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Teachers' Emotions in the Transition to Online Teaching: An Article Review

Emotions have a powerful effect on both students and teachers. Teachers' positive and negative emotions impact student motivation, learning, memory, problem-solving, etc. They also influence teachers’ professional and personal lives and drive decisions about curriculum, planning, etc. (Naylor & Nyanjom, 2020). In the past year, many teachers have been forced to change their entire teaching approach to an online format due to a global pandemic. Though research has addressed the emotional impact on students, little attention has been paid to the emotional response of educators (Naylor & Nyanjom, 2020). The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate teachers’ emotional responses to online teaching to provide recommendations on supporting them through policies and best practices.

Acknowledging that limited available research on the emotions of online teaching, the researchers examined the nature of emotions in general, the impact of those emotions on online teaching, and the support structures available to the teachers. Four studies from 2010-2014 were examined, revealing both positive and negative emotions. Although some findings exposed positive emotions such as teachers reporting the feelings of being energized and motivated, the most recent study referenced, Bennett’s 2014 study, uncovered overwhelming negative emotional responses. These emotional responses were categorized under three themes: fear, embarrassment, and frustration (Bennett, 2014 as cited in Naylor & Nyanjom, 2020). The authors also reviewed literature related to the impact of those emotions noting that the impact of emotions, either positive or negative, has the potential to constrain or facilitate the transition to online learning (Naylor & Nyanjom, 2020). Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the emotions of instructors in the transition to online learning and the support structures offered to them. The three guiding questions were:

Q1. How do HE educators describe their initial emotional response to online teaching?

Q2. What emotional responses do HE educators experience during the transition to online teaching?

Q3. What institutional support is offered to HE educators as they transition to online teaching?

The qualitative study leveraged the Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), an approach aimed at gaining detailed insight into the emotional experiences of the teachers as they transitioned to online teaching. According to Naylor and Nyanjom (2020), an important advantage

of IPA is the ability to identify patterns in their stories and interpret the meaning to reach their goal of understanding their experiences.

The participant pool was intentionally chosen to include twenty online instructors from an Australian University across a variety of subject areas. Each subject, protected by a confidentiality coding system, was interviewed for one hour. The interview questions were open-ended and posed in a way that prompted them to speak candidly about their feelings about teaching online. Each interview was recorded and transcribed for analysis (Naylor & Nyanjom, 2020). In accordance with the IPA methodology, each data set was looked at individually before proceeding to the next. Categories of emotions were constructed, and the causes of those emotions were extrapolated. Their findings were then organized by themes and outliers removed. To ensure the quality of the study, a detailed description of how the themes were derived was included (Naylor & Nyanjom, 2020).

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