25 Marchand and Gutierrez, “The role of emotion in the learning process: Comparisons between online and face-to-face learning settings”


Marchand, G. C., & Gutierrez, A. P. (2012). The role of emotion in the learning process: Comparisons between online and face-to-face learning settings. The Internet and Higher Education, 15(3), 150–160. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2011.10.001


In Marchand and Gutierrez’s article, “The role of emotion in the learning process: Comparisons between online and face-to-face learning settings,” the role of emotion in student success as online course participants was studied. Research suggests that those students who participate in online learning environments (OLEs) experience higher achievement than students in more traditional class settings. The majority of studies of emotions in learning has been focused on traditional, face-to-face classroom settings, and have given little to no attention to students enrolled in non-traditional classroom experiences. The question remains: Is there a relationship between emotions and the learning process, and are they similar or do they differ among students in different learning communities?

Key points

  • As previously mentioned, research for the relationship between emotions experienced learners in online classes versus those students in traditional brick-and-mortar classrooms.
  • Emotions identified as commonly occurring in student populations include: enjoyment, hope, pride, relief, anxiety, shame, hopelessness, anger/frustration, and boredom.
    • Those emotions that have been investigated with regards to online learning include: anger/frustration, boredom, and enjoyment.
  • Students who tend to be more adaptive in nature had greater success with overcoming negative emotions and experience greater success in online courses and they were also more likely to enroll in future online courses.
  • Also important is the understanding of antecedents and consequences of achievement as they relate to student emotions, and that learning environments that promote positive emotions can enhance student performance and learning.
  • Predictions of emotions that were studied were student beliefs and expectations about their own ability (known as self-efficacy), student task value (the perceived importance of the course, also referred to as utility value), and learning strategies employed.
  • Data collected resulted from a 10-item questionnaire distributed to 291 graduate level students enrolled in both traditional and online learning environments.
    • The findings were that the correlation between utility value (perceived relevance of the course) and anxiety was not significant in online learners, but was significant for traditional classroom learners.
    • Additionally, the reverse was found for the correlation between utility value and hope.
  • The finding that hope was not related to perceived relevance for the online learning group suggests that some other coping mechanism may be utilized in online environments.


Student emotions clearly play a role in the learning that ultimately takes place from their course, whether it be an online course or a traditional face-to-face setting. This is evident from the data gathered by researchers. Combined with student processes like task value beliefs, self-efficacy and perceived relevance, course-related emotions could then predict learning strategies reported by students. It was also found that online students tend to be more capable (with respect to online learning) than their peers who are more used to a traditional classroom. “The results suggest that student emotions play a key role in understanding student meaningful use of strategies to enhance learning of a difficult subject and that emotional adjustment can be largely predicted by domain-specific motivational beliefs” (Marchand & Gutierrez, 2012, p. 156).

Discussion questions

  1. What role do emotions play in the academic environment?
  2. Is there a difference between students in online formats vs. traditional formats?
  3. What is extrinsic utility value?
  4. What is the significance of the correlation between anxiety and utility value?

Additional resources


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