Entablado: Slips, impression management and performance mastery in online teaching

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Southern African Review of Education with Education with Production


The abrupt need to transition from face-to-face to online education presented difficulties for students, teachers, and administrators. The shift to distance learning forced students and teachers to adapt old learning practices for the virtual setting and create new ones to achieve educational outcomes. This study uses Erving Goffman’s (1956, 1959) dramaturgical approach to describe the performance of academic work in the online environment through academicians’ self-presentation in their roles as educators, researchers, administrators, or students. The study utilised interviews, entries in a daily journal, and public posts on social media platforms such as Facebook. Using interviews with eight teachers doing administrative work, research or graduate studies in higher educational institutions, this study argues that the experience in online education manifests the same aspects of Goffman’s (1956, 1959) dramaturgy as observed in a face-to-face context. Although there were are a lot of adjustments, changes and retro-fitting, the participants pushed for a reestablishment of the same sense of order, structure and control as when classes were presented face-to-face. A sense of control was particularly highlighted, especially in the process of addressing slips in their performance.

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