Identifying Strategies Used by Students to Manage their Emotions during Online Learning
The coronavirus disease outbreak has disrupted the global economy on an unprecedented scale and speed and forced universities worldwide to abruptly adopt online teaching and learning. Although the concept of online learning is not new and that some universities possess the infrastructure to embrace online learning, many universities across the globe especially those in rural areas were largely unprepared to adapt to the new situation. Due to lack of preparation and many still being accustomed to traditional learning practices, the transition to online learning has taken an emotional toll not only on academics but also on their students. The present study aimed to understand the strategies students use to manage their emotions when engaged in online learning. Utilising a qualitative research method, we recruited 20 undergraduate students studying at a public university in Malaysia using the purposive sampling technique. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews conducted online. Thematic analysis revealed that some students experience fear, anger, and sorrow during online learning. These ‘difficult’ emotions can force the students to develop feelings of alienation and isolation and thus feel emotionally disconnected from their coursemates and lecturers. This is particularly due to the absence of in-person interactions compared to conventional face-to-face lectures. Furthermore, we found that the lack of verbal and non-verbal cues can cause students to lose motivation in learning. The findings of this study are expected to help academics and universities understand ways students cope with online learning and the need for their peers to help improve the students’ emotions.
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