Background:

Understanding the learning experiences of first-year speech-language pathology (SLP) students during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic is essential to ensure that Academic staff are able to support and enhance the transition from secondary to tertiary education. An understanding of the student experience could lead to improved support strategies that could be beneficial for the blended learning environment that the University of the Witwatersrand will be entering from 2022.


Objectives:

This research explored the experiences of first-year SLP students in online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Method:

An exploratory mixed-method concurrent triangulation design was employed. Quantitative data were collected from likert scales. Qualitative data were collected from critical incident timelines. Themes were identified from both the Likert scales as well as the critical incident timelines using bottom-up thematic analysis.


Results:

The majority of participants reflected that their online learning through the pandemic in 2021 was successful. The themes that emerged from this year pertain to 2021 and the specific participants however, it provides an important insight that the students’ needs change during a year. As a lecturer, one needs to consider these evolving needs to ensure students have the support that they require to be successful in their learning.


Conclusion:

This research provided insights into the evolving nature of the support first-year SLP students require in the online learning space during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Keywords:

COVID-19; Johannesburg; educator; first-year; online learning; pedagogy; resilience; support.



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Exploring the online learning experience of first-year speech-language pathology students in a Johannesburg-based university

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