Presentation (Project) Title

Visual Thinking Strategies in an Online Environment

Mentor Information

Catherine Wilkins (Judy Genshaft Honors College)

Presentation Format

Event

Abstract

Anxiety, stress, and depression are prevalent among college students, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. As a result of the pandemic, most in-person learning has changed to online learning, which inevitably creates new sources of anxiety and stress as well. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a tool utilized by many Art Museum educational programs, has been known to alleviate stress for various individuals. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of virtual VTS sessions for improving college students’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual VTS was expected to reduce feelings of anxiety, but to a lesser extent than face-to-face VTS sessions. Eight Honors College students were recruited to participate in a 30- minute virtual VTS session and their levels of anxiety were measured before and after the session. This data was then compared to data from a different study, which investigated the efficacy of in- person VTS for reducing college student anxiety. On average, participants in our virtual VTS sessions saw a mild reduction in anxiety, but this reduction was only 36% as large as the reduction in anxiety from in-person VTS. Further research is necessary to determine what is responsible for this difference in efficacy, and to determine how to adapt virtual VTS sessions to better serve the needs of individuals who cannot attend in-person sessions.

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Visual Thinking Strategies in an Online Environment

Anxiety, stress, and depression are prevalent among college students, and the current COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. As a result of the pandemic, most in-person learning has changed to online learning, which inevitably creates new sources of anxiety and stress as well. Visual Thinking Strategies (VTS), a tool utilized by many Art Museum educational programs, has been known to alleviate stress for various individuals. In this study, we investigated the efficacy of virtual VTS sessions for improving college students’ mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic. The virtual VTS was expected to reduce feelings of anxiety, but to a lesser extent than face-to-face VTS sessions. Eight Honors College students were recruited to participate in a 30- minute virtual VTS session and their levels of anxiety were measured before and after the session. This data was then compared to data from a different study, which investigated the efficacy of in- person VTS for reducing college student anxiety. On average, participants in our virtual VTS sessions saw a mild reduction in anxiety, but this reduction was only 36% as large as the reduction in anxiety from in-person VTS. Further research is necessary to determine what is responsible for this difference in efficacy, and to determine how to adapt virtual VTS sessions to better serve the needs of individuals who cannot attend in-person sessions.