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The effect of online learning on communication between instructors and students during Covid-19 pandemic

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Abstract

Purpose This study aims to explore whether online learning has an effect on communication between instructors and students in a negative way, whether online learning affects students' productivity levels and to evaluate and suggest ways of improving effective online communication between instructors and students. Design/methodology/approach This study used is a quantitative research study which was conducted through a semi-structured online survey through a random sample technique. Findings Results revealed that the vast majority agree with the questions of the study. Students still prefer classroom classes over online classes due to many problems they face when taking online classes, such as lack of motivation, understanding of the material, decrease in communication levels between the students and their instructors and their feeling of isolation caused by online classes. Research limitations/implications This research studied the impact from students' perspective only as the sample was selected only from students. Originality/value This research reached the students’ point of view in a broader way which will help understanding the issues and provide effective solutions. This research suggested that instructors must communicate with their students and vice versa in more informal channels (instant messages online chat groups, audio calls, private video calls …) in parallel with the formal channels (online platforms, email …). Finally, instructors should encourage students to participate and study more by providing different kind of incentives.
The effect of online learning on
communication between
instructors and students during
Covid-19 pandemic
Mohammad Alawamleh, Lana Mohannad Al-Twait and
Gharam Raafat Al-Saht
Department of Business Administration, Faculty of Business and Finance,
American University of Madaba, Amman, Jordan
Abstract
Purpose This study aims to explore whether online learning has an effect on communication between
instructors and students in a negative way, whether online learning affects studentsproductivity levels and to
evaluate and suggest ways of improving effective online communication between instructors and students.
Design/methodology/approach This study used is a quantitative research study which was conducted
through a semi-structured online survey through a random sample technique.
Findings Results revealed that the vast majority agree with the questions of the study. Students still prefer
classroom classes over online classes due to many problems they face when taking online classes, such as lack
of motivation, understanding of the material, decrease in communication levels between the students and their
instructors and their feeling of isolation caused by online classes.
Research limitations/implications This research studied the impact from studentsperspective only as
the sample was selected only from students.
Originality/value This research reached the studentspoint of view in a broader way which will help
understanding the issues and provide effective solutions. This research suggested that instructors must
communicate with their students and vice versa in more informal channels (instant messages online chat
groups, audio calls, private video calls ...) in parallel with the formal channels (online platforms, email ...).
Finally, instructors should encourage students to participate and study more by providing different kind of
incentives.
Keywords Communication, Effective communication, Online learning, Productivity, Face-to-face learning,
Instructors
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
Communication especially in the education sector needs to be studied as communication
between instructors and students has the ability to improve the learning experience and to
create a positive setup. Communication is simply the transfer of information from one person
to another, or group to another. Effective communication is a process of exchanging ideas,
thoughts, knowledge and information in such a way as to fulfill the purpose or intent in the
best possible way. In other terms, it is nothing more than the senders expression of views in a
way that the recipient understands best.
The aim of online communication is the same as that of face-to-face communications:
bonding; exchanging information; being heard and being understood. Fostering a sense of
community in online classes will make the studentslearning experience more meaningful
and it can help them stay connected during the course life. When instructors communicate
with students, whether in a face-to-face class or an online class, they communicate for the
purpose of offering knowledge or having information to gain understanding and develop
relationships. Communicating with students in an online environment requires a little more
thought and planning than communicating with students in the traditional environment
The effect of
online learning
during
Covid-19
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
https://www.emerald.com/insight/2046-3162.htm
Received 5 June 2020
Revised 30 June 2020
Accepted 10 August 2020
Asian Education and Development
Studies
© Emerald Publishing Limited
2046-3162
DOI 10.1108/AEDS-06-2020-0131
because the online environment lacks body language. Instructors have the advantage of
using body language and facial expression in a face-to-face class to help them connect and get
their message across to their students. When interacting in an online class, instructors do not
have the advantage of using body language to help their students communicate. Knowledge
of communication weaknesses within online environments can help them decide how to
establish timely and appropriate communications, and how to interact effectively with their
online students.
1.1 Purpose of the study
This study aims to explore whether online learning has an effect on communication between
instructors and students in a negative way, if online learning during Covid-19 pandemic
affects studentsproductivity levels. As well as, to evaluate and suggest ways of improving
effective communication between instructors and students of AUM in online courses. Since
this shift to online learning is very new to most students and instructors too, there is a great
interest in this topic along the way of experiencing this change especially for students.
1.2 Questions of the study
This study aims to answer the following research questions:
(1) Does online learning have a negative impact on communication between instructors
and students?
(2) How communication between instructors and students in educational Institutions can
be improved?
(3) What are the problems that students face in online learning and does online learning
have a negative effect on studentsparticipation and their productivity level as a
whole?
2. Literature review
This research provides a framework on communication that takes place between instructors
and students. However, we will be focusing greatly on the topic of Online learning and its
effect on communication specifically that between instructors and their studentsincluding a
review on the following sub-headlines:
2.1 Communication
It is necessary to study communication, since every administrative function and operation
requires some sort of direct or indirect communication. The school administrators work with
and through other individuals, whether planning and organizing or leading and monitoring.
