Material on “the pressure of insecurity”
Overview of material
The material in this section will problematize the myth of the ideal CBS student from the angle of the pressure of insecurity. It will be addressed from different perspectives – that of of students, a company leader, and Pernille Steen Pedersen’s research. Below you will find the following material:
- Podcast (in Danish), “Hvorfor faen snakker vi ikke om det?”, three students, Anders, Amalie and Ida, in dialogue with Pernille Steen Pedersen
- Video (in Danish), “Du er ikke alene med tvivlen”, conversation between Sarah Marcussen, HA(phil.) student, and Pernille Steen Pedersen on the doubts about the choice of study program
- 4 short videos (in English) for new students, “What I wish I had known when I started” by CBS students Anders, Amalie, Ida and Sarah
- Podcast (in Danish), with Morten Gustavsen, Managing Director of the company Roxtec, in dialogue with Pernille Steen Pedersen about what companies expect from new graduates and debunking some myths about grades and perfect CVs
- Video (in Danish) for new students, “En besked til nye studerende fra en virksomhedsleder”, Morten Gustavsen, Managing Director at Roxtec
Podcast user guide
For the teacher
Insecurity, for example as an experience of inadequacy, related to living up to an idea of “the perfect or ideal CBS student” and the demands of modern study life, has shown to be a present and widespread theme among students at CBS. As a teacher, you can use the podcast and the reflection exercise to help address the topic, break the taboo, and instead put focus on training compassion, with self and others, as a means to increase well-being.
If you as a teacher wonder, why you should use time in class to address insecurity and train compassion skills among students, the short answer is: if students dare to embrace their insecurities and it becomes normalized in the study culture that insecurities are welcome and common, it will not only help reduce stress but also increase students’ courage to ask questions, engage in class and their overall learning possibilities. You can use the podcast by letting students listen to it in class, in smaller groups or at home before a class, followed up by a session of reflecting on the content and working with it in groups.
For the student
Whether you hear the podcast in a class or at home, it is designed to provide insight into how study life can be experienced from different perspectives. It explores which things and situations that can lead to an experience of insecurity, what it feels like, how common it is, and demystifies the topic in a way, that can give some relief.
Podcast: “Hvorfor faen snakker vi ikke om det?”
In this podcast (in Danish), three students, Anders, Amalie and Ida talk with Pernille Steen Pedersen about insecurity in their study life. They are giving voice to feelings and experiences that they are not alone in dealing with. They are discussing how “everyone is having some kind of battle inside” and the relief of speaking about it, normalizing and acknowledging that different kinds of insecurities are part of study life.
Video: “Du er ikke alene med tvivlen”
Last year out on a run near her summer house, Pernille Steen Pedersen ran into neighbor Sarah Marcussen, who had recently began her studies at CBS. “How is it going with your new studies?” Pernille asked, to which Sarah replied, “not so well actually, I am in serious doubt about if I have chosen the right study program and I feel very alone with my thoughts.” This was the beginning of a conversation between Pernille and Sarah about the insecurities of study life and in particular about the doubts on study program. Sarah later chose to change to another study program at CBS, but the period before was full of doubts, worries of what others might think, a feeling of being quite alone in it and stress that influenced her health. In this video (in Danish) Sarah, now a HA(phil.) third year student, shares her story and discuss with Pernille the experience, lessons and the myth of the ideal CBS student. One central message is this: if you are feeling doubt in relation to your studies, know that you are not alone and it is very common. Sarah and Pernille encourage students to speak up, share and listen to each other – and to create a culture at CBS where its safe and easy to express insecurities.
Videos: “What I wish I had known when I started”
The four CBS students Anders, Amalie, Ida and Sarah was asked “what would you have liked to have known, before starting at your studies?” These four short videos are their answers to this question. They share some reflections they wish to pass on to new students at CBS.
Anders, HA(alm.) student, first year
Amalie, Cand.merc.jur. student, first year
Ida, Cand.merc.kom. student, second year
Sarah, HA(phil.), third year.
