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Studying Under Stress: The Effect of COVID-19 Psychological Distress on Academic Challenges and Performance of Post-Secondary Students

Authors
  • Sukhawathanakul, Paweena
  • Hadwin, Allyson
  • Rostampour, Ramin
  • Bahena Olivares, Michelle
  • Shostak, Kate
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of College Student Retention
Publisher
SAGE Publications
Publication Date
Jun 05, 2022
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/15210251221104245
PMCID: PMC9171126
Source
PubMed Central
Keywords
Disciplines
  • Original Manuscript
License
Unknown

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic introduced significant disruptions in the learning environment for many post-secondary students. While emerging evidence suggest mental health has declined during the pandemic, little is known about how the pandemic has affected students academically. This study investigates how COVID-19 psychological distress impacts academic performance among a Canadian sample of post-secondary students (n = 496). Path analysis findings suggest that greater levels of COVID-19 distress was associated with lower self-reported predicted GPA. Metacognitive, motivational, and social and emotional challenges emerged as the most salient challenge areas that fully mediated the relationship between COVID-19 psychological distress and self-reported predicted GPA. Specifically, COVID-19 distress predicted greater levels of metacognitive and motivational challenges which, in turn, predicted lower self-reported GPA. Similarly, greater levels of COVID-19 distress predicted more social and emotional challenges but these challenges were associated to higher perceived GPA. Findings warrant future research to help students manage and cope with academic challenges that may be exacerbated under stressful conditions.

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