Exploring Romanian Engineering Students’ Perceptions of Covid-19 Emergency e-Learning Situation. A Mixed-Method Case Study


  • Lidia Alexa Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iași
  • Silvia Avasilcai Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi
  • Marius Pislaru Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi
  • Adriana Bujor Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi
  • Elena Avram Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi
  • Letitia Lucescu Gheorghe Asachi Technical University of Iasi




online learning, emergency e-learning, virtual teaching, Covid-19, technostress, teaching culture


The Covid-19  pandemic is the most disturbing event in the lifetime of most of our planet’s citizens. The lockdown measures directly impacted many areas of our lives, including the educational sector, because locking down countries meant implicitly locking down the educational system. Moreover, what was first considered a temporary solution for an extraordinary situation began to look more and more like a medium to long-term general rule. Nevertheless, the questions are: are we all ready to move the entire educational process online and fully understand the challenges and implications for all stakeholders involved? This two-part research aims to provide some answers to these questions by identifying and analyzing the perceptions of Romanian engineering students enrolled at “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iasi (TUIASI) regarding the changes registered in the past year once the emergency e-learning situation started. The first part of the research was conducted between April and May 2020 through an online survey among 134 engineering students. It aimed at identifying the students’ perception of the online learning systems provided by their university, considering the significant speed with which changes were imposed. In addition, this research phase focused on students’ access to resources and knowledge to use and integrate online learning into their study routine. The second part of the research was carried out after almost a year of e-learning between March and April 2021 and consisted of six online focus groups with 36 students and aimed at identifying the main advantages and challenges students experience throughout the online educational process. The research revealed that although students are digital natives, they still have difficulties harnessing e-learning’s advantages and integrating them into their study routine. Another significant aspect refers to the changing role of the professor perceived not only as an instructor but as a mentor during a time of crisis. The study results can offer higher education institutions insight and valuable information that can be used in designing and implementing online and hybrid activities and classes that better fit the students’ needs and expectations in terms of e-learning.


Adnan, M. and Anwar, K., 2020. Online learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic: Students' perspectives. Journal of Pedagogical Sociology and Psychology, 2(1).

Al Rawashdeh, A. Z., et al., 2021. Advantages and Disadvantages of Using e-Learning in University Education: Analyzing Students’ Perspectives. The Electronic Journal of e-Learning, 19(2), pp.107-117.

Ali, W., 2020. Online and remote learning in higher education institutes: A necessity in light of COVID-19 pandemic. Higher Education, 10(3), 16–25.

Aristovnik, A., Keržič, D., Ravšelj, D., Tomaževič, N. and Umek, L., 2020. Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Life of Higher Education Students: A Global Perspective. Sustainability 12, no. 20: 8438.

Armstrong-Mensah, E., Ramsey-White K., Yankey, B. and Self-Brown, S., 2020, COVID-19 and Distance Learning: Effects on Georgia State University School of Public Health Students. Frontiers in Public Health, 8:576227.

Bączek, M., Zagańczyk-Bączek, M., Szpringer, M., Jaroszyński, A. and Wożakowska-Kapłon, B., 2021. PhD Students’ perception of online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Medicine, 100(7).

Bali, S. and Liu, M.C., 2018. Students’ perceptions toward online learning and face-to-face learning courses. Journal of Physics, 1108, 012094.

Bao, W., 2020. COVID-19 and online teaching in higher education: A case study of Peking University. Human Behavior and Emerging Technologies, [e-journal], pp.1-3. http://doi.org/10.1002/hbe2.191.

Bavel, J. J. V., Baicker, K., Boggio, P. S., Capraro, V., Cichocka, A., Cikara, M., … and Willer, R., 2020. Using social and behavioural science to support COVID-19 pandemic response. Nature Human Behaviour, [e-journal], http://doi.org/ 10.1038/s41562-020-0884-z

Boulianne, S. and Theocharis, Y., 2018. Young People, Digital Media, and Engagement: A Meta-Analysis of Research. 2018. Social Science Computer Review, 38(2), pp.111-127.

Berg, B., 2009. Qualitative research methods for the social sciences. MA: Pearsons Education Inc.

Calhoun, K.E., Yale, L.A., Whipple, M.E., Allen, S., Wood, D.E. and Tatum, R., 2020. The impact of COVID19 on medical student surgical education: implementing extreme pandemic response measures in a widely distributed surgical clerkship experience. The American Journal of Surgery, 220(1), pp.44–47.

Casey, N., 2020. College Made Them Feel Equal. The Virus Exposed How Unequal Their Lives Are. New York Times 5 March.

Castle, S. R. and McGuire, C., 2010. An Analysis of Student Self-Assessment of Online, Blended, and Face-to-Face Learning Environments: Implications for Sustainable Education Delivery. International Education Studies, 3(3).

Charles, N. E., Strong, S. J., Burns, L. C., Bullerjahn, M. R. and Serafine, K. M., 2020. Increased Mood Disorder Symptoms, Perceived Stress, and Alcohol Abuse among College Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic. PsyArXiv, [e-journal]. https://doi.org/10.31234/osf.io/rge9k.

