Pedagogical Challenges in Online Teaching: A Qualitative Study on Vietnamese University Teachers of Social Sciences


  • Lan Thanh Thi Tran Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences - University of Augsburg, Augsburg, Germany
  • Tam Thanh Cao Department of Social Policies and Social Work - National Chinan University, Taiwan
  • Vy Le Hoang Vo Faculty of Sociology - Social Work - Southeast Asian Studies - Ho Chi Minh City Open University, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


How to Cite

Tran, L. T. T., Cao, T. T., & Vo, V. L. H. (2023). Pedagogical Challenges in Online Teaching: A Qualitative Study on Vietnamese University Teachers of Social Sciences. Vietnam Journal of Education, 7(3), 227–239.


In recent years, online teaching has gained significant traction in higher education institutions across the globe, primarily due to the widespread impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, online teaching was mainly associated with distance learning which aims to provide further education for in-service learners. In this context, our study aims to explore the pedagogical obstacles encountered by Vietnamese university teachers when implementing online teaching in social sciences. Employing qualitative research methods, such as snowball sampling and semi-structured in-depth interviews, the researchers gathered data from 23 university teachers specializing in social sciences across 12 public and private universities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. The findings of this investigation shed light on various pedagogical barriers that impede the teaching process, encompassing aspects such as lesson plan preparation, lecture delivery (limited interactions, teaching methods and activities, students’ distraction and passive participation, managing virtual classrooms), student assessment, and overall teaching ineffectiveness. This study contributes to the existing literature on contextualized online instructions in higher education, specifically focusing on the social sciences domain. Furthermore, the discussion delves into the critical points, providing a comprehensive understanding of the challenges faced by educators in the online teaching landscape.


Download data is not yet available.


Adedoyin, O. B., & Soykan, E. (2020). Covid-19 pandemic and online learning: the challenges and opportunities. Interactive Learning Environments, 31(2), 863-875.

Aguilera-Hermida, P. (2020). College students’ use and acceptance of emergency online learning due to COVID-19. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 1.

Appana, S. (2008). A Review of Benefits and Limitations of Online Learning in the Context of the Student, the Instructor and the Tenured Faculty. International Journal on E-Learning, 7(1), 5-22.

Boczkowska, K., Bakalarski, P., Sviatoslav, M., & Leszczyński, P. K. (2018). The importance of e-learning in professional improvement of emergency nurses. Critical Care Innovation, 1(1), 16-24.

Carrillo, C., & Flores, M. A. (2020). COVID-19 and teacher education: a literature review of online teaching and learning practices. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 466-487.

Cowan, P., Neil, P. S., & Winter, E. (2013). A Connectivist Perspective of the Transition from Face-to-Face to Online Teaching in Higher Education. International Journal of Emerging Technologies in Learning (IJET), 8(1), 10.

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design Choosing Among Five Approaches (3rd ed.). SAGE.

Cutri, R. M., & Mena, J. (2020). A critical reconceptualisation of faculty readiness for online teaching. Distance Education, 41(3), 361-380.

Cutri, R. M., Mena, J., & Whiting, E. F. (2020). Faculty readiness for online crisis teaching: transitioning to online teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic. European Journal of Teacher Education, 43(4), 523-541.

Edelhauser, E., & Lupu-Dima, L. (2020). Is Romania Prepared for eLearning during the COVID-19 Pandemic? Sustainability, 12(13), 5438.

Edwards, R., & Holland, J. (2013). What is Qualitative Interviewing? Bloomsbury.

Fry, K. (2001). E‐learning markets and providers: some issues and prospects. Education + Training, 43(4/5), 233-239.

García-Morales, V. J., Garrido-Moreno, A., & Martín-Rojas, R. (2021). The Transformation of Higher Education After the COVID Disruption: Emerging Challenges in an Online Learning Scenario. Frontiers in Psychology, 12.

Gillis, A., & Krull, L. M. (2020). COVID-19 Remote Learning Transition in Spring 2020: Class Structures, Student Perceptions, and Inequality in College Courses. Teaching Sociology, 48(4), 283-299.

Govindarajan, V., & Srivastava, A. (2020). What the Shift to Virtual Learning Could Mean for the Future of Higher Ed. Harvard Business Review.

Gülbahar, Y., & Adnan, M. (2020). Faculty Professional Development in Creating Significant Teaching and Learning Experiences Online. In L. Kyei-Blankson, E. Ntuli, & J. Blankson (Eds.), Handbook of research on creating meaningful experiences in online courses (pp. 37-58). IGI Global.

Haq, F. ul. (2021). Five Reasons Online Learning is the Future of Professional Development. Forbes.

Ho, N. T. T., Sivapalan, S., Pham, H. H., Nguyen, L. T. M., Pham, A. T. Van, & Dinh, H. V. (2021). Students’ adoption of e-learning in emergency situations: the case of a Vietnamese university during COVID-19. Interactive Technology and Smart Education, 18(2), 246-269.

