The Impact of Virtual Learning on Students’ Engagement in the Saudi EFL Context: A Connectivism-Theoretic Perspective

Ayman Khafaga, Hanan Maneh Al-Johani


Drawing on the connectivism learning theory (CLT), this paper probes the extent to which virtual learning (VL) influences students’ engagement (SE) in the Saudi EFL context. More specifically, this paper tests the hypothesis of whether or not VL improves SE in terms of eight learning variables: class attendance, class participation, the acquisition of the four language skills, learning anxiety, learning motivation, learning self-efficacy, willingness to communicate, and learning autonomy. This paper adopts a mixed-method approach, represented by both quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis and constituting two methodological instruments: a questionnaire and an interview. The sample consists of 256 EFL majors who are studying English at Prince Sattam bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia, and 14 EFL teachers who are teaching English at the same university. Three main findings are reported in this study: first, there is a positive attitudinal perception by the participants concerning the impact of VL on SE; second, VL increases students’ attendance, enhances their class participation, learning motivation, learning self-efficacy, learning autonomy, and willingness to communicate, and it decreases students’ learning anxiety; and third, SE is influenced by VL in terms of both productive and receptive language skills; positively, with regard to speaking and listening; and negatively, in terms of reading and writing. Pedagogically, the results of this paper necessitate reconsidering the efficiency with which new technologies are used in learning and teaching, and it is further anticipated to offer promising potential for the possibility of whether or not to completely depend on virtual learning in the near future.

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World Journal of English Language
ISSN 1925-0703(Print)  ISSN 1925-0711(Online)

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