Chung, E., Subramaniam, G., & Christ Dass, L., 2020. Online learning readiness among university students in Malaysia amidst Covid-19. Asian Journal of University Education, 16(2), 45–58.

Curaj, A., Deca, L., Egron-Polak, E. and Salmi, J. (Eds.), 2015. Higher Education Reform in Romania. Between the Bologna Process and National Challenges, Springer.

Dabbagh, N. and Kitsantas, A., 2004. Supporting Self-Regulation in Student-Centered Web-Based Learning Environments. International Journal on E-Learning, [e-journal] 3(1), pp.40-47. Available thorough: Norfolk, VA: Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE) website [Accessed 27 March 2021].

Dhawan, S., 2020. Online learning: A panacea in the time of COVID‐19 crisis. Journal of Educational Technology Systems, 49(1), pp.5–22.

Dospinescu, O. and Dospinescu, N., 2020. Perception Over E-Learning Tools In Higher Education: Comparative Study Romania And Moldova. Proceedings of the IE 2020 International Conference, [e-journal]. http://doi.org/ 10.24818/ie2020.02.01.

Edelhauser, E. and Lupu-Dima, L., 2020. Is Romania Prepared for eLearning during the COVID-19 Pandemic? Sustainability, 12(13), 5438.

EDUCASE, 2020. Horizon report. [pdf] Available at: <https://library.educause.edu/-/media/files/library/2020/3/2020_horizon_report_pdf.pdf?la=en%26hash=08A92C17998E8113BCB15DCA7BA1F467F303BA80> [Accessed 27 March 2021]

EU, 2014. Official Journal of the European Union, C 183, 14 June 2014, [online] Available at: < https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/a49a63c0-f388-11e3-831f-01aa75ed71a1/language-en> [Accessed 23 March 2021]

Goldbach, I. R. and Hamza-Lup, F. G., 2017. Survey on e-Learning Implementation in Eastern-Europe - Spotlight on Romania. eLmL 2017: The Ninth International Conference on Mobile, Hybrid, and On-line Learning.

Golladay, R., Prybutok, V. and Huff, R., 2000. Critical success factors for the online learner. Journal of Computer Information Systems, 40 (4), pp.69-71.

Grabara, J. and Bosun, P., 2014. Consideration on Online Education in Romania. International Letters of Social and Humanistic Sciences, 25, pp.59-65.

Grosseck, G., Holotescu, C. and Andone, D., 2020. Open Educational Resources in Romania. In Current State of Open Educational Resources in the “Belt and Road” Countries, Springer, pp.151-173.

Händel, M., Stephan, M., Gläser-Zikuda, M., Bärbel Kopp, Bedenlier, S. and Ziegler, A., 2020. Digital Readiness and Its Effects on Higher Education Students’ Socio-emotional Perceptions in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic. PsyArXiv.

Herbert, M., 2006. Staying the course: A study in online student satisfaction and retention. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 9(4).

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T. and Bond, A., 2020. The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause Review [e-journal] Available through: Educause Review website <https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning> [Accessed 27 March 2021]

Hosszu, A.and Rughiniș, C., 2020. Digital divides in education. An analysis of the Romanian public discourse on distance and online education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Sociologie Românească, [e-journal] 18(2), pp.11-39. https://doi.org/10.33788/sr.18.2.1.

Ionescu, C.A., Paschia, L., Gudanescu Nicolau, N.L., Stanescu, S.G., Neacsu Stancescu, V.M., Coman, M.D. and Uzlau, M.C., 2020. Sustainability Analysis of the E-Learning Education System during Pandemic Period-COVID-19 in Romania. Sustainability 2020, 12, 9030.

Iivari, N., Sharma, S., Ventä-Olkkonen and L., 2020. Digital transformation of everyday life – How COVID-19 pandemic transformed the basic education of the young generation and why information management research should care? International Journal of Information Management, 102183.

Iyer, P., Aziz, K. and Ojcius, D.M., 2020. Impact of COVID‐19 on dental education in the United States. Journal of Dental Education, 84(6), pp.718-722.

Johnson, J.B., Reddy, P., Chand, R., et al., 2021. Attitudes and awareness of regional Pacific Island students towards e-learning. Int J Educ Technol High Educ, [e-journal] 18, 13. https://doi.org/10.1186/s41239-021-00248-z.

Kapasia, N., Paul, P., Roy, A., Saha, J., Zaveri, A., Mallick, R., Barman, B., Das, P. and Chouhan, P., 2020. Impact of lockdown on learning status of undergraduate and postgraduate students during COVID-19 pandemic in West Bengal, India. Children and Youth Services Review, 116. 105194.

Kemp, D., 2020. Digital 2020: Romania. [pdf] Available at: <https://datareportal.com/reports/digital-2020-romania> [Accessed 3 April 2021].

Khalil, R., Mansour, A.E. and Fadda, W.A., et al., 2020. The sudden transition to synchronized online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic in Saudi Arabia: a qualitative study exploring medical students’ perspectives. BMC Med Educ 20, 285.

