Abstract Literature about metacognition suggests that learners develop personal beliefs about the educational technologies that they are asked to employ and that such beliefs can influence learning outcomes. In this perspective, opinions about the psychological effects of computer-supported instructional tools were analysed by means of a questionnaire which included items about the motivational and emotional aspects of learning, the behaviour to have during the learning process, the mental abilities and the style of thinking required, and the cognitive benefits. Items were presented five times: each time they made reference to a different kind of tool (online courses, hypertexts, Web forums, multimedia presentations, and virtual simulations). The questionnaire was filled out by 99 undergraduates attending engineering courses. Results showed that students ranked the psychological effects of the computer-supported tools in a relative different order according to the kind of tool and attributed distinctive effects to each tool. Gender and expertise played a minor role in modulating undergraduates’ beliefs. Implications for instruction were discussed.