Date of Award

2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

College

College of Education and International Services

Program

Educational Psychology, Ph.D.

First Advisor

Nadia Nosworthy

Second Advisor

Jimmy Kijai

Third Advisor

Janine Lim

Abstract

Problem

In contrast to more traditional learning environments, it can be difficult to "see and hear" both the instructor and, more crucially, the students when engaging in online education. This has been one of the most common criticisms leveled against online education for a long time. The COVID-19 disruption and transformation of online learning in higher education underlines the fact that variance among online learners in terms of academic success and psychological well-being are determined by the level and quality of self-regulation. What is the degree of self-regulation among American university students who study online because of the COVID-19 pandemic's impact, and what variables might affect or perhaps predict this level of self-regulation?

Purpose of Study

The purpose of the present study was to test a theoretical model that explains how autonomy support, satisfaction of basic psychological needs, and mindsets predict self-regulation among university online learners in the United States. Based on the model fit and direct effect results of the first research hypothesis, the second research model was developed to examine the mediating effect of basic psychological needs satisfaction on the relationship between autonomy support and self-regulation, and whether mindsets could moderate the indirect effect of basic psychological needs satisfaction on the relationship between autonomy support and self-regulation. To assess the data, structural equation modeling (SEM) was employed.

Method

This study used quantitative analysis of non-experimental survey data collected via Alchemer. A model-testing design was used to examine a theoretical model which proposed that basic psychological needs satisfaction (autonomy, competency, relatedness), autonomy support, and mindsets predict online learners' self-regulation. 1257 people in all completed the survey. The number of complete and valid participant responses was a sample of 404. Excel, SPSS version 26, Mplus version 8.3 were used for data analysis. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was adopted as the main statistical technique.

Results

The first research model of this study hypothesized that autonomy support, basic psychological needs satisfaction, and mindsets predict university online learners’ self-regulation. Analysis of the data indicated that the first hypothesized research model fit the data (X2=464.364, df=200, Normed Chi-Square=2.231, CFI=0.925, TLI=0.913, RMSEA=0.057, SRMR=0.053). The path analysis indices of model one suggested that autonomy support positively affected university online learners’ basic psychological needs satisfaction (b=0.82, p<0.001). Basic psychological needs satisfaction positively affected self-regulation (b=0.44, p<0.001) and mindsets positively affected self-regulation (b=0.23, p<0.001). Overall, research model one explained 44.2% variance of online learners' self-regulation. The model fit indices showed that the second hypothesized research model fit the data (X2=378.398, df=146, Normed Chi-Square=2.259, CFI=0.921, TLI=0.908, RMSEA=0.063, SRMR=0.050). A significant mediator effect of basic psychological needs satisfaction was found between autonomy support and self-regulation. The results indicated that the conditional indirect effect of autonomy support on self-regulation via basic psychological needs satisfaction was significant both when the mindsets score was high (which suggests growth mindset orientation) (β=0.216, 95% CI [0.098, 0.316]) and when the mindsets score was low (which suggests fixed mindset orientation) (β=0.150, 95% CI [0.031, 0.250]).

Conclusions

Applying SEM technique for data analysis, the model fit indices showed that the first hypothesized research model of this study fit the data and explained 44.2% variance of university online learners' self-regulation. The path analysis indices of model one suggests that basic psychological needs satisfaction and mindsets play a predictive role in self-regulation among university online learners whereas autonomy support could not be used as a predictor of self-regulation among university online learners. In addition, the path analysis indices of research model one indicates that autonomy support and basic psychological needs satisfaction could not be used as a predictor of mindsets among university online learners whereas autonomy support could predict basic psychological needs satisfaction as suggested by the theoretical framework. A significant mediator effect of basic psychological needs satisfaction was found between autonomy support and self-regulation. Furthermore, the results of the second research model indicate that the conditional indirect effect of autonomy support on self-regulation via basic psychological needs satisfaction was both significant when the mindsets score was high (which suggests growth mindset orientation) and when the mindsets score was low (which suggests fixed mindset orientation). The difference (though not significant) between these two slopes suggests that the mediation effect of basic psychological needs satisfaction on the relationship between autonomy support and self-regulation was slightly stronger when the mindsets score was higher indicating a growth mindset.

Subject Area

Web-based instruction; Distance education

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