Students' basic needs and well‐being during the COVID‐19 pandemic: A two‐country study of basic psychological need satisfaction, intrinsic learning motivation, positive emotion and the moderating role of self‐regulated learning

Julia Holzer, Marko Lüftenegger, Udo Käser, Selma Korlat, Elisabeth Pelikan, Anja Schultze‐Krumbholz, Christiane Spiel, Sebastian Wachs, Barbara Schober
Published Online:
03 May 2021

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COVID‐19 and its containment measures have uniquely challenged adolescent well‐being. Following self‐determination theory (SDT), the present research seeks to identify characteristics that relate to well‐being in terms of positive emotion and intrinsic learning motivation under distance schooling conditions and whether SDT's core postulates hold true in this exceptional situation. Feeling competent and autonomous concerning schoolwork, and socially related to others were hypothesised to relate to positive emotion and intrinsic learning motivation. The role of self‐regulated learning (SRL) as a moderator was considered. Self‐reports were collected from 19,967 secondary school students in Austria (Study 1) and Germany (Study 2). In both studies, structural equation modelling revealed that all basic needs were associated with positive emotion, and that competence and autonomy were associated with intrinsic learning motivation. Moderation effects of SRL were identified in Study 1 only: The association of autonomy and both outcomes and the association of competence and intrinsic learning motivation varied with the level of SRL. The results highlight the relevance of basic psychological need satisfaction and SRL in a situation in which adolescents are confronted with a sudden loss of daily routines.

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