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Study Finds Psychological Flexibility Plays Key Role in Students’ Academic Adjustment During Covid

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University students globally have faced numerous challenges due to the Covid pandemic, notably impacting their academic and psychological well-being. A recent study sheds light on the vital role of psychological flexibility in navigating the uncertainties of the pandemic, particularly in relation to academic adjustment during the transition to online learning.

The study aimed to explore the interplay between students’ intolerance of uncertainty (IU) and their academic adjustment, with a special emphasis on the mediating role of psychological flexibility (PF). This concept is especially relevant given the sudden shift to online learning environments, which has been a significant source of stress and uncertainty for students. The findings were published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology.

The results from the study were revealing. Psychological flexibility and intolerance of uncertainty were found to significantly impact students’ ability to adjust academically during the pandemic. Notably, psychological flexibility emerged as a complete mediator between the intolerance of uncertainty and academic adjustment. This indicates that students who were more psychologically flexible were better equipped to handle the uncertainties and stressors of the pandemic, thereby maintaining better academic performance and adjustment​​.

Interestingly, the study also found that online self-regulation, a sub-dimension of academic adjustment, did not significantly correlate with other variables in the model. This suggests that other factors may play a more critical role in academic adjustment during times of uncertainty.

The correlation between tolerance for uncertainty and psychological flexibility was negative and statistically significant, indicating that higher intolerance for uncertainty is linked to lower psychological flexibility. In contrast, psychological flexibility was positively and significantly related to academic adjustment. The study also highlighted that academic adjustment during the pandemic was influenced by students’ perceptions of success, educational stress, and academic self-efficacy. Surprisingly, traditional markers of academic success, such as GPA and online self-regulatory learning, were not found to be significantly related to academic adjustment in this context​.

The findings have significant implications for educational institutions and policymakers. The crucial role of psychological flexibility suggests that interventions aimed at enhancing this trait could be beneficial in helping students adapt to the challenging and uncertain academic environment caused by the pandemic. This could include programmes focused on stress management, fostering resilience, and developing adaptive coping strategies.

The lack of a significant correlation between GPA and online self-regulatory learning and academic adjustment during the pandemic suggests a need to reassess traditional academic success metrics in unprecedented times. Institutions may need to consider broader aspects of student wellbeing and adaptability as indicators of academic success.

The study underscores the importance of psychological flexibility in academic adjustment amid the challenges posed by the Covid pandemic. It suggests that helping students develop psychological flexibility could be a key strategy for supporting their academic and psychological wellbeing during times of uncertainty. As educational institutions continue to navigate the impacts of the pandemic, these insights offer valuable guidance for supporting student success in a rapidly changing world.

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