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Online Learning Disruptions and the Impact on Learning Outcomes

September 18, 2020

Senior Emily Moore, a psychology major with a minor in sociology, spent her summer conducting research with Dr. Sara Goodman of the Psychology Department on the effects of text chat disruption on lecture comprehension in the virtual learning environment of Zoom.

Emily Moore sits at a laptop in her room.

Originally, the two were to pursue the topic of the difference in proofreading between digital and physical platforms. When it was clear that in-person data collection would not be possible, they were flexible and quickly shifted focus to this new direction. Moore shared how one of her biggest takeaways from her experience was the importance of being flexible and “going with the flow.” This is a lesson she understands is not only important during the research process, but in life as well.

The research intends to assess whether students allocate attentional resources to chat-based disruptions in virtual learning environments and whether those disruptions compromise learning outcomes. In addition, they investigated the impact of chat-based disruptions on metacognitive judgments of learning.

“I, personally, became very excited about this topic because it was a novel idea that had the potential to impact a variety of people in many different fields,” shared Moore.

Moore and Goodman say the topic has only become relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, and that literature on the subject was more limited and difficult, so they had to be creative in how they searched for and applied articles to their project. Currently, they are beginning the data collection process. Once that is complete, they will complete a manuscript reflecting their experiment and recommendations that will be sent for publication consideration.

With the transition to virtual learning and meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Moore feels that this research has the potential to impact almost every industry, including psychology, education, business, and many others. Moore hopes to someday work with children and their families, and feels that this research will help her to better support the individuals with whom she is working.