“I Don’t Know if I Can Handle It All”: Students’ Affect During Remote Education in the COVID-19 Pandemic in Brazil

Keywords: affective field, affective fatigue, discursive textual analysis, face-to-face class


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted society in different areas. In education, several reports show the deleterious effects of the disease on the physical and mental health of students, family members, and teachers around the world. Also, in Brazil, affect studies indicate the prevalence of anxiety, stress, and depression among students. The present research, of a qualitative nature, explores what it means, under the lens of affect and from the student’s perspective, to experience remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic. An online questionnaire of 41 closed- and open-ended questions was given to 363 students from a public school in southeastern Brazil. This article analyzes the affective fields that emerged from the discursive textual analysis of the students’ responses (n = 100). Four affective fields were categorized: friends, classes, home, and teachers; intersecting emotions, attitudes, values, beliefs, and motivation. In general, students expressed more negative than positive affect but a positive disposition toward face-to-face classes. Boys focused their affect more on classes, while girls on teachers. The affective fields allow us to consider the friends–home–teachers tripod as fundamental to overcoming the phenomenon of affective fatigue that has been identified.


Bernardes, M. S., Vieira, V. C. R., Francisco, P. M. S. B., Marín-León, L., Camargo, D. F. M., & Segall-Corrêa, A. M. (2021). (In) segurança alimentar no Brasil no pré e pós pandemia da COVID-19: reflexões e perspectivas [Food (in)security in Brazil in the pre- and post-pandemic of COVID-19: Reflections and perspectives]. InterAmerican Journal of Medicine and Health, 4. https://doi.org/10.31005/iajmh.v4i.160

Boschetti, I., & Behring, E. R. (2021). Assistência Social na pandemia da COVID-19: proteção para quem? [Social assistance in the COVID-19 pandemic: Protection for whom?]. Serviço Social & Sociedade, (140), 66–83. https://doi.org/10.1590/0101-6628.238

Bukvova, H. (2010). Studying research collaboration: A literature review. Sprouts: Working Papers on Information Systems, 10(3), Article 326. https://aisel.aisnet.org/sprouts_all/326

Comelli, F. A. M. (2020). Matemática e meta-afeto: lentes afetivas sobre a relação afeto-cognição na educação matemática [Mathematics and meta-affect: Affective lenses on the affect-cognition relationship in mathematics education] [Doctoral dissertation, Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo]. https://tede.pucsp.br/bitstream/handle/23161/2/Felipe%20Augusto%20de%20Mesquita%20Comelli.pdf

Conselho Nacional de Juventude. (2020). Pesquisa juventudes e a pandemia do coronavírus [Research on youth and the coronavirus pandemic]. https://4fa1d1bc-0675-4684-8ee9-031db9be0aab.filesusr.com/ugd/f0d618_41b201dbab994b44b00aabca41f971bb.pdf

Costa, R. M. P., da Silva, A. V. L., & Neto, E. D. A. A. (2021). Aspectos nefastos da pandemia da COVID-19 sobre a política de educação no Brasil [Nefarious aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education policy in Brazil]. Research, Society and Development, 10(3), Article e29310313313. https://doi.org/10.33448/rsd-v10i3.13313

Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Sage Publications. https://us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/qualitative-inquiry-and-research-design/book246896

Crispim, J. D. A., Ramos, A. C. V., Berra, T. Z., Santos, M. S. D., Santos, F. L. D., Alves, L. S., da Costa, F. B. P., & Arcêncio, R. A. (2021). Impacto e tendência da COVID-19 no sistema penitenciário do Brasil: um estudo ecológico [Impact and trend of COVID-19 in the Brazilian prison system: An ecological study]. Ciência & Saúde Coletiva, 26(1), 169–178. https://doi.org/10.1590/1413-81232020261.38442020

DeBellis, V. A., & Goldin, G. A. (2006). Affect and meta-affect in mathematical problem solving: A representational perspective. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 63(2), 131–147. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-006-9026-4

De Smedt, F., Merchie, E., Barendse, M., Rosseel, Y., De Naeghel, J., & Van Keer, H. (2018). Cognitive and motivational challenges in writing: Studying the relation with writing performance across students’ gender and achievement level. Reading Research Quarterly, 53(2), 249–272. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.193

Dutra, J. L. C., Carvalho, N. C. C., & Saraiva, T. A. R. (2020). Os efeitos da pandemia de COVID-19 na saúde mental das crianças [The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children’s mental health]. Pedagogia em Ação, 13(1), 293–301. http://periodicos.pucminas.br/index.php/pedagogiacao/article/view/23772/16788

Enes, E. N. S., & Bicalho, M. G. P. Afetos e subjetividades de estudantes na pandemia: Relato de experiência [Affections and subjectivities of students in the pandemic: Experience report]. Educação Contemporânea—Ensino Superior, 15, 8–15. https://recipp.ipp.pt/bitstream/10400.22/17293/1/CAPL_CIETI_GCA_cap23.pdf

