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      Breaching Learners’ Social Distancing through Social Media during the COVID-19 Pandemic

      , , ,
      International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
      MDPI AG

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          Abstract

          Higher education has been shifted toward blended learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. An increase in social media usage intensity and reduced face-to-face interaction due to the COVID-19 pandemic urged instructional communication researchers to revisit the dynamics of learners’ group development in terms of their socialization and academic performance during the COVID-19 crisis. This research aimed to determine the mediating role of social media sociability between face-to-face socialization and academic performance of higher education students in blended learning environments during the COVID-19 pandemic. It was also the aim of the study to determine the moderating effect of social media usage intensity on social media sociability. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with the students (n = 340) enrolled in science teacher education departments of universities in Pakistan. Partial least squares structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) was used for multivariate analysis. Results revealed that face-to-face socialization gave an essential start to develop a learning group. However, when face-to-face socialization was reduced due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was mediated by social media usage in blended learning environments to increase their socialization and academic performance during the crisis. The findings of the study are useful for higher education institutions to adopt social media strategies for students’ socialization during the crisis.

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                (View ORCID Profile)
                (View ORCID Profile)
                Journal
                IJERGQ
                International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
                IJERPH
                MDPI AG
                1660-4601
                November 2021
                October 20 2021
                : 18
                : 21
                : 11012
                Article
                10.3390/ijerph182111012
                33498846
                9f187a41-3948-4de6-b849-86b827257c07
                © 2021

                https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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