This means that the communication skills of each individual affect personal as well as
organizational effectiveness (Brun, 2010;Summers, 2010). It seems fair to conclude that lack
of effective communication is one of the most inhibiting forces for organizational
effectiveness (Lutgen-Sandvik, 2010).
Communication can be described as the process of transmitting information and popular
understanding from one person to another (Keyton, 2011). The word communicationwas
derived from the Latin communis,meaning common.Therefore, communicatingmeans
making common,”“making knownor sharingand involves verbal, non-verbal and
electronic means of human interaction (Velentzas and Borni, 2014). The definition underlines
the fact that no communication occurs unless a shared understanding emerges from the
exchange of information (Cheney, 2011).
AEDS
This act of making common and known is done by sharing opinions, ideas or the like. One
can have the exchange of thoughts and ideas by gestures, signs, signals, expression or
writing. People are said to be in communication when discussing some subject, when talking
on their telephone, or when exchanging information via letters. Communication is essentially
the exchange of information, whether written or oral (Velentzas and Borni, 2014).
Furthermore, the communication process also draws from many interpersonal skills.
They include talking, listening, watching, interviewing, analyzing, interpretation and
evaluation. Message recipients must be able to identify the intent of the sender, take into
account the context of the message, resolve any misunderstandings, decode the information
accurately and decide how to act upon it. Such skills are essential for learning, building
healthy relationships, building a sense of community and gaining workplace success
(Velentzas and Borni, 2014).
2.2 Effective communication
Great communication skills will add years to your tenure as a successful teacher.Dr. Jerry
Weast of Montgomery County, Maryland (Weast, 2008). Therefore, effective communication
must be a priority not a forgotten thought for great teachers (Hilliard and Newsome, 2013).
Effective communication occurs when a desired effect is the result of intentional or
unintentional exchange of information, which is communicated by different individuals and
performed in a desired manner. This influence also ensures no distortion of the message
during the contact process. Effective communication will achieve the desired effect and
uphold the effect, with the potential to improve the messages effect. Therefore, effective
communication serves the purpose it was intended or built for. Possible objectives may be to
make change, to encourage action, to create awareness, to educate or to convey some idea or
perspective. Good communication means talking and listening (Velentzas and Borni, 2014).
To succeed in their career, instructors need outstanding communication skills. Instructors
need listening, interpersonal, written and oral communication skills to promote comprehension
of the teaching results and the ability to effectively fulfill their responsibilities. Instructors not
only need to carry out technical tasks, they also do need to communicate effectively and
efficiently with internal and external customers. Developing effective communication skills is
an essential part of the ability for the instructors to succeed. To become a good professional,
instructors must possess highly developed levels of communication skills. Developing these
skills not only increases the potential of the instructors but will also improve the quality of the
teachers created. Advanced communication skills are important in all aspects of the teaching
cycle. Instructors must have highly developed oral and writing skillsto interact effectively with
supervisors, learners and collaborators. Communication skills are becoming increasingly
necessary for success in the organizational environment of our time. (Ihmeideh et al., 2010). To
increase communication effectiveness, schools need to gain knowledge of the value of the
responsibilities of the sender and receiver and adhere to the active listening skills
(Lunenburg, 2010).
2.3 Communication and productivity
Institutional productivity is a primary determinant of the degree of performance, quality and
effectiveness of an organization. This measures to what degree the desired results or
programs are accomplished by the students, instructors, groups and schools (Glomo-
Narzoles, 2012). In a particular institution, it partly defines the schooling requirements.
Theorists gave their views on factors that influence organizations productivity. For
Hellriegel et al. (1998) a community that promotes employee involvement; for Heneman and
Schwab (1985) participatory management, increasing employee satisfaction amid lower
levels of pay for workers; and for Arakawa and Greenberg (2007), constructive leadership and
The effect of
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Covid-19
an approach focused on strengths (Glomo-Narzoles, 2012). However, a successful institution
of higher education is one that achieves excellence in its triple functions that are teaching,
study, and community involvement (Okello, 2015).
Moreover, several studies reveal that there is significant correlation between institutional
productivity and communication climate. For Segumpan (1999), there were positive and
important associations between the job performance and the environment of supportive
communication, and the environment of defensive communication and empowerment. Pavitt
(2000) pointed out that the relationship between member communication and productivity at
work exists. Madlock (2008) provided a connection between communication, leadership and
job performance of employees and satisfaction with productivity and communication.
Clampitt and Downs (1993) related productivity with communication, which varied in nature
and magnitude (Glomo-Narzoles, 2012).
Every organization establishes its own departments and regularly improves its work.
Such organizations need innovative ethics in their management to ensure productivity in all
circumstances, either in good times or in challenging times. Internal communication plays a
very important role for a successful organization, as effective internal communication affects
the productivity of employees and the performance of the organization (Welch and
Jackson, 2007).
Motivational strategies and productivity of instructors are related constructs that affect
the quality of education. Quality education is the degree to which education is claimed to be of
a high standard, meets basic learning needs and enriches learnerslives and their overall
living experience (Orodho et al., 2013).
