How Students Serve From Home: An Exploratory Study on the Influence of Work-From-Home on Work Performance and Learning Outcomes in a Service-Learning Internship Programme

May M. L. WONG, Ka Hing LAU, Chad CHAN

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsAbstractpeer-review


COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and changed the way we teach and learn, and service-learning (S-L) is no exception. New technology makes learning and working from home (WFH) possible, yet it also changes the way we interact dramatically. Literature stated that successful remote internship programmes need to personalise students’ experiences by fostering peer interaction, professional networking and quality and meaningful work. The current study examined how WFH influences the learning outcomes of a S-L internship programme. Thirteen students participated in a eight-week internship in four different community partner organisations, which adopted different work modes - WFH, face-to-face (F2F) and mixed. After the internship, the students and the partner organisation representatives were interviewed to opine their experience about how their work modes shaped performance. The data analysis employed a content analysis which obtained 261 codes about the impacts of different work modes and the key factors to WFH success. Results indicated that the respondents preferred F2F over WFH, with mostly positive impacts on the former and negative to the latter. Among them, communication has become one of the key factors in driving F2F success and WFH failure. Other negative impacts of WFH include difficulty in organising activities, distractions at home, less task variety, lower work efficiency, lower work quality, and not motivated to work. Notwithstanding these drawbacks, WFH brought various benefits, including good for student learning, better task/time management, and a conducive work environment. In addition, the key factors for WFH success include good preparation for WFH, agreements regarding work rules and expectations in advance, prior WFH experience; one’s motivation such as self-discipline, being responsible and proactive; suitable job nature such as independent tasks; effective communication; sufficient organisational support; and mutual trust and empowerment. A model was developed to better understand how the key factors affect intern's work performance under WFH.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020
EventThe 3rd Conference for Higher Education Research - Hong Kong 2020: Innovations of Higher Education Amid the Pandemic: Institutional Management, Teaching, and Research Perspectives - Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 13 Nov 202014 Nov 2020


ConferenceThe 3rd Conference for Higher Education Research - Hong Kong 2020
Abbreviated titleCHER-Hong Kong 2020
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
OtherHeld at Lingnan University in Hong Kong, The Conference for Higher Education Research – Hong Kong is a multidisciplinary conference co-organised by Lingnan University (Hong Kong) and the Asia Pacific Higher Education Research Partnership (APHERP), and in collaboration with University of Bath and Durham University.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in school or university closures all across the world, triggering unprecedented challenges for education systems. According to UNESCO, 1.5 billion learners are out of the classroom globally, from pre-primary to higher education. Of the 195 countries that had closed schools in April 2020, 128 have yet to announce plans for their reopening.

It is clear that the future of higher education needs rethinking in many ways amid the pandemic. The International Association of Universities (IAU) Global Survey on the Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education finds, among other things, that (i) COVID-19 has had an impact on international student mobility at 89% of HEIs; (ii) at almost all HEIs, the shift from face-to-face to distance teaching did not come without challenges; and (iii) 80% of HEIs reported that research has been affected by the pandemic at their institutions.

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world’s higher education will be long lasting. We in higher education must accept the reality of a paradigm shift. The crisis situation created by the horrible pandemic has served to jolt us out of the trap of yesterday’s status quo and make necessary changes.

The CHER – Hong Kong 2020 aims to foster dialogue on the staggering impact of COVID-19 on the future of higher education and the innovations required to meet the global challenges, with special focus on the following topics:

- Institutional Management
- Teaching and Learning Innovations
- Emerging Higher Education Research Directions
- Impact on Finance and University Governance
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