Students' coping with the self-regulatory demand of crisis-driven digitalization in university mathematics instruction: do motivational and emotional orientations make a difference?


The COVID-19 pandemic induced a radical shift from face-to-face lectures to online learning in university mathematics instruction, which confronted students with a high self-regulatory demand. We investigated the role of students’ motivational and emotional orientations regarding mathematics in coping with this demand. Among N=123 university students (54 women) studying mathematics at the tertiary level, two clusters differing in mathematics related interest, anxiety, self-concept, and work ethics could be identified—namely less promising (n=63) and more promising (n=60) motivational and emotional orientations. Controlling for gender and general attitude towards learning mathematics with information and communications technology (ICT), students in the more promising cluster reported higher expectation of success, higher need for face-to-face social interaction, and less preference for online learning formats after the pandemic situation than students from the less promising cluster. However, students in different clusters did not differ significantly in their subjective task value, their learning outside of course structures, and their appreciation of digital learning formats. The results suggest that a positive general attitude towards learning with ICT was the key element influencing students’ coping with learning in the pandemic situation. In addition, particularly students demonstrating more promising orientations were eager to return to face-to-face instruction.

In Computers in Human Behavior
Frank Reinhold
Frank Reinhold
Professor of Mathematics Education

I am currently working as a professor of mathematics education at University of Education Freiburg.