Quality education achievement definitely falls on the shoulders of instructors who need
adequate motivation to deliver the desired educational productivity. The position of
administrators and teachers cannot be downplayed, given that education is one of the key
factors that help to bring about rapid social and economic growth in any given country. But
concerted efforts are also made by the school administrators through successful and efficient
motivational approaches to ensure the effectiveness of teachers in the school system
(Getange, 2016).
2.4 Effective communication between instructors and students
The topic of communication in teaching is so generic that it has turned out to be almost
oceanic. Currently, the topic of communication skills development is very commonly
researched. A teacher in a society is a highly respected individual, and teaching is considered
the most important and distinctive profession. How effective instructors are is very much
linked to how they communicate. They express ideas, information and expectations in a
number of ways: by speaking, by gestures and other body language, and by written words
(Duta et al., 2015).
Instructors need to be mindful of how they interact because communicating effectively will
help instructors have a presence in the classroom that motivates students and encourages
learning; they might send unintended messages if they do not know things about their own
body language; new technologies provide new opportunities to connect with students (Duta
et al., 2015). Based on the literature review of Majid et al. (2010) and according to Moore (2007),
the teaching and learning process shall not take place without communication. Instructors with
strong communication skills can thus create a more positive learning and teaching atmosphere
for the students. On the other hand, someone with excellent communication skills has the ability
to influence others and positive communication strategies (Guerrero and Floyd, 2006).
For instructors, it is very important to guide students in their learning process; this can be
done using three steps in the evaluation process (Lambrechts et al., 2013). The first step, Feed-
up: give examples of what is expected during the evaluation; make evaluation criteria explicit
AEDS
for the students, be transparent about the assessment. The second step, Feed-back: give
sufficient feedback to the students, allowing them to learn from their evaluation as much as
possible. The third step, Feed-forward: give the students input on how to go further in their
learning process.
One study of Jurik et al. (2014) certainly points out the significance of communication
between teachers and students, Verbal teacher-student interactions and student
characteristics are meaningful for student learning and motivation.In this study, authors
reviewed how teacher questions and feedback related to individual student traits and gender
predict cognitive learning activity and intrinsic learning motivation. A random sample was
selected which included 79 high school physics classrooms in Germany and Switzerland.
Individual student traits (cognitive abilities, pre-knowledge, self-concept and interest) were
checked at the start of the school year to identify five student profiles. Four months after that,
a teaching unit was videotaped in the same classrooms. After the teaching unit was
videotaped, a questionnaire on cognitive learning activity and intrinsic learning motivation
was conducted. The results show that teaching skills should be fostered to improve teachers
in asking questions and providing feedback (Jurik et al., 2014).
Another study by Dom
enech-Betoret and G
omez-Artiga (2014) examines the relationship
among studentsand instructorsthinking styles, student psychological needs (autonomy,
competence and relatedness), and their reports of intrinsic motivation in the psychology
degree context. They concluded that psychological need satisfaction has a significant and
positive impact on student intrinsic motivation (Duta et al., 2015). On the other hand, Urdan
and Schoenfelder (2006) found out that learning success is treated in many studies as a
human characteristic or attribute and not as a result of how instructors teach (Shan et al.,
2014). Payne et al. (2007) found that more reflective and critical students are more likely to
show higher academic success (Komarraju et al., 2011). An empirical study by Yip (2012)
supports the idea that variations in academic performance between students are mainly due
to their different learning and study strategies; those strategies, in turn, affect the self-
effectiveness and efficiency of students (Muliro, 2017).
2.5 Online learning and communication
Like all previous ones, this global catastrophe has shown the consequences, even after a pandemic
has dissipated. Many countries have introduced such curfew and lockout protocols from the outset
to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic (Alawamleh, 2020).Educational entities have been shut down in
Jordan from March 15 to May 30, 2020. Therefore, universities have resorted to continuing lectures
online through websites such as Google meet. Obviously, this has an effect on communication as
communicating virtually differs from face-to-face communication. In this section we will be
discussing the following sub-topics to help us gain a better understanding of the subject.
2.5.1 What is online learning and face-to-face learning?. First, most authors define online
learning as accessing learning experiences through the use of certain technology (Benson,
2002;Conrad, 2002). Both Benson (2002) and Conrad (2002) define online learning as a more
modern form of distance learning that enhances access for learners identified as both non-
traditional and ineffective to educational opportunities. Many scholars discuss not only the
usability of online learning but also its connectivity, mobility and interactivity (Ally, 2004).
Hiltz and Turoff (2005), like Benson (2002), make a clear statement that online learning is a
modern form of distance learning, or an updated edition. Like many, these authors believe
that there is a relationship between distance education or learning and online learning but
appear uncertain in their own descriptive narratives (Moore et al., 2011).
Second, face-to-face learning is one in which instructors and students meet concurrently
and in the same location. Sessions are synchronous in the face-to-face learning process. As no
communication technology is required for a face-to-face session (Caner, 2012).
The effect of
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Covid-19
2.5.2 The difference between face-to-face learning and online learning. Over the last few
years, digital media have improved the teaching and learning experiences and have become a
common practice for university students and lecturers. The use of e-learning and of digital
media for teaching and learning has grown rapidly in just a few years (Paechter and Maier,
2010). In a comparative study, Dabbagh and Ritland (2005) examined the differences between
traditional and online learning environments, arguing that traditional learning environments
are bound by the location and presence of the teacher and the students conducted in real time,
managed by the instructor, and are linear in teaching methods.
