Self-regulatory competencies and academic success

Student writes in a notebook at a table with a computer and a coffee cup.
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Studying under stress: The role of self-regulatory competencies in mediating the impact of Covid 19 distress on academic success

Team members

  • Dr. Allyson Hadwin
  • Dr. Paweena Sukhawathanakul
  • Ramin Rostampour
  • Michelle Bahena Olivares

About this project

The goal of this study was to examine the role the pandemic played in first-year, first-semester undergraduate students’ academic lives as they navigated university at a distance. The researchers focused on the students’ mental health, academic challenges and academic outcomes.

What led to this project?

The research team saw the need to understand how different factors like labour market disruption, financial burden, transition to distance courses, and social-emotional factors impacted post-secondary students’ mental health during COVID-19 pandemic.

What did the researchers do?

In fall 2020, the researchers surveyed 496 participants. The factors the research team looked at in the survey were distresses and academic challenges the students faced.

Distresses included mental stress related to thinking about the virus and its effects, PTSD and feelings of guilt or shame. Some academic challenges the researchers looked for were metacognitive, cognitive, socio-emotional, behavioral and motivational.

Project findings

Academic performance prioritized

The researchers found that students prioritized their academic performance over their own health or personal relationships, compromising their mental health.

Self-regulated learning strategies

Self-regulated learning strategies (SRL) such as planning and adaptation were crucial to reduce the negative impact on students’ GPA during COVID-19.

Completing ED-D 101

  • Students that enrolled in ED-D 101 reported higher adaptation competencies in their first term when compared with students who did not enroll in the course in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Students that completed the course reported significantly fewer challenges compared to other students in their first term and upper year students in the following areas: metacognitive, social emotional, cognitive, and behavioral.

Next steps

The researchers plan to follow up with the surveyed students during their second term. They are also planning to replicate some of the elements of this study in a middle school setting to see if there are similar results.

How can you use this research?

During the stressful time of the global pandemic, researchers found that students that enrolled in ED-D 101 had developed better strategies to cope with academic challenges.

The findings of this study can be applied to in-person learning as well: teaching students how to succeed academically early in their university career can benefit them as they progress through their degree.

Downloadable resource

Studying under stress infographic