Factors Contributing to English as a Foreign Language Learners' Academic Burnout: An Investigation Through the Lens of Cultural Historical Activity Theory
Frontiers in Education
During the shift from face-to-face to online emergency classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, learners of English as a Foreign Language (EFL) were under constant pressure to familiarize themselves with the once-in-many-generations learning context. Based on the cultural-historical activity theory (CHAT), this qualitative study investigated factors contributing to EFL learners' academic burnout at Open University, Vietnam. The interviewees were seven students, two teachers, and two administrators
... recruited using a theoretical-based sampling technique. The data consisted of iterative rounds of interviews which lasted approximately 60 min each until the data saturation point was reached. The content analysis revealed six factors that impacted EFL learners' physical and psychological exhaustion, including prolonged online learning time, privacy concerns and cyber-bullying, teachers' role, institution's role, and support community outside the classroom. Also, teachers' insufficient preparation for online teaching and students' academic misconduct during exams were factors that created EFL learners' academic cynicism. Finally, participation in social networking sites' extracurricular activities, participation checking, and cheating in exams affected the last dimension of academic burnout, the sense of academic achievement. Based on this study, the authority, administrators, and teachers can take a more proactive role in supporting students in curbing their academic burnout during this unprecedented pandemic. The authors also hope that this study can lay the foundation for further humanistic research into the EFL learner's psychological world in online classes, particularly when each student's social and cultural background is considered.