University of Oulu

Oittinen, T., Háhn, J. and Räisänen, T. (2022) ‘University students’ (dis)engagement experiences in synchronous sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic’. Digital Culture & Education, 14(3), 16–34

University students’ (dis)engagement experiences in synchronous sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic

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Author: Oittinen, Tuire1; Háhn, Judit2; Räisänen, Tiina1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
2University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.9 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Digital Culture & Education, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-06-20


In the past two years, student engagement in online learning situations has become a mutual concern for educators all over the world. The impact of working in online environments and using video and other communication channels on students’ learning experiences is still not fully understood. The present study addresses this question by drawing on students’ written reflections and interviews from the Finnish higher education context collected during the COVID-19 pandemic. It uses the qualitative method of thematic analysis to investigate students’ experiences of interacting in synchronous sessions and their perceptions on (dis)engagement. The analysis shows the importance of versatile teaching methods and enhanced participation, the use of web cameras and anti-distraction strategies for engagement. In contrast, some aspects, such as communication issues, camera-induced self-awareness, and distractions from one’s physical and digital surroundings, pertain to disengagement. The study contributes to a better understanding of the common challenges and affordances of distributed learning environments on student engagement, but also shows individual differences in how these are perceived. The findings have implications for online teaching pedagogy and course design in general and higher education in particular.

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Series: Digital culture & education
ISSN: 1836-8301
ISSN-E: 1836-8301
Volume: 14
Issue: 3
Pages: 16 - 34
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 516 Educational sciences
6121 Languages
Copyright information: © The Authors 2022. All DCE content is distributed under a Creative Commons open access license.