However, the online teaching and learning environments are unbound and dynamic, using
evolving information and communication technologies, asynchronous communication and
real-time information. Online learning environments involve a variety of educational
practices and are often characterized by student-centered, active learning techniques
(Keengwe and Kidd, 2010).
2.5.3 The benefits of online learning. There are a large number of studies that consider
statistically significant positive effects for student learning outcomes in the online format, as
opposed to conventional face-to-face format. Some of the positive learning outcomes include
improved learning as measured by test scores, student engagement with the course material,
enhanced understanding of learning and the online environment, a stronger sense of
community among students and reduced withdrawal or failure (Nguyen, 2015).
Online learning often appeals to a large number of students, as it offers versatility in
participation, accessibility and convenience. Furthermore, online learning will continue to be
an integral part of higher education (Croxton, 2014). Whether or not youre keen on using
technology for learning, the fact is that its here to stay. Technology has become an essential
way to handle the education, training, and retraining needs of an expanding knowledge
society(Berge, 2007).
2.5.3.1 Convenience. It cites the convenience attribute as the prime value of online learning.
Students are in circumstances where they choose the convenience of online learning over the
facetime provided by the brick and mortar classrooms. The ease of online learning enables
direct communication between instructors and peers in the cyber class (Fedynich, 2013).
2.5.3.2 Participation. Ease of participation is an aspect of the appeal of virtual classrooms.
One of the many versatile aspects of cyber learning is the willingness of the students to
participate in a mixed learning environment, either asynchronously or synchronously. Online
education can take several forms, from blogs to mailing lists to courses management systems
such as Blackboard. Students can participate in chat rooms in real time or asynchronously by
posting to newsletters or forums (Morrison et al., 2019). By being equipped with all those
forms of communication, students are given the easier route of communication with either the
instructor or other students in the class. For communication purposes, the playing field is set,
and everyone in the class can participate.
According to Garnham and Kaleta (2002),Introverts, who are quiet in the face-to-face class,
really participate online.Kupczynski et al. (2008) found that student participation increased in
the asynchronous environment, as there is time to post messages, read and respond to
messages, reflect on responses, revise interpretations, and modify original assumptions and
perceptions...but in a face-to-face class this would not be the case (Fedynich, 2013).
2.5.3.3 Cost-effectiveness for the university. Universities now understand the benefits of
holding online classes, as the student population continues to grow. Combined with lower
online student withdrawal rates, universities found that online learning is very cost-effective
and efficient in many ways before online learning came to be possible (Steen, 2008). More
students prefer to enroll and take online courses, as this decreases the student and
universitys opportunity cost of an education (Dziuban et al., 2005). As more classes are
delivered online, enrollment is growing, thereby adding more money to the universitys
bottom line.
AEDS
Classroom distribution is an environment that can be simplified as more students
participate in online courses. Demand for classrooms continues to decline, as space is not
required as often as usual, thus reducing utility costs and maintaining them. Online
programs have little or no cost to educational facilities, transportation and associated staff,
Cavanaugh said. The importance of distance education also grows when considering the
wide range of online courses available(Cavanaugh, 2009). It is good news in these days for
budget cuts, in fact cuts in both the private and public sectors, along with decreasing
enrollment for some universities.
2.5.4 The problems of online learning. To date, online learning seems to have lots of
benefits for everyone involved. While online learning is having a positive impact, problems
need to be brought to light. Such drawbacks will prove to be considerable obstacles if fully
understood, expected and planned. One study carried out by Boling et al. (2012) found that
most of their study participants viewed online courses as individualizing learning and
limiting interaction with others. Students described feeling isolated from their teachers, from
the content of the course and from their classmates. Participants in these courses explained
how their online interactions were text-based lectures and several reading and writing
assignments completed. Many of those tasks limited the ability of the students to develop a
higher level of cognitive abilities and imaginative thinking. For example, one student, John,
stated, Most of our topics are generically produced as part of the course curriculum, and so it
is usually very simplistic in what is being asked or what is being given information-wise....
Another student, Pamela, commented that her course consisted of Just reading and reading
and reading until it fell out my ears, and then you had to repeat it back in a persuasive way
(Boling et al., 2012). Vonderwell (2003) described problems with students not engaging in
conversation with each other and considered the online atmosphere to be impersonal. One
student commented: It is not like a person to person interaction. Its more like computer to
computer interaction(Kear, 2010).
In addition, McConnell (2006) identified issues related to interpersonal aspects of online
communication. Often the students felt alone, overshadowed by other members, or reluctant
to publicly share their ideas. Murphy et al. (2001) drew up a series of case studies, in which
early adopters of online learning communication explored their practice and experiences.
Low engagement and interactivity, along with other problems caused by lack of immediacy
and non-verbal clues, were a major concern. Some students perceived the medium as
faceless,and there could be misunderstandings. The tone could turn unpleasant, leading
even to flame wars.These problems were particularly off-putting to the students who were
new to online learning (Kear, 2010).
