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Title: 'Virtual shock' : adult students' perceptions of their emotional experience on an online learning undergraduate degree at a regional Caribbean university
Author: Clarke, Vilma
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 9994
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2015
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This phenomenological case study focuses on the emotional experiences of adult learners on an online undergraduate degree course at a regional Caribbean university. It examines four major elements as they relate to online learning environments: perceptions of the learning environment; perceptions of the learning process; descriptions of emotional experiences; and manifestations of behavioural outcomes. Online learning as an instructional strategy for adult learners has gained global acceptance because it can accommodate those who work, and have family responsibilities and other social obligations. A qualitative design was used to facilitate the collection of data, using interviews as the primary instrument and documentary sources as secondary data. A special effort was made to retain the voice of the ten participants, all full-time employees pursuing undergraduate degrees at the University of the West Indies Open Campus. It was a purposeful sample for a phenomenological study. The findings show that both positive and negative emotions formed part of the learning experience in online learning and also influenced the learning. Negative emotions did not necessarily impede learning, as is implied by many studies. In this learning environment, despite the presence of many negative emotions and little support from instructors, the majority of participants survived the learning experience and some achieved good learning outcomes; for others, the consequences were failure, repeats and low grade point averages. The findings were that positive emotions encouraged students to persist, but that negative emotions did not necessarily deter them. In fact, the majority of the students remained highly motivated and seemed to strive even harder. This suggests that, more than being an impediment, negative emotions lead to positive outcomes, yet this is not automatic. It depends primarily on what the students bring to the learning environment; that is, a capacity to survive, determination, persistence, willingness to take hard knocks and not to give up, and openness to new experiences. Those students who survived were distinguished by their attitudes to the realities of online learning; they developed strategies to cope as they focused on their short- and long-term goals. It is recommended that instructors use diverse technology applications in delivery episodes to provide opportunities for social interaction and stimulation. Online collaborative learning (OCL) based on constructivism could provide a framework for adult learners, especially in developing nations where resources are limited, in order to avoid the emotional shock of having to adjust to the new online environments. This study adds to the ongoing empirical and theoretical contributions to the emotional dynamics of adult learning in online environments in higher education.
Supervisor: Lumby, Jacky Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available