Online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Comparing Perceptions of National and International Occupational Therapy Students

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J Allied Health. Summer 2022;51(2):121-129.


OBJECTIVE: To investigate the differences between domestic and international occupational therapy students in their perceptions and experiences of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study of 151 occupational therapy students enrolled in 4-year Bachelor of Occupational Therapy (Honours) courses at the University of Canberra and Monash University in Australia. Students completed the Student Engagement in the Online Learning Environment Scale (SELES) and the Distance Learning Environment Scale (DELES). Both instruments have established their validity and reliability. An ANOVA analysis with bootstrapping was performed to examine potential differences in the experiences and perceptions of domestic and international students regarding online learning.

RESULTS: Statistically significant differences were observed between the scores of domestic and international students on the DELES subscales Student Autonomy (p=0.001), Personal Relevance (p=0.001), and Student Interaction and Collaboration (p=0.037) .

CONCLUSION: International students experienced greater challenges when learning online in terms of taking control of their own learning, connecting acquired knowledge with real-world settings, and building working relationships collaborative and interactive with their peers. Academic, technological, and social supports are recommended to build students’ self-directed learning skills, help them connect what they have learned beyond online settings, and encourage active and collaborative engagement with their peers and the instructors.


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