Is the impact of COVID-19 on pupils’ mental wellbeing associated with its impact on pupils’ learning performance? A multilevel approach among Dutch secondary education pupils.

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In March 2020, the COVID-19 virus forced schools to cancel in-person education. The shift to distance learning generally has a negative influence on both the mental wellbeing and learning performance of adolescents. This is alarming, given the enormous social-economic impact. The relationship between mental wellbeing and learning performance in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic is underexplored. This research aims to fill this gap in the literature by analyzing the relationship between the change in mental wellbeing and the change in learning performance, taking heterogeneity into account, among 569 pupils of a secondary education institution in the Netherlands. A random coefficient model is used to test the hypothesis that learning performance is decreased for pupils that experience a decrease in mental wellbeing, relative to the other pupils, while allowing the effect to vary between (groups of) pupils, which is a school department in this research. The conclusions of this research are that (1) the decrease in learning performance is bigger for pupils who feel more anxious to be near other people, (2) changes in other symptoms of mental wellbeing do not explain the difference in learning performance, (3) the impact differs between courses, and (4) between (groups of) pupils.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen