenzie S, Wiegel JR, Mundt M, Brown D, Saewyc E, Heiligenstein E, et al. Depression and suicide ideation among students accessing campus health care. Am J Orthopsychiatry 2011;81:101-7.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.
Whitman NA, Spendlove DC, Clark CH. Student Stress: Effects and Solutions. Washington, DC: Association for the Study of Higher Education; 1984.  Back to cited text no. 7
    



 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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