Navigating Disruptions

Ms Jenny Pollock | Deputy Curriculum | Grammar News | 3 September 2021

Building students’ capacity to navigate disruptions can help them grow and achieve during COVID-19 and beyond.

New research by Professor Andrew Martin and his team at UNSW on the importance of adaptability for students negotiating the changing online learning environment of COVID-19 reveals that adaptability has a direct positive impact on students’ achievement growth and further affected students’ achievement through its positive impact on their online learning confidence.

The study involved a survey of 1548 Australian High School students in 2020 and examined their adaptability during a period of full or partial remote online learning. Students also answered questions about their confidence as online learners, online learning challenges such as access to technology, and at-home support. The study found that students’ adaptability in Term 2 correlated with higher levels of online learning confidence and improved students’ academic results in Term 4. Online learning confidence in Term 2 also linked to stronger academic results in Term 4.

The take-home message from this is summed up by Professor Martin who indicates that:


If we help students now to make credible connections to the benefits of adaptability, they can be motivated to adapt in future…. Inspiring students to practise their adjustments to behaviour, thinking, and feelings can make adaptability become a routine part of their lives that can help them navigate disruptions during COVID-19 and beyond.


  • Martin, A. et al. (2021) Adaptability and High School Students' Online Learning During COVID-19. August 2021. Frontiers in Psychology.
  • UNSW Media. 2021. Helping students adapt to online learning sets them up for success. 19 August 2021.