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How Do COVID-19 Anxieties Impact Undergraduates' Learning? Examining Mind-Wandering and Cognitive Emotion Regulation Instruction

Sat, April 10, 2:30 to 3:30pm EDT (2:30 to 3:30pm EDT), Division C, Division C - Section 2a: Cognitive and Motivational Processes Poster Sessions


The COVID-19 pandemic presents a highly salient source of pressure for students. It is critical to understand whether and how COVID-19 anxiety harms learning and engagement, and if so, how we may mitigate any deleterious effects. We examined 179 undergraduates’ learning from a brief neuroscience video lesson. Students reported COVID-19 anxieties, then were randomly assigned to receive positive reappraisal (PR), cognitive reattribution (CR), or no emotion regulation instructions. Congruent with literatures on anxiety and performance, COVID-19 anxieties hindered students’ learning by increasing mind wandering during learning. Effects of PR and CR were less clear, though data suggest that only lower-anxious students improved in performance after emotion regulation instruction. Next steps include analyzing long-term effects of COVID-19 anxiety on students’ GPAs.