Chapter 8: COVID and learning

8.3.1 Communication and literacy during COVID (prospectus)

Emily Langel

English 102, March 2021

For my final research essay, I plan on using the topic of communication during COVID, specifically between students and teachers, hitting on certain subtopics that are involved with this. I changed my research essay topic from the first two essays because I realized that it would probably be harder to continue with that topic, and I wanted to explore more into this. One reason why I chose this topic is because it is very relevant today, for students and teachers all around the world, as a result of the pandemic. The way I am learning and the schooling for all students and teachers has been changed drastically because of the mandates and protocols that have been put in place for the safety of each individual. Despite being a generation that is grounded around technology and its advances, it has been hard in some aspects to have such a major change with teaching, especially when attending a new university.  

With being fully online for about a year, there have been a lot of changes made to the education and schooling system. Being now totally dependent on technology, people have been forced to adapt to situations that were only thought of as optional before COVID. Not only has the “classroom” environment changed, but the way people communicate with each other and the ability for individuals to communicate in person has been affected. As we all know, communication, specifically between students and teachers, can be a very important factor in being successful in a class. Being online, it is hard to have that personal connection with your teachers and classmates. This divide between students and teachers, individuals with their peers, and the use of technology has had many effects, some in which I plan to answer in my research questions.  

Communication in general is something that is necessary for all human beings, especially in-person communication and hands on learning. Lack of this can cause many problems for individuals. For example, the shutdown in March last year caused a lot of negative changes to individuals and their mental health. One research question I want to focus on answering is: How does online learning affect a student’s mental, social and physical health? I chose this question as my starter because I honestly think that this has been a struggle for many people. Staying motivated mentally and keeping up a social life, as well as staying healthy is hard enough in itself, but with COVID, it’s even harder. I wanted to look deeper into actual statistics that hit on these things and explore any universal facts regarding this question, so that I can hopefully include them in my essay. Another question, a more obvious one I want to answer is: How does online learning impact student teacher relationships during COVID-19? As I mentioned, having a connection with your teacher or professor can be a make or break in some classes, depending on what kind of student you are. Being online, students are missing the opportunity to have that personal connection and relationship, which more than likely has negative effects. I also have two other questions that I have been thinking about including as well: How do teachers communicate with students in a remote setting? 

How effective do things such as Blackboard, Zoom, Canvas, etc. work for student teacher communication? 

There are quite a few academic fields that care about this topic. Obviously, education and teaching majors have an interest in this. Some other fields, though, include sciences, medical field, physcology, communications, etc. I honestly think that because this topic is so recent and has had such huge effects on everyone, basically all fields could have some sort of interest in this.  

To begin, I think I want to include Gee’s “What is Literacy as a source in my essay. I really enjoyed this article because I think it does a really good job of explaining discourses and communication in literacy in general. I want to elaborate on this with my own ideas and including my own thoughts that I have gathered throughout the semester. In the beginning of my research essay, I also want to explain why I decided to choose this topic and how it can be important to not only people my age, but of all ages. I want to touch on how each academic field that I mentioned above relates to this topic and why they care about it. I want to focus mostly on articles that are aimed at college students, but I think it is also important to hit on the way this learning is affecting students who are younger as well. I also feel that learning in person vs. learning online, the way that we are now, projects a different perspective and discourse for each individual. I want to elaborate on this idea and tie it back to the content of Gee’s article.  

The two main research questions I intend on answering are: How does online learning affect a student’s mental, social and physical health? and How does online learning impact student teacher relationships during COVID-19? So far I have quite a few academic sources that I have already annotated that I think would work in answering these questions, along with more that I plan on finding on the internet.  

To begin my final research essay, I plan on beginning with an introduction on this topic of COVID and online communication, as well as sharing my personal experience with the topic. I think offering and incorporating my own opinion in my research paper will make it more interesting, but also allow me to flow into the rest of my paper more easily. I plan on including my own personal opinion on the situation that we are in and how it has affected my communication with students and peers. I want to focus on the idea of student teacher communication and how much it can impact a student’s work or grade, as communication in general is a very important aspect of development throughout our youth going into our teenage years and as we grow into adults.  

