COVID-19 stress and middle school students’ engagement and school aversion: examining the mediational roles of emotion regulation and perceptions of school climate




Hood, Moira

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Learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has included disruption, uncertainty, and additional stress for students. Adverse learning outcomes are a growing concern especially for vulnerable groups, such as middle school students. While COVID-19 research in academic fields is currently emerging, more research needs to address the specific experiences of middle school students. The current study examined the relationship between COVID-19 related stress (distress or fatigue) and student outcomes (student engagement and school aversion) for a sample of middle school students (N = 301). Specifically, coping (i.e., emotion regulation strategies) and perceptions of school climate were examined as mediators in the above relationship. Findings indicated that COVID-19 fatigue was inversely related to student engagement and positively related to school aversion. Emotion regulation mediated this relationship such that utilizing adaptive emotion regulation strategies promoted student engagement and dampened school aversion in relation to COVID-19 fatigue. School climate was also a significant mediator above and beyond the role of emotion regulation such that positive perceptions of school climate promoted engagement and reduced school aversion. A deeper explanation of the importance of regulation and the way middle schoolers perceive school rules and supports in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is discussed.



COVID-19, COVID, Middle School, Students, Emotion Regulation, School Climate, Engagement, School Aversion, Pandemic, Stress, Fatigue