Lockdown Learning: Changes in Online Foreign-Language Study Activity and Performance of Dutch Secondary School Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Maarten van der Velde*, Florian Sense, Rinske Spijkers, Martijn Meeter, Hedderik van Rijn

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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The COVID-19 pandemic caused lockdowns and sudden school closures around the world in spring 2020, significantly impacting the education of students. Here, we investigate how the switch to distance learning affected study activity and performance in an online retrieval practice tool used for language learning in Dutch secondary education. We report insights from a rich data set consisting of over 115 million retrieval practice trials completed by more than 133 thousand students over the course of two consecutive school years. Our findings show that usage of the tool increased substantially at the start of lockdown, with the bulk of study activity occurring on weekday mornings. In general, students’ progress through the material was largely unaffected by lockdown, although students from the highest educational track were somewhat more likely to be on or ahead of schedule than students from lower tracks, compared to the previous year. Performance on individual study trials was generally stable, but accuracy and response time on open answer questions went up, perhaps as a result of students being more focused at home. These encouraging findings contribute to a growing literature on the educational ramifications of distance learning during lockdown.

Original languageEnglish
Article number712987
Number of pages8
JournalFrontiers in Education
Publication statusPublished - 3-Aug-2021


  • COVID-19
  • distance learning
  • learning analytics
  • secondary education
  • Technology-enhanced learning

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