12/26/2012 11:09 EST | Updated 02/25/2013 05:12 EST

Quebec student crisis outcome impacts students' stress level, survey says

Students who were most diligent about their studies were also the ones most affected by the Quebec student crisis, according to an internal survey conducted by the University of Sherbrooke.

Five thousand first-year students enrolled in the fall semester answered the survey last November.

Many students were forced to restart their spring semester in the fall because the student protests. Classes for the fall semester were set back and will continue in January to make up for lost time.

According to the survey, 72 per cent of students whose semesters were condensed feel stressed and overwhelmed with the workload. Most also said they considered dropping out of school.

Fifty-six per cent of those whose semesters were left unchanged said they shared the same sentiments.

Those with concentrated course loads were seemingly more engaged with their work.

Only 30 per cent said they had a tendency to procrastinate, compared to 68 per cent of students with regular course loads.

Nine per cent also admitted to skipping classes without a good excuse, compared with 16 per cent of regular students.

Students are bored, professor says

According to Guy Bourgeault, a professor in teaching philosophy at the University of Montreal, the survey shows that post-secondary education "has become too easy."

He said students "are too bored" and that schools are not expecting enough from them.

"Students meet expectations," said Bourgeault. "If we expect them to be lazy, they are. If we expect them to work hard, they do."

Thérèse Laferrière, an education professor at Laval University, said the survey's results did not surprise her.

Laferrière, who also runs a research centre for scholarly achievement, said studies on learning and motivation show students with increased workloads have a tendency to be more engaged with their studies.

She thinks university administrators will make intensive semesters a common thing.

"In these circumstances, students dealt with the situation well. I think university administrators must be relatively satisfied that the concept was well received, despite the fact it's a more stressful situation," she said. "It might become common practice."

She pointed out that final grades at the end of the semester will be the best way to understand the outcome of condensed semesters.

Martine Desjardins, president of Quebec's university student federation (FEUQ) said she intends to compare the students' final grades.

"Evidently, when we have little time for hobbies because we're constantly in school, we tend to stick to our priorities," she said.

According to Desjardins, the survey's results should not be used as context to impose condensed semesters.

"In stressful situations, results are not always a given," she said.

Desjardins said she is convinced that students would still take part in the protests despite the sacrifices they had to make.