Kulikowski, K., Przytuła, S. and Sułkowski, Ł., 2021. E‐learning? Never again! On the unintended consequences of COVID‐19 forced e‐learning on academic teacher motivational job characteristics. Higher Education Quaterly, [e-journal], pp.1-16. https://doi.org/10.1111/hequ.12314.

Latchem, C., 2017. Using ICTs and blended learning in transforming technical and vocational education and training. Paris: UNESCO Publishing.

Lovrić, R., Farčić, N., Mikšić, Š. and Včev, A., 2020. Studying During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Qualitative Inductive Content Analysis of Nursing Students’ Perceptions and Experiences. Education Sciences, 10(7), pp.1-18.

Murphy, M., 2021. Concluding Thoughts: What Can(’t) we Research About Emergency e-Learning? PS: Political Science & Politics, [e-journal] 54(1), pp.188-190. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1049096520001560.

Muthuprasad, T., Aiswarya, S., Aditya, K.S. and Girish, K. Jha., 2021. Students’ perception and preference for online education in India during COVID-19 pandemic. Social Sciences & Humanities Open, [e-journal] 3(1). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssaho.2020.100101.

Naji, K. K., Du, X., Tarlochan, F., Ebead, U., Hasan, M. A., & Al-Ali, A. K. (2020). Engineering students’ readiness to transition to emergency online learning in response to COVID-19: Case of Qatar. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science and Technology Education, 16, 10.

Nur Agung, A.S.S., Surtikanti, M.V. and Quinones, C.A., 2020. Students’ Perception of Online Learning during COVID-19 Pandemic: A Case Study on the English Students of STKIP Pamane Talino. Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 10(2), pp. 225-235.

Obrad, C., 2020. Constraints and Consequences of Online Teaching. 2020. Sustainability 12, no. 17: 6982.

Odriozola-González, P., Planchuelo-Gómez, Á., Irurtia, M.J. and de Luis-García, R., 2020. Psychological effects of the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown among students and workers of a Spanish university. Psychiatry Research, vol. 290, pp.1-8.

Penado Abilleira, M., Rodicio-García, M.L., Ríos-de-Deus, M.P. and Mosquera-González, M.J., 2020. Technostress in Spanish University Students: Validation of a Measurement Scale. Frontiers in Psychology, 11:582317.

Rapanta, C., Botturi, L., Goodyear, P., et al., 2020. Online University Teaching During and After the Covid-19 Crisis: Refocusing Teacher Presence and Learning Activity. Postdigital Science and Education 2, pp.923–945.

Samantray, P., 2020. Teaching learning process in engineering education post‐pandemic. [online] Available at: <https://digitallearning.eletsonline.com/2020/09/teaching-learning-process-in-engineering-education-post-pandemic/> [Accessed 22 April 2021].

Sharma, B., Nand, R., Naseem, M. and Reddy, E. V., 2020. Effectiveness of online presence in a blended higher learning environment in the Pacific. Studies in Higher Education, 45(8), pp.1547–1565.

Shen, C. W. and Ho, J. T., 2020. Technology-enhanced learning in higher education: a bibliometric analysis with latent semantic approach. Computers in Human Behavior, 104, 106177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2019.106177.

Smith, H. A. and Hornsby, D., 2020. Towards a Pandemic Pedagogy: Power and Politics in Learning and Teaching. Unpublished manuscript, May 7. https://doi.org/10.13140/RG.2.2.29280.64005.

Stahl, B. C., Tremblay, M. C. and LeRouge, C. M., 2011. Focus groups and critical social IS research: How the choice of method can promote emancipation of respondents and researchers. European Journal of Information Systems, 20(4), pp.378-394.

Stavre, I. and Ilie-Prica, M., 2020. Higher Education and Globalization in the Context of the COVID-19 Crisis. European Journal of Education, European Centre for Science Education and Research, vol. 3, May - Aug.

Stoica, V. and Ilas, A. 2013. Rural-Urban Digital Divide in Romania. Digital Public Administration and E-Government in Developing Nations: Policy and Practice, pp.317- 333.

Tarafdar, M., Tu, Q., Ragu-Nathan, B. S. and Ragu-Nathan, T., 2007. The impact of technostress on role stress and productivity. Journal of Management Information Systems, 24(1), pp.301–328.

Tartavulea, C.V., Albu, C.N., Albu, N., Dieaconescu, R.I. and Petre, S., 2020. Online Teaching Practices and the Effectiveness of the Educational Process in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The AMFITEATRU ECONOMIC Journal, 22(55), pp.920-920.

Tian, F., Zheng, Q. and Chao, K., 2020. Current and future of technologies and services in smart e‐learning. Service Oriented Computing and Applications, 14, pp.1–3.

Traistaru, A. and Cotoc, E., 2013. Archiving, Keeping Records and Financial Accounting Documents. International Journal of Education and Research, 1 (11).

University of Bucharest, 2020. Efectul de domino în sistemul de educație trebuie evitat! (The Domino Effect in the Education System must be evoided). [online] Available at: <https://unibuc.ro/efectul-de-domino-in-sistemul-de-educatie-trebuie-evitat/> [Accessed 2 March 2020].



21 Jan 2022