Exploring the factors of time and space for undergraduate students studying and writing in Covid times

The fallout from COVID related restrictions continues to frame the way students experience and manage studying and writing for assessment. Closing down the physical infrastructure means limiting the benefits of being on campus including how students use time on campus to engage in self-study (see Burke et al., 2017). Without being able to provide students with places to retreat to (Mehta and Cox 2019), those who need access to campus space and its resources will be especially hard hit. This paper reports on a small-scale piece of research with the remit to capture these types of students’ experiences involving studying and writing remotely as a result of the pandemic. Guiding the research are the objectives of: (1) To examine the effects of limited access to campus in terms of student study and writing experiences during COVID; (2) To analyse how space contributes to effective studying and writing from the student point of view; and (3) To reveal possible pressures impacting upon writing and study time that have arisen for students studying and writing in more remote ways. The research uses semi-structured online interviews alongside photo elicitation techniques and a thematic data analysis approach. The data is discussed using Bakhtin’s (1981) notion of chronotope to foreground time and space in relation to how undergraduate students account for their studying and writing for assessment experiences during COVID conditions. In doing so, the research places a spotlight on issues to do with digital poverty that have become much more topical in the latest lockdown, but often to the reserve of the difficulties faced by schoolchildren. More specifically, the research contributes to student equity research by shedding light on the precariousness of student study conditions and the amplification of time and space factors during the pandemic.