Opinion Piece

Commencing this research project, I was very curious with how students were going to adapt to the transition of online learning. It was a sudden change many weren’t prepared for that had raised a lot of questions and concerns surrounding this new way of learning. I had discussions with many of my friends who were in the same situation and found they all had similar questions and thoughts about how they were going to adapt, whether they would still be productive with learning from home and questioning their motivations towards online learning. This then led to me wanting to further investigate on this transition to gain an understanding of other student’s perspectives, how this will impact their productiveness and motivation and what are they doing to help improve and adapt to this new way of learning. 

Chart 1. Chart2.

For my research project, I conducted a survey at the University of Wollongong. The sample was of 25 current BCM212 students who had completed the online survey. It was conveyed in chart 1 by 48% of the participants that the transition to online learning was a negative experience. The following question regarding whether they would like online learning to continue, in chart 2, 56% of the participants expressed not wanting online learning to continue for the rest of the year.

Through the survey, the strongest finding that stood out to me was around the participants response to whether they were finding it difficult to feel motivated when balancing work, life and university online studying with 56% of them agreeing. This was very similar to the research study conducted by Hewson (2018) based on student’s perceptions of their online courses, with 68% of the students feeling their motivation was affected due to concerns of work/ life challenges that at times got in the way of them focusing on their online courses. These findings demonstrate online learning from home can be difficult to manage as other factors of life can often create barriers that inhibit one’s motivation. 

The physicality of going to University and having organised learning time was no longer available, it was up to the students to engage, participate and motivate in order to achieve self-regulated learning. In regard to 2 separate questions, 88% of the participants had admitted they felt more productive and motivated when physically going to attend classes. The follow up questions had addressed how they were keeping themselves productive and motivated during this time of online learning. The participants addressed the question of keeping productive by making themselves timetables, to do lists, calendars, schedules, writing deadlines for assessments or having an organisation diary. When addressing their motivation, the participants were split into two distinct categories, the first being lifestyle and balance in their daily lives through having a good sleep, exercising, getting themselves ready for the day and eating healthy. The second category was focused more on motivation through fear of failure, being determined to do well in their current subjects and finishing their degree on time. These findings coincide with a statement made by Yates (2004) “motivation is the internal power that drives individuals to act in order to satisfy their desire.” This was further investigated by Azrien and Adnan (2006) of the association between components of motivation and self-regulated learning. The study found that most of the motivational factors are significantly associated with the components of self-regulated learning. Through the findings, it is evident the participants understand that in order to engage in the online learning, they have to motivate themselves in order to achieve what they need to complete. 

This then leads to the second part of my study surrounding what students could implement in order to be productive and motivated. Im & Kang (2019) study based in Korea on students participating in online learning, focused on the factors which impact students and their learning achievements. One of the factors specifically considered was the Orientation of their goal achievements. It explained the individual learner’s approach, participation and attitude towards learning varied due to each student’s achievement goal orientation. Achievement goal orientation focuses how individual learners think about their motivations and attitude towards online learning. In the survey, I had asked the participants whether they had set goals towards their Uni learning with 17 out of 25 of the responses stating they had indeed. Each of the individuals who had set themselves goals, had varied in the size with some individuals setting small goals for each day and others having end goals they were striving towards to achieve and complete. These individuals had also stated they often set themselves goals in order to keep themselves motivated. The statements made in the survey were very similar to the conclusion of the study by Im & Kang (2019) as the students who had set these goals for themselves and kept themselves motivated by their goals, lead to positive achievements and outcomes to their participation in online learning. 

Furthermore, I wanted to identify whether students had set themselves routines in order to achieve their goals and provide themselves with motivation. Although majority of the participants had a way they had kept themselves productive and motivated or had goals to achieve, only 48% had confirmed they had a routine set for themselves. Salazar (2012) explains when an individual has identified their goal, they should then establish a routine that will help to achieve their goal. The participants that confirmed had a routine stated it made them feel more motivated and less overwhelmed in these uncertain times, helping them to reduce their stress, set positive habits and provide a sense of accomplishment.  

With the research I have conducted, there are limitations to this research project that are important to note, including the sample size and the diversity of the sample. Through my research and reading the responses of the survey, I feel I have gained a lot of insight into students transition into online learning with majority of students admitting they are less motivated and productive but in one way or another, have implemented ways to keep themselves motivated and productive during online learning. My research has also demonstrated the participants who had set themselves goals and routines have been affective through the process of online learning as it has helped with maintaining motivation.

Bibliography

Azrien, M., & Adnan, M. (2006). Motivation, learning self-regulation arrangements and academic achievements in Arabic language studies among university students in Malaysia. (Master of Education Project Paper), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi. 

Hewson, ERF. 2018. Students’ Emotional Engagement, Motivation and Behaviour Over the Life of an Online Course: Reflections on Two Market Research Case Studies. Journal of Interactive Media in Education.

Im, T. and Kang, M., 2019. Structural Relationships of Factors Which Impact on Learner Achievement in Online Learning Environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 20(1).

Salazar, M. J. (2012) ‘Home–School Collaboration for Embedding Individualized Goals in Daily Routines’, Young Exceptional Children.

Yates, L. (2004). What does good education research look like?: Situating a field and its practices. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).

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