The first question I plan on talking about is: How does online learning affect a student’s mental, social and physical health? Looking through my sources, I think I have a good base and foundation to begin, but I can definitely find more sources that talk about this issue. I want to hit on all three “sub questions” that this one singular question asks. From my own experience and watching my peers around me, many people have been struggling with a healthy mindset and mentality through this rough and unknown time, especially with no answers, losses, sickness, etc. I think this is something that should be talked about more and educated to students more, which is why I want to discuss it in my own writing. I know socially, many people have been disconnected from the world and reality and have used social media, Zoom, Blackboard, email, other online applications, etc. to communicate, especially during the beginning of the shutdown. Being cut off from others, especially long term can affect the ability for individuals to communicate in person. With the same approach, I intend to talk about how it has affected physical health.  

The second question I intend on answering is: How does online learning impact student teacher relationships during COVID-19? For some courses, in order to pass and get a good grade, participation and hands on learning is necessary. At the beginning of COVID, obviously there was none of this at all. In my annotated bibliography I have included a few sources that talk about the importance of this idea, which I will use to address this question.  

I feel like my topic is important to discuss and talk about because it was something that is very present and real in our world today. I also think it is important to discuss because it is something that we have never had to deal with before, and to explore the effects of online communication, which is what my research questions and essay are structured around. I also really want to focus on the effects that this type of communication has on people’s health, mentally, physically, and socially. Many people around the world have struggled through this time and I think it is really important to discuss these things and to understand how to overcome obstacles that are presented to us, in case something like this ever happens again.  

I plan on following this basic outline, but I feel like I may change up some of my writing by the time I am done with the final draft of essay four. I say this because I tend to change things as I go in my writing and organize them in a different way, but so far, this is my plan for the final research essay.  

Annotated Bibliography

Trust, Growth Mindset, and Student Commitment to Active Learning in a College Science Course Andrew J. Cavanagh, Xinnian Chen, Meghan Bathgate, Jennifer Frederick, David I. Hanauer, and Mark J. Graham CBE—Life Sciences Education 2018 17:1cbe.17-06-0107 (

This article explains the importance of active learning in a school environment. Active learning refers to things such as: peer collaboration, experimentation, writing, problem solving, etc. in a classroom environment. It is proven that active learning is 10-12% more effective because students are actually engaged in the material that they are supposed to be learning. Active learning environments are designed to maximize this student-teacher interaction, leading to comfortability and trust between the two. I will use this source to explain the importance of student-teacher communication and interaction, and how this disconnect that is happening today (because of COVID-19) affects students. 

Fredriksen, Katia, Jean Rhodes. “The role of teacher relationships in the lives of students. ndyd103chap04 (  

This article by Katia Fredriksen and Jean Rhodes explains the importance of student’s relationships with teachers and how it affects their motivation, academic performance, well-being, etc. This article includes a lot of information from research that truly shows the impact of teachers on students, especially beginning at a young age. I will use this source to explain how online learning is affecting these components of students’ lives and how/why the pandemic is causing these things (such as motivation, academic performance, etc.) to plummet.  

Allen, David, Dawn Wilson. “Success rates of online versus traditional college students” Microsoft Word – 11761 (  

This source includes data taken by two college teachers from Fayetteville State University, Dawn Wilson and David Allen. They include tables and charts with results of their experiment. Basically, the point of their experiment was to see if students are setting themselves up for failure by signing up for online classes. They conclude that some type of student-teacher interaction is necessary in order to be more successful. This type of interaction could be face-to-face, online, discussion boards, etc., but something is necessary in order to be successful. I like this source because it uses actual data and I will use this to back up the idea that with more student-teacher interaction, it is more likely that one will be successful.  

