How can students feel more vital amidst severe restrictions? Psychological needs satisfaction, motivational regulation and vitality of students during the coronavirus pandemic restrictions
During the pandemic restrictions imposed in spring 2020, many aspects of students’ living and learning environments changed drastically. From the perspective of Self-Determination Theory, changes in social context interact with the satisfaction or frustration of basic psychological needs and, as a result, with study-related motivational regulation and vitality. In this study, we investigate the relationships between the contextual factors of online-based distance learning, basic psychological needs, forms of motivational regulation and subjective vitality in a sample ofN= 1849 university students across eight universities in Austria and Germany. Based on structural equational modelling, the results stress the relevance of satisfaction with technological resources in regard to higher levels of satisfaction in all three basic psychological needs, while perceived overload is linked to lower levels of needs satisfaction and increased basic psychological needs frustration. Further, the estimated workload difference before and during the pandemic is not related to the motivational outcomes of the model. All relationships have been tested for mediation effects between basic psychological needs and the different forms of motivational regulation on subjective vitality: for the need for relatedness, no mediation is found, while the effect of the need for autonomy is fully mediated by autonomous regulation styles. The need for competence was associated with several mediating interactions with regulation styles. The results offer insight into students’ perceptions of their study-related experiences during the pandemic and can help to develop effective methods in online-based and blended learning settings in the future
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