Graduation Date

Summer 2023

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in Psychology, option Academic Research

Committee Chair Name

Dr. Brandilynn Villarreal

Committee Chair Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Dr. Gregg Gold

Second Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Third Committee Member Name

Dr. Amber Gaffney

Third Committee Member Affiliation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



The Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) forced college students to endure challenges that were unusual in the typical university environment. As self-determination theory, self-regulated learning theory, and social cognitive theory would suggest, college students’ need for satisfaction of autonomy and the ability to apply self-regulation may have been neglected due to COVID-related stressors (SDT; Ryan & Deci, 2000; SRLT; Zimmerman, 2012; SCT; Bandura, 2005). College students from a university (N = 94) participated in an online survey regarding their autonomy, self-regulated learning abilities, academic self-efficacy, and COVID-related stress. Using a moderated mediation model, the current study predicted that self-regulated learning would mediate the relationship between college students’ autonomy and academic self-efficacy (H1). For moderation, the relationship between autonomy and academic self-efficacy was expected to depend on the level of students’ COVID-related stress (H2). Within the mediation, this study found that autonomy predicted self-regulated learning (H1A), self-regulated learning predicted academic self-efficacy (H1B), and autonomy predicted academic self-efficacy (H1C). For this moderated mediation, the results indicated partial support of the study’s hypotheses: H1 was supported, but not H2. As seen through the findings within this study, as well as supported by previous literature, autonomy support is a vital component of student’s academic success. College instructors play a crucial role in providing autonomy and self-regulation support to their students. When students feel autonomous, they can apply the necessary skills of self-regulation to achieve academic self-efficacy.

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