Changes and Adaptations: How University Students Self-Regulate Their Online Learning During the COVID-19 Pandemic

F. Biwer*, W. Wiradhany, M.O. Egbrink, H. Hospers, S. Wasenitz, W. Jansen, A. de Bruin

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


During the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic, universities had to shift from face-to-face to emergency remote education. Students were forced to study online, with limited access to facilities and less contact with peers and teachers, while at the same time being exposed to more autonomy. This study examined how students adapted to emergency remote learning, specifically focusing on students' resource-management strategies using an individual differences approach. One thousand eight hundred university students completed a questionnaire on their resource-management strategies and indicators of (un)successful adaptation to emergency remote learning. On average, students reported being less able to regulate their attention, effort, and time and less motivated compared to the situation before the crisis started; they also reported investing more time and effort in their self-study. Using a k-means cluster analysis, we identified four adaptation profiles and labeled them according to the reported changes in their resource-management strategies: the overwhelmed, the surrenderers, the maintainers, and the adapters. Both the overwhelmed and surrenderers appeared to be less able to regulate their effort, attention, and time and reported to be less motivated to study than before the crisis. In contrast, the adapters appreciated the increased level of autonomy and were better able to self-regulate their learning. The resource-management strategies of the maintainers remained relatively stable. Students' responses to open-answer questions on their educational experience, coded using a thematic analysis, were consistent with the quantitative profiles. Implications about how to support students in adapting to online learning are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article number642593
Number of pages12
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Publication statusPublished - 23 Apr 2021


  • COVID-19
  • self-regulated learning
  • resource-management strategies
  • emergency remote learning
  • cluster analysis
  • higher education

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