Esteves, C. S., Oliveira, C. R. D., & Argimon, I. I. D. L. (2021). Social distancing: Prevalence of depressive, anxiety, and stress symptoms among Brazilian students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Frontiers in Public Health, 8, Article 923. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpubh.2020.589966

Fitchen, J. M. (1989). When toxic chemicals pollute residential environments: The cultural meanings of home and homeownership. Human Organization, 48(4), 313–324. https://doi.org/10.17730/humo.48.4.j5306054tk7w6813

Folkman, S. (2008). The case for positive emotions in the stress process. Anxiety, Stress, and Coping, 21(1), 3–14. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615800701740457

Freire, P. (2014). Pedagogia do oprimido [Pedagogy of the oppressed]. Paz e Terra. https://www.record.com.br/produto/pedagogia-do-oprimido-3/

Goldin, G. A., & Kaput, J. J. (1996). A joint perspective on the idea of representation in learning and doing mathematics. In L. Steffe, P. Nesher, P. Cobb, G. Goldin, & B. Greer (Eds.), Theories of mathematical learning (pp. 397–430). Erlbaum. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9780203053126-30/joint-perspective-idea-representation-learning-mathematics-gerald-goldin-james-kaput

Guba, E. G., & Lincoln, Y. S. (1994). Competing paradigms in qualitative research. In N. Denzin & Y. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (105–117). Sage Publications. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1994-98625-005

Hannula, M. S. (2019). Young learners’ mathematics-related affect: A commentary on concepts, methods, and developmental trends. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 100(3), 309–316. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-018-9865-9

Hart, L. E. (1989). Describing the affective domain: Saying what we mean. In D. B. McLeod & V. M. Adams (Eds.), Affect and mathematical problem solving (pp. 37–45). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4612-3614-6_3

Helgeson, V. S., Reynolds, K. A., & Tomich, P. L. (2006). A meta-analytic review of benefit finding and growth. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 74(5), 797–816. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-006X.74.5.797

Hodges, C., Moore, S., Lockee, B., Trust, T., & Bond, A. (2020, March 27). The difference between emergency remote teaching and online learning. Educause Review. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/3/the-difference-between-emergency-remote-teaching-and-online-learning

Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística. (2021). Cidades@. https://cidades.ibge.gov.br

Klimes‐Dougan, B., Pearson, T. E., Jappe, L., Mathieson, L., Simard, M. R., Hastings, P., & Zahn‐Waxler, C. (2014). Adolescent emotion socialization: A longitudinal study of friends’ responses to negative emotions. Social Development, 23(2), 395–412. https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12045

Larsen, L., Helland, M. S., & Holt, T. (2021). The impact of school closure and social isolation on children in vulnerable families during COVID-19: A focus on children’s reactions. European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00787-021-01758-x

Loades, M. E., Chatburn, E., Higson-Sweeney, N., Reynolds, S., Shafran, R., Brigden, A., Linney, C., McManus, M. N., Borwick, C., & Crawley, E. (2020). Rapid systematic review: The impact of social isolation and loneliness on the mental health of children and adolescents in the context of COVID-19. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 59(11), 1218–1239.E3. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2020.05.009

Lumpkin, A. (2007). Caring teachers the key to student learning. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 43(4), 158–160. https://doi.org/10.1080/00228958.2007.10516474

Malta Campos, M., & Vieira, L. F. (2021). COVID-19 and early childhood in Brazil: Impacts on children’s well-being, education and care. European Early Childhood Education Research Journal, 29(1), 125–140. https://doi.org/10.1080/1350293X.2021.1872671

Marin, G. A., de Araujo Caetano, I. R., Bianchin, J. M., & Cavicchioli, F. L. (2021). Depressão e efeitos da COVID-19 em universitários [Depression and effects of COVID-19 in university students]. InterAmerican Journal of Medicine and Health, 4. https://doi.org/10.31005/iajmh.v4i.187

Marques, E. S., Moraes, C. L. D., Hasselmann, M. H., Deslandes, S. F., & Reichenheim, M. E. (2020). A violência contra mulheres, crianças e adolescentes em tempos de pandemia pela COVID-19: panorama, motivações e formas de enfrentamento [Violence against women, children, and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic: Overview, contributing factors, and mitigating measures]. Cadernos de Saúde Pública, 36(4), Article e00074420. https://doi.org/10.1590/0102-311X00074420

Meléndez, J. C., Satorres, E., Reyes-Olmedo, M., Delhom, I., Real, E., & Lora, Y. (2020). Emotion recognition changes in a confinement situation due to COVID-19. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 72, Article 101518. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2020.101518

Moraes, R., & Galiazzi, M. C. (2007). Análise textual discursiva [Discursive textual analysis]. Editora Unijuí.

