Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Cognitive Neuroscience


Jennifer A. Mangels

Subject Categories

Cardiovascular Diseases | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Holistic Education | Other Education | Other Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health


covid, resilience, academic, motivation


Of concern to educators, post-COVID-19 assessments have revealed significant achievement gaps in student performance, as well as significant decreases in adolescent mental health. Less is known about changes in achievement motivation. Here we ask how students perceive their own motivation and whether it changed between “before” the pandemic to the present (Fall 2022 - Spring 2023), about three years after the beginning of the pandemic when many school routines were returning to “normal.” To understand how variance in these perceived changes might be related to pandemic-related stressors, trait resilience, and current mental health, we conducted a large survey study (N = 433) of undergraduates at an urban institution serving communities heavily impacted by COVID-19. Students were asked to evaluate themselves currently vs. pre-pandemic on two subscales of the S-GRIT (Duckworth & Quinn, 2009): consistency of interest in long-term goals and perseverance of effort toward goals. Our sample showed a significant decrease in perceived perseverance, while passion for long-term goals remained the same. When analyzing the relationship between self-reports of peak COVID-related stress via the COVID-19 Stressor Scale (Park et al., 2021) and resilience via the CD-RISC (Connor & Davidson, 2003), we found no relationship between COVID-19 stress and changes in motivation, but we did find that positive increases in resilience from peak-pandemic to present were associated with positive increases in perseverance from pre-pandemic to the present. Finally, a comprehensive structural equation model was specified, depicting upward shifts in resilience as a mediating variable between pandemic-specific stress and academic motivation. These findings suggest that students with better outcomes are those who gained resilience from the challenges during the peak of the pandemic, emphasizing the need for educational strategies that prioritize resilience to prepare students for future adversities.