Video: “En besked til nye studerende fra en virksomhedsleder”
Morten Gustavsen, Managing Director at the Swedish company Roxtec, shares a video message (in Danish) for new students and emphasizes the importance of human values, emotions and vulnerability.“
Podcast: “En virksomheds perspektiv”
In this podcast (in Danish) Pernille Steen Pedersen interviews the Managing Director of Roxtec, Morten Gustavsen, on his reflections about new graduates, what his company is looking for in their employees and the skills that he considers most important for the modern work life. Together they address some of the myth around the ideal student, which also concerns ideas about what companies expect from students as new graduates.
Evaluation and Feedback of the Material
“Absolutely amazing. It is really nice to hear other students put words on things, that I think most of us experience. I am very fortunate to have a great study group, where I feel safe in sharing my insecurities, but I don’t think everyone has this. Therefore I believe, that there will be many who can benefit from hearing the podcast. And I would love to listen to more episodes” – student feedback
Developing material in close collaboration with students
Pernille Steen Pedersen uses her research and close collaboration with students to develop new methods and material to address issues of stress among students at CBS. She has discovered that an important step is to shed light on the different kind of pressures and potential stress students can experience during their study life by speaking loud about it. This serves both to normalize such feelings and experiences, as research shows it is very common and widespread, but also to set a vision for an environment where students can feel comfortable and at ease in talking about it. Pedersen thus developed a podcast format where she can share broadly from interviews and surveys of large number of students in dialogue with a small group of students, who reflect on the research and share their own experiences. The podcast can be used by students at home, in study groups, in teaching situations or at workshops, for example in the introductory weeks at CBS.
The close collaboration with student is central to this research project and the podcast format there is also developed and refined through tests and feedback from students. Initially the podcast “Hvorfor faen snakker vi ikke om det?” (“Why the hell are we not talking about it?”) was tested within:
- The student research panel of the project
- HA(psyk.) students in the elective ”Stress, skam og ledelse”
- Cand.soc. students participating in a well-being workshop
- HA(jur.) students at 3. semester in a well-being workshop
Student evaluation and feedback
After listening to the podcast the students were asked to give their feedback and to relate to three statements one a scale from 1-5 declaring to which extent they agree or disagree. The general feedback was very positive where many wrote that it is an important topic, something they can relate to, and that it is nice to hear that others are experiencing similar things. Many also suggested that it would be ideal for particularly new students, for example that it could be an obligatory part of an introductory week. Here are a few example of what students wrote:
- “Interesting to hear what one’s fellow students have thought, felt and experienced, even if we are at different stages in the studies”
- “Interesting and relevant”
- “Interesting to listen to and nice to know that you are not alone in all the things, that are not talked about”
- “I think it is nice to hear that I am not alone in having doubt, particularly in the choice of study, but also in one’s capabilities”
- “Good and informative podcast on a very relevant topic that everyone can relate to”
In one group 26 students were asked to rate in a questionnaire, on a scale from 1 (agree) to 5 (disagree), their view on the following three statements:
1. The podcast helps break taboos about what characterizes the “ideal student.” To this 50 % said they agreed (1) that the podcast help to break taboos, 38 % partly agreed (2), 4 % said either/or (3), and 8 % partly disagreed (4).
2. The podcast is relevant for new students. To this 92 % agreed (1), and 8 % said they partly agreed (2).
Feedback for further research
The evaluation and feedback from students also gives great inputs to areas that need further exploration in research. For example, a few students have mentioned that they experience a pressure from feeling that they need to live up to an ideal about being social – and social in particular ways. As one student puts it: “Good and relevant (podcast). I miss something about that the answer is not always just to be social. It can be difficult and tiresome in the beginning, even if you normally are quite social. It is important to remember that it will work out and that you are not abnormal just because you don’t participate in all events. There are many who feel they are abnormal or wrong, if they don’t feel like joining everything.”
Overall the feedback thus far tells us that for many students it is helpful to hear that they are not alone in experiencing insecurities and pressure in relation to their study life. That many can recognize it and to feel a sense of relief from knowing that they are not alone in it, is perhaps the most common feedback across all the material. This in turn stresses the need for normalizing these experiences students might have at different times during their studies. Another common feedback is that this kind of information would have been nice to have heard and been exposed to at the beginning of one’s studies. It emphasizes, what Pedersen suspected, that particularly new students might benefit from the podcast and other ways to communicate this kind of information that helps address some stress-related issues upfront and debunk some myths around being a CBS student.