Psychological Impact of Online Education on University Students during the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Case study on ESL Undergraduates at Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka


  • Basnayake Lakmini Department of English Language Teaching, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka
  • N. Jayathunga Department of Social Sciences, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka



COVID-19, Online Learning, ESL Learners, Psychological Impact, Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka


This study aims to investigate the psychological impact of online education on English as Second Language (ESL) undergraduates at Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. In an unexpected transition from traditional in-class learning to online education in the university, online tools, techniques and new online learning methods have been often considered and experimented, however, students’ mental well-being within the long-term online learning process is seldom addressed. This study addresses that research gap which prompts more attention on stress and anxiety encountered by undergraduates at a time of home-confinement in a pandemic situation. This study is mainly a quantitative study in which the research design is a survey method. A questionnaire survey was carried out on a random sample of first- and second-year students who follow ESL in the Faculty of Social Sciences & Languages at Sabaragamuwa University. Students’ level of stress and anxiety, academic satisfaction, performance in online assessments and their perceptions of online learning were studied. The study revealed that negative psychological effects like stress, anxiety and hopelessness often occur due to the continuous endurance of online lectures and assessments with poor internet connectivity issues. The results further revealed the urgent need to develop an alternate mechanism to continue education without interruption to face unexpected future crises . Further, the study suggests providing students more time to get ready for online assessments and inculcate interactive sessions online in order to minimise stress and discomfort during the online learning process.


Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2011). Going the distance: Online education in the United States, The Online Learning Consortium. Retrieved from

American Psychological Association. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Chandrasiri, N. R., & Weerakoon, B. S. (2021). Online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: Perceptions of allied health sciences undergraduates. Radiography, 28(2), 545-549.

Erandi, H., Mahasinghe, A. C., Perera, S., & Jayasinghe, S. (2020). Effectiveness of the strategies implemented in Sri Lanka for controlling the COVID-19 outbreak. Journal of Applied Mathematics, 1, 23-54. Retrieved from

Francis, J. L., Moitra, E., Dyck, I., & Keller, M. B. (2012). The impact of stressful life events on relapse of generalized anxiety disorder. Depress Anxiety, 29(5), 386-391.

Haththotuwa, P. M. P. S., & Rupasingha, R. A. H. M. (2021). Adapting to online learning in higher education system during the COVID-19 pandemic: A case study of universities in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka Journal of Social Sciences and Humanities, 1(2), 147-160.

Health Promotion Bureau. (2020). COVID-19: Live situational analysis dashboard of Sri Lanka. Retrieved from

Lanka Education. (2020). All Universities to re-open from 17th August. Retrieved from

Rameez, A., Fowsar, M. A. M., & Lumna. N. (2020). Impact of COVID-19 on Higher Education Sectors in Sri Lanka: A Study based on South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. Journal of Educational and Social Research, 10(6), 341-349.

Roffe, I. (2004). Innovation and E-learning: E-business for an Educational Enterprise. University of Wales Press, Cardiff.

Shelton, K., & Saltsman, G. (2005). An Administrator’s Guide to Online Education. CT Information Age Publishing, Greenwich.

US Embassy in Sri Lanka. (2020). COVID-19 Information - Sri Lanka. Retrieved from

WHO Coronavirus dashboard. Retrieved from




How to Cite

Lakmini, B., & Jayathunga, N. (2023). Psychological Impact of Online Education on University Students during the Covid-19 Pandemic: A Case study on ESL Undergraduates at Sabaragamuwa University of Sri Lanka. Asian Review of Social Sciences, 12(2), 22–31.