Brown and Liedholm (2002) found in a study evaluating student learning outcomes in a
microeconomics course that students in the online format performed substantially worse on
tests than students in the conventional format while they had better GPA and ACT scores.
For complicated questions this disparity was most pronounced, and less pronounced for
simple questions. One potential reason was that half of the online students reported spending
less than three hours a week and none claimed to spend more than seven hours a week, while
half of the students attended each class in the conventional format, at least three hours a
week. Another study also found differences in time devoted to class or active involvement
resulting in differential outcomes (Hiltz et al., 2000).
2.5.5 Motivation and learning online. Schunk (2008) defined motivation as The process
whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained.Motivation can influence what we
learn, how we learn and when we choose to learn (Hartnett et al.,2011). Research shows that
motivated learners are more likely to participate in challenging activities, participate actively,
enjoy and adopt a deep learning approach and exhibit increased performance, persistence and
creativity (Schunk and Zimmerman, 2012). Contemporary views link motivation to cognitive
and affective processes of individuals, such as thoughts, beliefs and objectives, and emphasize
The effect of
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Covid-19
the interactive relationship between the learner and the learning environment (Brophy, 2010).
Studies that explore motivation online learning contexts are relatively limited both in number
and scope (Artino, 2007;Bekele, 2010). Existing research has tended to take a limited view of
motivation that does not recognize the complexity and dynamic interplay of underlyingfactors
and influences the motivation to learn (Brophy, 2010).
Motivation was more often seen as a personal trait that remains fairly constant across
contexts and circumstances (Hartnett et al., 2011). Many studies have focused on identifying
lists of traits of successful online learners (Wighting et al., 2008;Yukselturk and Bulut, 2007)
and indicate that intrinsic motivation is a common characteristic (Shroff et al., 2007;Styer,
2007). Findings from comparative studies between online students and on-campus students
also suggest that online students are more intrinsically motivated across the board than their
on-campus counterparts at both undergraduate and postgraduate level (Rovai et al., 2007;
Shroff and Vogel, 2009;Wighting, 2008;Hartnett, 2016). Although intrinsic motivation can
influence initial engagement as well as retention in online study, research that treats intrinsic
and extrinsic motivation as two separate subjects can provide an overly simplistic view of
both contextual effects and motivation itself (Hartnett et al., 2011).
Viewing motivation exclusively as an outcome of the learning environment or as an
attribute for learners does not consider that individuals may be motivated in any given
setting and time to a greater or lesser extent, often in various ways (Turner and Patrick, 2008).
Few online learning studies have recognized this contemporary person in contextas a view
of motivation and have done so only in a restricted manner (Shroff et al., 2007;Xie et al., 2006).
These factors together point to the need to reconsider the motivation for learning in
technology-mediated environments (Urdan and Schoenfelder, 2006).
2.5.6 The effect of online learning on communication. Online learning can also include
communication mediated by a computer. According to Hung et al. (2010), shy students appear
to be more interested in online settings than in conventional settings. In Web-based learning,
it is necessary to build opportunities for interactions and communication between students
and their instructors. Similarly, active students could make the most of online forums, which
might offer opportunities to engage fellow students and professors with deeper dialogue and
insightful questions as a technique. Asking questions is a way of getting deeper into the
subject and making the topic more comprehensible. Additionally, students should take
advantage of opportunities to collaborate with other online students to avoid burn-out or lack
of interest while learning online, use motivation and support to remain motivated. Efficiency
and efficiency of communication in online learning are an important aspect to overcoming the
constraints of online communication (Hung et al., 2010).
Also, a research conducted by Kinash et al. (2015) established that student attendance does
not seem to decrease when online lectures are given, and whether they experience lectures live
or online does not seem to affect the student achievement. Many scholars have argued that
face-to-face and online formats are only comparable when used for instructive information
which can be offered as a lecture. Students need learning tools, and intellectually rich spaces
for conversation, debate and deductive questioning. Moreover, the proposition that such
educational activities are better conducted face to face was strongly endorsed. Meanwhile,
educational researchers have also identified digital scholarship as a disruptive innovation,
enabling creativity and renewal in learning and teaching experiences (Kinash et al., 2015).
Bangert (2006) identified four factors related to student satisfaction in online courses,
including interaction and communication between students and faculty; time spent on task;
active and engaged learning; and cooperation between classmates (Gray and DiLoreto, 2016).
Another research correlated the expectations of students about a sense of community and
instructor presence in online courses with asynchronous audio feedback (Ice, 2007). They
compared their findings based on receiving text-based feedback rather than audio input from
the students. Students showed greater satisfaction with embedded asynchronous audio
AEDS
feedback as opposed to text feedback only (Ice, 2007). Students found that audio feedback
was more effective because the slight gap in communication was simpler, their instructors
were more worried about it, and they were three times more likely to adapt the material or
recommend improvements to this form of feedback (Cavanaugh and Song, 2014).
2.5.7 The effect of student engagement on the online learning environment. Student
engagement has been described as the level of interest demonstrated by students, how they
interact with others in the course, and their motivation to learn about the topics (Briggs, 2015).
