Impact of Physical Learning Environment on University Students’ Academic Engagement in an Online Learning Setting during Covid-19: Evidence from a Sri Lankan University
Keywords:Department of Estate Management and valuation, University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka Engagement, Ambient attributes, Spatial attributes, Online learning, Covid-19
The restrictions imposed due to the outbreak of Coronavirus 2019 led to a paradigm shift in terms of the learning arrangements. In such a situation, since curfew was imposed in Sri Lanka, the universities commenced their all-academic activities using different virtual platforms such Zoom and MS Teams to continue teaching and learning process. Active student engagement is vital for the success of the process. However, evidence shows that the level of student engagement is low in academic activities in an online learning setting and the studies that explored the impact of the physical environment on this situation are rare. Therefore, this study aims to study the impact of ambient and spatial attributes in the physical environment on the level of students’ academic engagement in an online learning setting. Data were collected from a purposive sample of 238 undergraduates of University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Sri Lanka and were analyzed using Structural Equation Modeling with AMOS. The model fit assessment, path coefficient estimation and hypotheses testing were done at the data analysis. The study finding empirically validate the impact of ambient and spatial attributes of the physical environment on student engagement in an online learning setting. Out of ambient attributes, noise and lighting level were recorded as the most influencing factor while size and shape of the study area were recorded as highly influencing factors out of spatial attributes. The impact of air quality, layout and pattern on student engagement was found insignificant. The study finding broadens the components taken as physical resources considered in the Engagement Theory and provide insights for students, university officials, housing developers and policy makers on the importance of the physical learning environment for the student academic engagement in an online leaning setting
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