Radford, L. (2015). Of love, frustration, and mathematics: A cultural-historical approach to emotions in mathematics teaching and learning. In B. Peppin & B. Roesken-Winter (Eds.), From beliefs to dynamic affect systems in mathematics education (pp. 25–49). Springer. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-06808-4_2

Reis, N., Oliveira, C. C. D., & Andrade, A. G. D. (2020). COVID-19 E o Calendário Escolar Brasileiro: Medo E Frustração [COVID-19 and the Brazilian school calendar: Fear And frustration] (MPRA Paper No. 100800). University Library of Munich, Germany. https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/id/eprint/100800

Ritchie, J., Lewis, J., Nicholls, C. M., & Ormston, R. (Eds.). (2013). Qualitative research practice: A guide for social science students and researchers. Sage Publications. https://uk.sagepub.com/en-gb/eur/qualitative-research-practice/book237434

Salles, A. A. (2021). O impacto inicial da pandemia de COVID-19 no risco da atividade econômica no Brasil [The initial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the risk of economic activity in Brazil]. Pesquisa Operacional para o Desenvolvimento, 13, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.4322/PODes.2021.002

Santos, G., & Mendonça, M. (2021). Pandemia e o ensino remoto: Uma reflexão acerca da vivência afetivo-emocional dos estudantes [Pandemic and remote teaching: A reflection about students’ affective-emotional experience]. Revista Educação e Humanidades, 2(1), 110–131. https://periodicos.ufam.edu.br/index.php/reh/article/view/8499/6054

Saviani, D. (2020). Crise estrutural, conjuntura nacional, coronavirus e educação—o desmonte da educação nacional [Structural crisis, national situation, coronavirus and education—The dismantling of national education]. Revista Exitus, 10, e020063–e020063. https://doi.org/10.24065/2237-9460.2020v10n1ID1463

Schindler, M., & Bakker, A. (2020). Affective field during collaborative problem posing and problem solving: A case study. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 105(3), 303–324. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10649-020-09973-0

Sixsmith, J. (1986). The meaning of home: An exploratory study of environmental experience. Journal of environmental psychology, 6(4), 281–298. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0272-4944(86)80002-0

Sonnenwald, D. H. (2007). Scientific collaboration. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 41(1), 643–681. https://doi.org/10.1002/aris.2007.1440410121

Souza, A. S. R., & Amorim, M. M. R. (2021). Maternal mortality by COVID-19 in Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Saúde Materno Infantil, 21, 253–256. https://doi.org/10.1590/1806-9304202100S100014

Souza, D. D. O. (2021). As dimensões da precarização do trabalho em face da pandemia de COVID-19 [The dimensions of job insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic]. Trabalho, Educação e Saúde, 19. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/1981-7746-sol00311

Tan, W., Zhao, X., Ma, X., Wang, W., Niu, P., Xu, W., Gao, G. F., & Wu, G. (2020). A novel coronavirus genome identified in a cluster of pneumonia cases—Wuhan, China 2019−2020. China CDC Weekly, 2(4), 61–62. https://doi.org/10.46234/ccdcw2020.017

Tang, S., Xiang, M., Cheung, T., & Xiang, Y. T. (2021). Mental health and its correlates among children and adolescents during COVID-19 school closure: The importance of parent-child discussion. Journal of Affective Disorders, 279, 353–360. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2020.10.016

Vieira, K. M., Postiglioni, G. F., Donaduzzi, G., dos Santos Porto, C., & Klein, L. L. (2020). Vida de estudante durante a pandemia: isolamento social, ensino remoto e satisfação com a vida [Student life during pandemic: Social isolation, remote education and life satisfaction]. EaD em Foco, 10(3). https://doi.org/10.18264/eadf.v10i3.1147

Wentzel, K. R. (2016). Teacher–student relationships. In K. R. Wentzel & D. B. Miele (Eds.), Handbook of motivation at school (pp. 211–230). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315773384-18

World Health Organization (WHO). (2020a, February 11). WHO director-general’s remarks at the media briefing on 2019-nCoV on 11 February 2020. https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-2019-ncov-on-11-february-2020

World Health Organization (WHO). (2020b, March 11). WHO director-general’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19—11 March 2020. https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---11-march-2020

World Health Organization (WHO). (2021, May 25). Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/situation-reports/20210525_weekly_epi_update_41.pdf

Zahavi, D. (2018). Phenomenology: The basics. Routledge. https://www.routledge.com/Phenomenology-The-Basics/Zahavi/p/book/9781138216709

Zahavi, D. (2019). Applied phenomenology: Why it is safe to ignore the epoché. Continental Philosophy Review, 54, 259–273. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11007-019-09463-y

Zimer, A. F. D. O. S., da Silva, C. Q., Haag, P. E., Reis, M. E., Alves, T. K., & Raupp, L. M. W. (2020). A educação em tempos de pandemia: um olhar para as percepções de estudantes, professores e responsáveis de escolas do Vale do Paranhana—RS sobre os impactos nas práticas escolares [Education in times of pandemic: A look at the perceptions of students, teachers and school leaders in Vale do Paranhana—RS about the impacts on school practices]. Form@ção de Professores em Revista-Faccat, 1(2), 90–107. http://seer.faccat.br/index.php/formacao/article/view/1917/1210

How to Cite
Comelli, F. A. de M., da Costa, M., & dos Santos Tavares, E. (2021). “I Don’t Know if I Can Handle It All”: Students’ Affect During Remote Education in the COVID-19 Pandemic in Brazil. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 22(4), 53-71. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v23i1.5869
Research Articles