Bolliger, Doris U., Florence Martin.“Engagement Matters: Student Perceptions on the Importance of Engagement Strategies in the Online Learning Environment.” L_1092_Martin ( 

This article talks about the importance of engagement in students and actually being involved when doing classes, especially when they are online. It includes information found from research explaining that collaborations between students and instructors is important in an interactive environment. It also mentions the importance of assigning students work that incorporates technology because of how developed it is and how useful it is for students in our generation. This source basically just adds onto the idea and importance of student interaction 

 Raj, Utsav and Fatima, Ambreen, Stress in Students after Lockdown Due to COVID-19 Thereat and the Effects of Attending Online Classes. (April 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: or  

This source elaborates on how much of a toll online learning takes on students and their mental health. Online learning has caused a lot of anxiety, stress, depression, etc. because students are unable to communicate socially with peers and their teachers. There has also been a lot of evidence that shows students lack motivation and that the decline in academic performance affects students in a negative way as well. I will use this source to explain how online learning affects mental health and social skills and communication.  

 Gee, James Paul. “What is literacy.” Negotiating academic literacies: Teaching and learning across languages and cultures (1998) 

This source talks about discourses and different identity kits. It elaborates and goes in detail about this and explains different discourses and types of discourse. I plan to use this source to talk about primary and secondary discourse and how this is incorporated into communication, especially between students and teachers during COVID.  

“Study: What Is Pandemic’s Impact on Students, Teachers and Parents?” Research @ Texas A&M | Inform, Inspire, Amaze, 7 Sept. 2020, Study: What is pandemic’s impact on students, teachers and parents? ← Research @ Texas A&M | Inform, Inspire, Amaze ( 

This website begins by introducing a woman named Katie, who shares her experiences of being a first grade teacher during this pandemic. This website talks about the virtual education and how new teachers as well as older, veteran teachers, were forced to use technology and to adapt as best as they could for themselves and their students, which wasn’t as big of a struggle for teachers who had been adapted to the technological advancements that had been incorporated into the class pre-COVID. This article also hits on mental health effects, which is one of my research questions focus, and also talks about the student impact as well as looking forward into the future.  

Strauss, Valerie. “Perspective | How Relationships between Teachers and Students Are Being Tested in Covid-19 Crisis.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 24 Apr. 2020,  

This article talks about students’ reliance on teachers, not only for academics, but for stability, comfort, etc. It also includes personal experiences from teachers that talk about how they miss their relationships with students and how it’s affecting them. It also talks about how there is disconnect with students who needed more help, and cannot fulfill this face to face guidance during the pandemic.  

 ABC News, ABC News Network, For teachers and students, remote learning during COVID-19 poses challenges, stokes creativity – ABC News (  

This website talks about the struggles of finding technology for students to use at home and how this was a big issue for many students that were sent home and forced to be completely online. It also talks about how some teachers have completely changed their at home environment to make it appear more like a classroom, in hopes to make it as close to a school environment as possible.  

Kuhfeld, Megan, et al. “How Is COVID-19 Affecting Student Learning?” Brookings, Brookings, 3 Dec. 2020,  

This website talks about statistics and also talks about how the switch to online in the spring of 2020 had a lot of negative effects and a negative impact on everyone. It also compares the students achievement during COVID and the student achievements pre-COVID. It also includes graphs of the comparisons, which is very easy to see visually. It also discusses some long term effects. 

Ginger Spickler, Bryan Davis and Jesse Patrick. Educators’ View: Students Have Been Resilient and Creative During COVID-19. Schools Must Be, Too. Here’s Some of What Our XQ Schools Have Learned, 30 Mar. 2021,  

This article discusses the different ways students have begun to learn and also points out that we need to analyze these things and elaborate on them for the future. This source also talks about how online collaboration has made it easier for some students to communicate with others in their school as well as outside of their school.  

“Student Mental Health during and after COVID-19: How Can Schools Identify Youth Who Need Support?” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association,  

This article will be used to address my research question about mental health. It discusses how schools should test and watch out for individuals and their mental health. It also talks about how there should be screening for students that are diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It finished by talking about what the next steps are. 

Mental, physical health has suffered during pandemic lockdowns, study shows – 


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