Impact of lecturers’ emotional intelligence on students’ learning and engagement in remote learning spaces: A cross-cultural study


  • Dr. Asanka Gunasekara Swinburne University of Technology
  • Dr. Kristina Turner Swinburne University of Technology
  • Dr. Chorng Yuan Fung Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus
  • Professor Con Stough Swinburne University of Technology and Aristotle Emotional Intelligence



remote learning, emotional intelligence, learning and engagement, focus group, cultural differences


Higher education institutions have recently transitioned from face-to-face to online teaching and learning environments. However, academic staff lack sufficient training in applying emotional intelligence (EI) skills and strategies in online learning environments. Although literature addressing academics’ EI is sparse, some studies have suggested that lecturers’ EI greatly influences teaching and learning. This study used the concept of EI to understand students’ perceptions of how lecturers’ EI impacted their learning and engagement in an online learning environment. We conducted four online focus group interviews of 14 students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at two campuses of an Australian university, one in Melbourne and the other in Malaysia. Four main themes were identified using thematic analysis. Students discussed their perceptions and experiences on (a) vulnerabilities, coping and empathy; (b) relationships with lecturers, trust and safety; (c) communication, tone and voice; and (d) managing emotions of lecturers. Our findings suggest that lecturers’ EI impacted students’ learning and engagement in online learning spaces. However, the impact differs between Australia and Malaysia due to cultural differences. Drawing on the findings, we present online education good practices grounded in the theory of EI. Lecturers delivering online courses should consider employing these practices for effective teaching.

Implications for practice or policy:

  • Higher educational institutions need to support lecturers in developing the necessary EI skills to engage students in online learning.
  • Lecturers need to make meaningful attempts to develop positive relationships with students in online forums to support students’ engagement.
  • Lecturers working in online learning environments need to support students to develop friendships and connections with their peers.
  • Lecturers need to include regular discussion breaks during online lectures to allow students to share their opinions and experiences.


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Author Biographies

Dr. Asanka Gunasekara , Swinburne University of Technology

Asanka Gunasekara, PhD, is a Lecturer in Management at Swinburne Business School. Asanka's main research interests are in the areas of social and organisational inclusion of migrants. In particular she is interested in skilled migrants' acculturation, wellbeing and career success. In addition, Asanka is interested in employee and organisational mindfulness, emotional intelligence and wellbeing studies. 

Dr. Kristina Turner , Swinburne University of Technology

Dr Kristina Turner is a Lecturer in Primary Education at Swinburne University. Kristina is the Course Director for the Bachelor of Education (Primary) and Master of Teaching (Primary) courses. Kristina has worked in a variety of school and university settings. In addition, Kristina regularly conducts 'Teacher Wellbeing' workshops for primary and secondary schools.

Kristina's research focuses on teacher wellbeing and incorporates five key areas:

  • Teachers’ and school leaders' wellbeing and application of positive psychology strategies, including the effects on their teaching practice and students’ learning
  • Pre-service teacher emotional intelligence and wellbeing
  • Teacher educator wellbeing
  • Emotional intelligence and wellbeing in higher education
  • Application of digital technologies to support student learning outcomes

Dr. Chorng Yuan Fung, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak Campus

Dr. Fung obtained his PhD in educational psychology from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). His PhD research was on university students’ motivational beliefs and self-regulated learning, using quasi-experimental mixed methods approach.  Blending both the practical and the theory, his passion is to develop learners as critical thinkers in the field that they are embarking on. Leveraging his PhD and Master’s research in self-regulated learning, cognitive modelling and cognitive task analysis, Dr. Fung provides useful ‘thinking tools’ for his learners to achieve sound understanding and application of the subject content. He conducts training, both in-course and corporates, regularly. He uses CARE (Context, Application, Reflect and Evaluate) approach in his teaching and training, making him one of the sought-after lecturers and trainers in the field.

Professor Con Stough , Swinburne University of Technology and Aristotle Emotional Intelligence

Professor Con Stough’s research interest lies in understanding human intelligence and cognition. He examines this central question from both psychological and biological perspectives, particularly using pharmacological methods.

A significant part of this research aims towards a better understanding of the cognitive and psychological effects of pharmacologically active substances ranging from illicit drugs to herbal and nutrient medicines. This includes validating new and existing nutritional products that may have a pharmacological profile useful in cognitive enhancement – for example, the bacopa extract CDRI08. More broadly, Professor Stough’s research contributes to the development of nutritional products that can improve brain and cognitive function in Australia and overseas.

In other research, Professor Stough has been working closely with partner schools from Australia and New Zealand to develop measures of emotional intelligence that can be used as development programs for children of all ages. This school-based research and development coalition is known as Aristotle Emotional Intelligence.




How to Cite

Gunasekara, A., Turner, K. ., Fung, C. Y., & Stough , C. . (2022). Impact of lecturers’ emotional intelligence on students’ learning and engagement in remote learning spaces: A cross-cultural study. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 38(4), 112–126.