The impact of emotions on student participation in an assessed, online, collaborative activity

Hilliard, Jake; Kear, Karen; Donelan, Helen and Heaney, Caroline (2020). The impact of emotions on student participation in an assessed, online, collaborative activity. In: European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) Proceedings: Human and Artificial Intelligence for the Society of the Future, European Distance and E-Learning Network, Budapest, Hungary pp. 143–152.



There is growing recognition of the importance of emotions in academic online learning contexts. However, there is still little known about the role of emotions in social and collaborative online learning settings, especially the relationship between emotions and student participation. To explore this relationship, this study used a prospective longitudinal research design to follow 46 distance learning students throughout a 3-week assessed, online, collaborative activity. This approach allowed the fluctuating and dynamic aspects of emotions to be explored as well as the relationship between emotions and student participation in the collaborative activity. Self-report data were gathered using a semistructured online diary at five time points throughout the task (once at the start of the collaborative activity, three times during the activity, and the final entry after the activity had finished). Findings revealed that learners generally perceived pleasant emotions (such as relief, satisfaction and enjoyment) to have positive impacts, or no impact, on participation, whereas unpleasant emotions (such as anxiety, frustration, and disappointment) were generally perceived to have negative impacts, or no impact, on participation. Interestingly, however, anxiety, and to a smaller extent frustration, were perceived by a number of students to have positive impacts during the activity. To conclude this paper, implications for educators are highlighted.

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