New Norm, Old Obstacles: The Impact of Distance Learning on Student Agency during the Covid-19 Pandemic
Mandatory distance learning implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic has produced a new educational landscape for elementary students. Working- and middle-class students have had to meet new expectations around class attendance, homework, and time management, and some are now responsible for overseeing their own education. This study examines students’ agentive expressions and perceptions of time to explore the effects of these expectations, and to contribute to a discussion about the implications of distance learning. Through participant observation and interviews with elementary school students across four Southern California school districts, this study offers insights into how students conceptualize their new role in their education and it provides concrete examples of how this manifests day-to-day. Students from ages five to thirteen learning from home, especially those with limited assistance
from guardians throughout the school day, have new responsibilities and a greater sense of “their time,” through which they simultaneously discover and establish their position as agents in their education.