Undergraduates' perceptions on emergency remote learning in ecology in the post-pandemic era

Emilio Pagani-Núñez*, Mingxiao Yan, Yixuan Hong, Yu Zeng, Sihao Chen, Peng Zhao, Yi Zou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly disrupted academic activities, particularly in disciplines with a strong empirical component among other reasons by limiting our mobility. It is thus essential to assess emergency remote teaching plans by surveying learners’ opinions and perceptions during these unusual circumstances. To achieve this aim, we conducted a survey during the spring semester of 2021 in an environmental science program to ascertain learners’ perceptions on online and onsite learning activities in ecology-based modules. We were particularly interested not only in comparing the performance of these two types of activities but also in understanding the role played by learners’ perceptions about nature in shaping this pattern. Environmental science programs are rather heterogeneous from a conceptual point of view and, thus, learners may also be more diverse than in traditional ecology programs, which may affect their interest for ecology-based modules. We assessed connectedness to nature by computing the reduced version of the Nature Relatedness Scale. Here, we found that online activities systematically obtained significantly lower scores than onsite activities regardless of the wording employed, and that altruistic behaviors were prevalent among learners. Interestingly, scores for both onsite and online activities were strongly influenced by learners’ connectedness to nature, as learners with a stronger connection to nature gave higher scores to both types of activities. Our results suggest that an effort to improve the efficacy of remote learning activities should be the focus of research about teaching methodologies in predominantly empirical scientific disciplines.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere8659
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2022


  • ecology
  • online learning
  • questionnaire
  • remote learning
  • teaching methods


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