Higher Learning Research Communications

Digital Object Identifier



Author1, ORCID: 0000-0002-4729-3029

Author2, ORCID: 0000-0003-1053-3647


Objectives: The purpose of the study was to explore the association between older women’s subjective perceptions of available social support, their coping strategies, self-reported wellness, and stressors experienced as online students studying during the pandemic.

Method: A convenience sample of 115 older adult women learners (Mean age = 40.88, SD = 11.27) studying online in March 2021 in one of the world’s largest providers of higher-education distance-learning courses was gathered using a survey methodology.

Results: Using structural equation modelling, we showed that perceptions of social support were associated with a higher use of positive coping and a lower use of negative coping strategies, ultimately improving markers of wellness and reducing student stressors.

Conclusions: The results indicate that those who perceived that social support from significant others would be available upon request utilised more adaptive coping strategies to deal with study-related adversities during the COVID pandemic.

Implications: The study highlighted the importance of embracing older students’ own capacity to cope with adversity and emphasizing that one-to-one support can be available if needed.