Students’ self-reported well-being under corona measures, lessons for the future

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As education was forced to go fully online in early 2020 as a consequence of the imposed lockdowns, concerns were raised related to student well-being. This study examines student well-being at the science faculty of a large urban university in the Netherlands within the framework of Basic Psychological Need Theory, a sub-theory of Self-Determination Theory. A mixed-methods approach was adopted, combining the results of an online student survey with 16 Likert-scale questions as well as two open ended questions (2228 participants, corresponding to a response rate of 32%) with a student focus group interview. The Likert-scale questions were subjected to factor analyses and reveal problems with well-being in four areas: study, personal worries, personal well-being, and societal worries. The analyses of the answers to the open ended questions as well as the focus group data show that students are positive on the autonomy offered by the inherent flexibility of online education, e.g., as a consequence of reduced travel time. However, the psychological needs of competence and relatedness are seriously undermined during times of lockdown, mainly because of poorer student-teacher interaction, lack of structure, loneliness, and helplessness. Students state that they need more support in these areas, for example by on-campus meetings whenever possible, psychological support, improvements in online education, online social events, adequate communication, and leniency in the interpretation of regulations and deadlines. Implications are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere08733
Pages (from-to)1-11
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022


  • Basic psychological needs
  • COVID-19
  • Online education
  • Student support
  • Student well-being


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