Online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic: Applying the self-determination theory in the ‘new normal’



Published 13-06-2022
Sobia Shafaq Shah Asif Ali Shah Farzana Memon Atika Ahmad Kemal Arjumand Soomro


The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced the notion of the ‘new normal’ in daily life through profoundly influencing the way we used to live, study and work. During these unprecedented times, the rapid transition from traditional face-to-face learning to online learning has been viewed as a paradigm shift in higher education. Drawing impetus from the self-determination theoretical framework, the present study aims to examine the impact of the online learning climate on student's engagement. It also hypothesizes the mediating role of basic psychological needs on the nexus between online learning and students’ engagement. Total 689 students taking online classes in ten (five publics and five private) universities of Pakistan responded to the web-based survey. The present study findings do not support the direct influence of the online learning climate on student engagement, nevertheless, this relationship was mediated by students’ perceptions concerning the extent to which their basic psychological needs were satisfied/ dissatisfied. This study theoretically and empirically contributes to both the psychology and higher education literature, pertaining to the developing field of online learning. The practical implications from this study inform policy-makers in academia to reflect on the students’ psychological needs within virtual teaching environment.

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