THE LEARNING DIARY: STUDENT SELF-REFLECTION AND ENGAGEMENT IN TIMES OF COVID-19
Universidade Católica Portuguesa (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 15th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-9 March, 2021
Location: Online Conference
Abstract:More than 1.5 million students have been affected worldwide by school and university closures due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The main decision makers – governments, educational institutions, teachers – have gone to extremes to tackle all the challenges posited by this situation which stem from the shift to remote emergency teaching.
Thematic webinars for sharing methodological knowledge, various teaching resources including web 2.0 tools and apps, as well as practices specific to emergency online teaching have quickly emerged. Additionally, many institutions have resorted to applying questionnaires and quantitative studies to better understand the effects and impact of COVID-19 on education. However, little feedback has been provided about students’ - the target audience – personal insights and observations towards their learning experiences.
Within this context, it is our objective to identify students’ perceptions and feelings towards their learning experiences and virtual learning environments by electing the journal feature of the Moodle platform as the research tool for this exploratory and qualitative study. The practice of online journaling was used with a sample group of 19 second and third year students from Portugal, Macao and France enrolled in an undergraduate Applied Foreign Language course at a Higher Education Institution in Portugal during the COVID-19 lockdown. Research was carried out by means of content analysis of students’ journal entries placed at the beginning, middle and end of the summer semester, from March to June 2020. Students’ answers generated a large amount of data which was subsequently organised into four main categories: personal factors, logistical/technical/practical issues, the learning experience itself and student motivation. The main focus fell on student learning experience: students’ concentration, workload, newly acquired skills, participation in class, preparation for tests and learning outcomes.
Results reveal that online journaling offers valuable benefits not only to students, as it encourages reflective engagement towards the learning process, but also for teachers and institutions by providing valuable data regarding the strengths, weaknesses and challenges of remote learning during these times of crisis.
Keywords: COVID-19, remote emergency learning, reflective learning, journaling as a research tool, student perception.