Where is my community?

What happened to the engagement and career orientation for first-year students during the pandemic

  • Helena Kantanen University of Eastern Finland
  • Leena Penttinen University of Jyväskylä
  • Päivi Rosenius University of Eastern Finland
  • Katri Ruth University of Eastern Finland
Keywords: career orientation, engagement, first-year experience, online learning, pandemic, self-determination theory


This study examines relatedness, self-efficacy, autonomy and career orientation of the student
cohort of 2020 whose first semester consisted mainly of online teaching because of the
restrictions caused by the COVID-19. Comparisons are made to our previous study of the 2018
cohort when we found that the key factors of motivation and engagement were a supportive
study community and meetings with alumni. These elements were absent in 2020 but these
deficits did not endanger students’ motivation. Both groups had challenges with academic study
skills. Therefore, attention must be paid to the academic study skills of first-year students, and
to the needs of relatedness of the ‘COVID cohort’.


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4.3 The Future of Nordic Business Education