Chinese Students’ Identity Construction and Negotiation during Emergency Remote Teaching: A Case Study from Wuhan

Zilin WANG, Lucas KOHNKE, Di ZOU

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, higher education institutions have been forced to significantly alter how they deliver content (Moorhouse & Kohnke, 2021a). To continue with teaching and learning but minimize person-to-person contact, many have adopted emergency remote teaching (ERT) (Hodges et al., 2020) and created flexible learning environments (e.g., HyFlex) to facilitate language learning (Kohnke & Moorhouse, 2021). The Chinese Ministry of Education implemented a policy known as „Suspending Classes Without Stopping Learning‟ to „provide rich, diverse, selectable, high-quality online resources for all students across the country‟ (Ministry of Education of the People‟s Republic of China [MoE], 2020a). In April 2020, ERT was implemented at 1,454 higher education institutions in mainland China, affecting 1.18 million students (MoE, 2020b). It comprised video conferencing software, recorded teaching presentations, online discussion forums and social media (Yan et al., 2021). This new learning format inevitably disrupted teaching and learning (Sequeira & Dacey, 2020) because teachers and students constantly had to negotiate their identities in the unfamiliar educational environment. Students‟ identities in classroom contexts are highly complex, dynamic and diverse (Moya, 2006). Furthermore, they develop through interactions that are affected by their backgrounds and culture (Cobb & Hodge, 2010). Therefore, exploring the identity negotiation of second-language (L2) students participating in ERT is vital.

This qualitative preliminary case study aims to contribute to the existing literature about COVID-19 ERT instruction by shedding light on the different identities‟ students experienced during the suspension of face-to-face teaching and learning. It explores the experiences of undergraduate students in an ERT literature course at a university in Wuhan, China. It addresses a broad research question: How did these university students construct and negotiate their identities during ERT?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1044-1052
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Asia TEFL
Issue number3
Early online date30 Sept 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes


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