Means to Cope with Difficulties Related to Online Learning Experience during the Pandemic: A Focus Group Interview Study with College Students

Pyong H. Kim


Higher education organizations worldwide, including those in South Korea, are currently facing a major global health crisis caused by coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) since the spring 2020 semester. This study aimed at determining the difficulties that college students perceive in online courses, what strategies they use to cope with the problems they encounter, and what policies they demand the university to implement to enhance the situations. Six students (both undergraduate and graduate) from a university in a metropolitan area in South Korea participated in a series of focus group interview (FGI) sessions. The study conducted its sessions on October 11, 14, 21, and 22, 2021 in the university. Due to the distinct features of the online learning environment, students reported that they have major difficulties in staying academically motivated, suffer from fatigue and boredom, and have a hard time utilizing studying strategies. To cope with the current situation, the results revealed that students voluntarily form study group sessions with peers, and demand the university to provide them with a series of psychological therapy sessions as well as group study sessions. Educators and university leaders may apply the study results in order to better support their college students, so that they would be able to cope with these unprecedented pandemic-related problems, particularly regarding the online learning experience. Adequate supports provided to both instructors and students by reorganizing IT equipments and operating systems would result in better facilitation of online learning.

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Journal of Curriculum and Teaching ISSN 1927-2677 (Print) ISSN 1927-2685 (Online)  Email:

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