Hodges, C. B., Moore, S., Lockee, B. B., Trust, T., & Bond, M. A. (2020). The Difference Between Emergency Remote Teaching and Online Learning. Virginia Tech.

Hrastinski, S. (2008). Asynchronous and synchronous e-learning. Educause Quarterly, 31(4), 51-55.

Inkaew, M. (2022). A Challenge of Online Teaching and Learning Pedagogy: Fundamental English Writing Class in a Thai Context. Asia Pacific Journal of Educators and Education, 37(1), 131-155.

Koksal, I. (2020). The Rise of Online Learning. Forbes.

Le, D.-L., Giang, T.-V., & Ho, D.-K. (2021). The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Online Learning in Higher Education: A Vietnamese Case. European Journal of Educational Research, 10(4), 1683-1695.

Lei, S. I., & So, A. S. I. (2021). Online Teaching and Learning Experiences During the COVID-19 Pandemic - A Comparison of Teacher and Student Perceptions. Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Education, 33(3), 148-162.

Li, C., & Lalani, F. (2020). The COVID-19 pandemic has changed education forever. World Economic Forum.

Lucas, M., & Vicente, P. N. (2023). A double-edged sword: Teachers’ perceptions of the benefits and challenges of online teaching and learning in higher education. Education and Information Technologies, 28(5), 5083-5103.

Marks, A., AL-Ali, M., Atassi, R., Elkishk, A. A., & Rezgui, Y. (2021). Digital Transformation in Higher Education: Maturity and Challenges Post COVID-19. In Á. Rocha, C. Ferrás, P. C. López-López, & T. Guarda (Eds.), International Conference on Information Technology & Systems. ICITS 2021: Information Technology and Systems (pp. 53-70). Springer International Publishing.

Merriam, S. B., & Tisdell, E. J. (2016). Qualitative Research: A Guide to Design and Implementation (4th ed.). Jossey-Bass.

Mishra, L., Gupta, T., & Shree, A. (2020). Online teaching-learning in higher education during lockdown period of COVID-19 pandemic. International Journal of Educational Research Open, 1, 100012.

MOET (2017). Circular promulgating regulations on distance learning at university level (10/2017/TT-BGDĐT).

MOET (2020). Dispatch on the implementation of e-learning in response to the Covid-19 pandemic (795/BGDĐT-GDĐH).

MOET (2021a). Statistics of higher education for the academic year 2019-2020.

MOET (2021b). Circular promulgating regulation on undergraduate education (08/2021/TT-BGDDT).

Mohamed Kamil, M. J., & Sani, M. N. A. (2021). The Challenges and Initiatives of Teaching Product Design’s Course Online During the COVID-19 Pandemic in Malaysia. Asia Pacific Journal of Educators and Education, 36(1), 113-133.

Neborsky, E. V., Boguslavsky, M. V., Ladyzhets, N. S., & Naumova, T. A. (2020). Digital transformation of higher education: International trends. In International Scientific Conference “Digitalization of Education: History, Trends and Prospects” (DETP 2020) (pp. 393-398). Atlantis Press.

Oyediran, W. O., Omoare, A. M., Owoyemi, M. A., Adejobi, A. O., & Fasasi, R. B. (2020). Prospects and limitations of e-learning application in private tertiary institutions amidst COVID-19 lockdown in Nigeria. Heliyon, 6(11) e05457.

Oyedotun, T. D. (2020). Sudden change of pedagogy in education driven by COVID-19: Perspectives and evaluation from a developing country. Research in Globalisation, 2, 100029.

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods Integrating Theory and Practice (p. 832). SAGE.

Pham, H. H., & Ho, T. T. H. (2020). Toward a ‘new normal’ with e-learning in Vietnamese higher education during the post COVID-19 pandemic. Higher Education Research & Development, 39(7), 1327-1331.


Robson, C., & McCartan, K. (2016). Real World Research (4th ed.). Wiley.

Røe, Y., Wojniusz, S., & Bjerke, A. H. (2022). The Digital Transformation of Higher Education Teaching: Four Pedagogical Prescriptions to Move Active Learning Pedagogy Forward. Frontiers in Education, 6, 1-6.

Schleicher, A. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Education: Insights from “Education at a Glance 2020”.

Tran, T. T. (2013). The Causes of Passiveness in Learning of Vietnamese Students. VNU Journal of Education Research, 29(2), 72-84.

Villaumbrosia, C. G. De. (2020). The Rise Of E-Learning In 2020. Forbes.

Zhang, W., Wang, Y., Yang, L., & Wang, C. (2020). Suspending Classes Without Stopping Learning: China’s Education Emergency Management Policy in the COVID-19 Outbreak. Journal of Risk and Financial Management, 13(3), 55.




How to Cite

Tran, L. T. T., Cao, T. T., & Vo, V. L. H. (2023). Pedagogical Challenges in Online Teaching: A Qualitative Study on Vietnamese University Teachers of Social Sciences. Vietnam Journal of Education, 7(3), 227–239.



Original Articles