There are several affective factors related to student engagement which include attitude,
personality, motivation, effort, and self-confidence. Jaggars and Xu (2016) found that in online
courses the level of interaction within the course parameters was positively associated with
the grades of the students. Through evaluating the level of student interest and taking into
account these affective factors, instructors will organize lessons and events more effectively
that will enable students to participate more actively in their learning and course work
(Jennings and Angelo, 2006;Mandernach, 2011). When students are motivated to do well in
their classes, engaged or invested in their desire to learn, and able to devote the effort their
teachers expect, they are more likely to participate in their education. The course engagement
extends beyond the traditional methods of measuring instructional effectiveness to include
student mastery of course learning goals, retention and student satisfaction perceptions,
whereas Consideration of the impact of instructional activities on student engagement
provides a more complete picture of the teaching-learning dynamic.Measuring student
engagement levels helps instructors to adapt their instructional practices in response to
changes in the motivation, participation and attitude of students toward their course and
educational pursuits (Mandernach, 2011).
2.6 Summary of literature
The development of good communication skills is an important part of the instructors
ability to succeed. Instructors have to have highly defined levels of communication skills to
success. Effective communication plays a very important role in effective teaching, since
effective communication affects instructorsproductivity and instructor and student
efficiency. How effective instructors are is closely linked to the way they interact. We
communicate thoughts, knowledge and desires in a number of ways: through speech,
gestures, and other body language, and written words. Instructors with good
communication skills will therefore create a more productive environment of learning
and teaching for the students.
Most scholars define online learning as accessing learning experiences through the use of
certain technology. Online learning appeals to a large number of students because it offers
flexibility in participation, easy access and convenience. However for most studies, students
identified issues related to the interpersonal aspects of online communication. Often the
students felt alone, overshadowed by other members, or reluctant to publicly share their
ideas. Another big issue was poor engagement and interactivity, along with other issues
created by a lack of immediacy and nonverbal signals. Several students viewed the medium
as faceless,so there may be misunderstandings and the tone could turn negative.
3. Methodology
This study is a quantitative research study through semi-structured survey which was
conducted online due to the pandemic of the Covid-19 which resulted in having lockdown and
everyone have to stay at home; instead of distributing physical copies to the students inside
the campus. A descriptive research design is applied by using the semi-structured online
survey for the purpose of collecting data on the effect of online learning on communication.
The effect of
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Covid-19
3.1 Data collection
Prior to developing measurement instruments for the research model, the literature was
searched for scales that were already developed to study the impact of online learning on
students and instructors. After a check on the existing validated instruments, some of the
constructs involved in this research have been employed in previous studies and scales were
presented for these constructs. However, none of the existing scales was accurately
appropriate for the research model: The Effect of Online Learning on Communication
between Instructors and Students. Therefore, new scales had to be developed for these
constructs. Following the standard scale development process advocated in literature
(Churchill, 1979) and based on the stages of measurement scale creation and validation
suggested, Devellis (2016) multi-item scale is developed and validated the impact of Online
learning on communication between instructors and students.
A sample of 133 students from the American University of Madaba are used, and it is safe
to say that they can be representative of the whole population selected. Simple random
sampling method is applied as the sampling technique for the study because it is the most
straight-forward and convenient method. As mentioned before, the instrument of data
collection is an online survey. Creation of appropriate survey items stems from previous
literature. Some of our survey items can be selected from the existing scales from prior
studies. Further, some items may be developed from discussions on the relevant topics from
different pieces of literature (Lewis et al., 2005).
Regarding the sampling technique, the research used probabilistic sampling; given that
positivism is concerned with reducing bias as much as possible, probability-based sampling
approach was deemed the most appropriate. This avoids sampling bias or selectively
recruiting participants. Moreover, the specific sampling technique used was simple random
sampling which means in every item of the population has equal probability of being chosen
(Sharma, 2017).
4. Analysis, results and discussion
This section contains the analysis of the data collected from the online survey titled Online
learning and its effect on communication,which was distributed to the students of the
American University of Madaba. The data will be presented in pie charts, figures and tables.
Also, this section will discuss the analyzed data and whether or not the data agrees with our
research questions.
4.1 Presentation of survey results
The survey started with basic (demographic) questions for the students to answer (Table 1).
Questions related to the topic of this study include How satisfied are you with taking your
courses online?Out of 133 students, 19 were Very satisfied(14.3%), 44 were Satisfied
(33.1%), 39 were Neutral(29.3%), 23 were Unsatisfied(17.3%), and 8 were Very
unsatisfied(6.0%) (see Figure 1).
The majority of the students who answered the survey were Satisfiedwith taking their
courses online with a total of 44 out of 133 (33.1%).
Followed by Which do you prefer taking, classroom or online classes?Results were out
of 133 students, 104 preferred classroom classes (78.2%), and 29 preferred online classes
(21.8%) (see Figure 2).
The majority of the students who answered the survey preferred Classroom classes with a
total of 104 out of 133 (78.2%) (Table 2).
