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Eberle, Julia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9939-2160 and Hobrecht, Joyce (August 2021): The lonely struggle with autonomy: A case study of first-year university students’ experiences during emergency online teaching. In: Computers in Human Behavior, Vol. 121, 106804

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This paper explores how first-year students experienced emergency online teaching during COVID-19 and aims at understanding individual experiences related to basic psychological need satisfaction, considering different levels of contextual facilitators for learning activities involving technology in higher education derived from the C-flat model. Employing a case study approach, interviews of 15 chemistry students were qualitatively analyzed. The results show negative effects of lacking internet connectivity and concurrence of learning and home spaces but positive effects of ceased commute between home and campus. Teachers' implementation of digital learning opportunities was perceived as adequate but did not sufficiently address the overwhelming increase in students' autonomy and decrease in social relatedness. Students' self-regulation skills as well as skills to initiate and maintain social contacts for interactive learning activities and for motivational support emerged as crucial aspects. Many students were not able to cope appropriately and students' need satisfaction during emergency online teaching appeared to be related to students’ prior need satisfaction resulting in five groups of students, with two being relatively resilient and three being vulnerable to the disruptions of regular onsite teaching. Implications for further research and practice are discussed.

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