Abstract: The aim of this exploratory descriptive study was to identify how ergonomic factors affect the learning experiences of international students studying online in higher education. Research had previously been conducted with 130 students studying online from the School of Public Health, School of Education and the School of Design and Built Environment at Curtin University to identify how ergonomic factors affected their online learning. Information was collected from these students using a checklist and questionnaire. The most significant difference in responses was between domestic and international students (0.52 using the 2-sample t-test, p=0.001). The results of ergonomic factors that affected international students were further analysed and a focus group used to identify and qualify international students studying fully online perceptions of how the five ergonomic factors affected their online learning, to identify any specific areas of concern and opportunities for improvements. The study results indicated that international students perceived that physical, cognitive, environmental, organisational and social ergonomic factors all had some impact on their online learning. Although, the international students prioritised physical and environmental ergonomic factors as the most important for successful online learning, there was a 100% agreement that organisational factors hindered their learning effectiveness the most. The significance of this research is that it investigated the impact of all five ergonomic factors (physical, environmental, organisational, cognitive and social) on international student’s learning in an online education environment, which no other known study has investigated.
Keywords: international students, tertiary education, online learning