Additionally, How has your understanding of the material being taught changed when it
shifted from a classroom course to an online course?Out of 133 students, 49 students
AEDS
answered with It has not changed(36.8%), 69 students answered with It has gotten worse
(51.9%) and 15 students answered with It has improved(11.3%) (see Figure 3).
The majority of the students who answered the survey voted that their understanding of
the course material has gotten worse with a total of 69 out of 133 (51.9%).
Category N5133 Percentage (%)
Gender
Female 70 52.6
Male 63 47.4
University year
First year 8 6
Second year 20 15
Third year 35 26.3
Fourth year 53 39.8
Fifth or more 17 12.8
No. of online courses
13 26 19.5
46 85 63.9
More than 6 22 16.5
Major
Business administration 57 42.9
Risk management 15 11.3
Marketing 13 9.8
Accounting 11 8.3
Pharmacy 8 6
Nutrition and dietetics 6 4.5
Mechanical engineering 4 3
Other 19 14.2
Very
unsatisfied
6.0%
Very
satisfied
14.3%
Satisfied
33.1%
Neutral
29.3%
Unsatisfied
17.3%
Table 1.
Demographics table
Figure 1.
How satisfied are you
with taking your
courses online?
The effect of
online learning
during
Covid-19
Followed by Has taking classes online encouraged your desire to participate more?Out of
133 students, 51 voted Yes (38.3%), and 82 voted No (61.7%) (see Figure 4).
The majority of the students who answered the survey voted No on the fact that online
classes did not encourage participation with a total of 82 out of 133 (61.7%).
Table 3 summarized the results for questions that were answered with the SA, A, N, D,
SD scale:
And to follow that According to your experience, do you think your productivity as a
student has increased?And, out of 133 students, 50 voted Yes (37.6%), and 83 voted
No (62.4%).
Figure 5:According to your experience, do you think your productivity as a student has
increased?
The majority of the students who answered the survey voted No on the fact that their
productivity has increased with a total of 83 out of 133 (62.4%).
Since the majority voted No, the following is some of the studentsopinions on the
matter: (Table 4)
Additionally, Do you think your instructors are being cooperative and more
understanding of the hardships we are currently facing as students?Out of 133 students,
95 voted Yes (71.4%), and 38 voted No (28.6%) (see Figure 6).
Classroom Online
0.0
27.5
55.0
82.5
110.0
104
29
Students who prefer classroom classesopinions Students who prefer online classesopinions
I can concentrate more in class if the lecturer is in
front of us
Online courses are more comfortable and we can sleep
more by not waking up so early
I was motivated to study more and share my
thoughts and questions with students and doctors in
classroom
Its saving a lot of time from transportation and
dressing up for university
We cannot focus like when we used to in class, each
time I take a course it seems like Im watching a
boring YouTube video, no motive...
Online classes have pros and cons, but in my personal
opinion the cons are more, due to many reasons for
example; bad Internet connection/bad service that will
enable students to enter the online meeting or even
listen to the lecturer, mobile/pc issues, students and
Lectures are not fully prepared for this online thing
Classroom classes are more interactive
Figure 2.
Which do you Prefer
taking, classroom or
online classes?
Table 2.
Students who prefer
classroom classes vs
students who prefer
online classesopinions
AEDS
The majority of the students who answered the survey voted yes on the fact that their
instructors are being understanding and cooperative with their students with a total of 95 out
of 133 (71.4%).
Lastly In your opinion, how do you think communication can be improved between
students and their instructors through online classes?
A lot of the students shared similar opinions; some students agree that teachers must hold
a Google meet for students as a replacement for office hours. The first Student answered:
Have office hours available where you can talk one on one with the instructor online.Other
students agree that communicating more with teachers outside of lectures through social
media sites can be very helpful. The second student suggested: Communicate with more
modern ways than email (such as WhatsApp), giving less assignments per course to give us
time to actually get connected to our instructors, for example I have on average 14
No change
36.8%
Worse
51.9%
Better
11.3%
Yes N o
0
23
45
68
90
51
82
Figure 3.
How has your
understanding of the
material being taught
changed when it
shifted from a
classroom course to an
online course?
Figure 4.
Has taking classes
online encouraged your
desire to participate
more?
The effect of
online learning
during
Covid-19
Questions Scale N5133
Percentage
(%)
I believe that online classes have negatively affected
communication between my instructor and I
Strongly
agree
32 24.06
Agree 34 25.56
Neutral 29 21.80
Disagree 32 24.06
Strongly
disagree
6 4.51
I am learning better now that I am taking my classes online Strongly
agree
4 3.01
Agree 19 14.29
Neutral 50 37.59
Disagree 38 28.57
Strongly
disagree
22 16.54
Interacting with my instructor has become harder in online
classes
Strongly
disagree
13 9.77
Agree 44 33.08
Neutral 32 24.06
Disagree 29 21.80
Strongly
disagree
15 11.28
I feel more isolated now that I am taking online classes Strongly
agree
40 30.08
Agree 51 38.35
Neutral 24 18.05
Disagree 15 11.28
Strongly
disagree
3 2.26
Do you agree that AUM has continued its educational program
online successfully?
Strongly
agree
46 34.59
Agree 55 41.35
Neutral 25 18.80
Disagree 5 3.76
Strongly
disagree
2 1.50
Yes N o
0
23
45
68
90
50
83
Table 3.
Strongly agree, agree,
neutral, disagree,
strongly disagree
questions
Figure 5.
According to your
experience, do you
think your
productivity as a
student has
increased?
AEDS
assignments weekly that rangers from lab reports to take home exams, and I spend on
average an unhealthy 6 h a day behind my laptop screen, and its barely enough to finish
everything.A few students agreed on communicating with teachers via e-mail. As the third
Student said: If a student is looking for further information from the instructors, they can
always contact them through emails.
On one hand, other students believe that it is the instructorsjob to ensure that the
students are focusing, and they understand what is being taught. Student4: Lectures have to
open the discussion more, students only ask questions that they do not understand what
about the lecturers start asking students or let them read the slide or participate, so they can
make sure that students are with them and concentrating with them, students will
understand the course in this way.On the other hand, a few students believe that its the
studentsjob to communicate by participating more in lectures.
Opinions of students who voted yes Opinions of students who voted No
Being at home helps me focus on my studies and
read more
I have become lazier and not in the mood to study
We have more time to work on our projects”“Im giving my bare minimum effort to study, and
mostly cheat on exams and quizzes
When you attempt an exam you quickly forget the
material but when you do an assignment the
learning aspect is more effective because students
put all their effort
To me, I understand more in classroom courses
because my major needs to be explained directly,
otherwise it will be hard
Theres no way it would increase with all those
assignments being given to us! Each course requires 2
assignments and 1 project at least
For some courses no, there are subjects such as
statistics, Math etc. Need more concentration and the
students have to be updated with such courses but
when students face issues during the online session it
will end up not understanding a word, as we all know
such subjects requires keeping up with the lectures
Online classroom demotivates, especially with whats
happening around us. Classroom classes engages
student to feel more productive
I do not feel very productive as I only work for high
marks instead of understanding the material
Yes N o
0.0
25.0
50.0
75.0
100.0
95
38
Table 4.
Studentsopinions
about online learning
Figure 6.
Do you think your
instructors are being
cooperative and more
understanding of the
hardships we are
currently facing as
students?
The effect of
online learning
during
Covid-19
Student5: Its up to the students to participate more through an open microphone;
instructors are doing everything they can to make us participate and even more.
4.2 Discussion of survey results
To begin with, while some students were satisfied with taking their courses online. However,
the majority still prefer taking their classes in a classroom instead. Half of the students also
explained that their understanding of the material being taught online has gotten worse with
a percentage this corroborates with a study conducted by Brown and Liedholm (2002) to
evaluate student learning outcomes in an online course, they found that students in the online
format of that course performed substantially worse on tests than students in the
conventional format of that same course.
Second, majority of students agree that online learning have a negative impact on
communication between instructors and students and the majority agree that interacting
with their teachers have become harder as well.
Third, the majority of the students do not feel encouraged to participate while taking
courses online, their productivity has not increased while taking their courses online and their
understanding of the material has become worse. Our findings agree with Boling et al. (2012),
which revealed that most participants of their study viewed that online courses individualize
learning, and limit interaction with others. Students reported feeling disconnected with their
instructors, the course content, and their fellow classmates.
Lastly, a large number of students feel more isolated now that they are taking their classes
online This goes with McConnell (2006) who revealed that a huge problem with online
learning was that students feel more isolated, dominated by others, and anxious about
presenting their ideas publicly (Kear, 2010).
5. Conclusion
To summarize, the study aimed to explore whether online learning has an effect on
communication between instructors and students in a negative way, if online learning affects
studentsproductivity levels. As well as, to evaluate and suggest ways of improving effective
communication between instructors and students in online courses. The data was collected
by using an online survey which was distributed to a random sample of 133 students from
The American University of Madaba (AUM). As mentioned in the results above, the analyzed
data and the information received from the students all agree with the questions of the study.
The majority still prefer classroom classes over online classes due to the many problems they
face when taking online classes, some of which include: their lack of motivation and
understanding of the material, the decrease in communication levels between the students
and their instructors, and their increased feeling of isolation caused by online classes. This
study found that online learning indeed has a negative impact on communication and its
effectiveness between instructors and students.
6. Recommendations
In Web-based learning, it is necessary to build opportunities for interactions and
communication between students and their instructors. Likewise, effective students could
make the most of message boards, which might offer opportunities to engage fellow students
and instructors with deeper dialogue and insightful questions as a technique. Asking
questions is a way of moving deeper into the subject and going deeper makes the subject
more comprehensible.
We recommend and encourage that instructors try their best to keep in touch with their
students through online office hours, as well as reach out to each student in their class
AEDS
individually if there is a sudden decrease in performance. It is best if instructors communicate
with their students and vice versa in a more informal way like through WhatsApp groups,
Messenger calls, private video call meetings and so on.
Instructors should encourage students to participate and study more by providing incentives,
at the end of the day every student wants to gain good grades and without the motivation for it is
hard to achieve, this can be fulfilled by giving extra marks through short quizzes.
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Corresponding author
Mohammad Alawamleh can be contacted at: m.alawamleh@aum.edu.jo
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The effect of
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