Valerie Sotardi

Senior LecturerDr Valerie Sotardi

Rehua 420
Internal Phone: 93649
As an educational psychologist, I am interested in human cognition, motivation and emotion, behaviour, and their different applications to education.


Research Interests

Broadly, my expertise lies within the study of motivation and its impact on learning.

My research tends to focus on social cognition within the classroom. This includes understanding how students perceive their learning environment (such as teacher support, fairness/equity, student cohesiveness, task engagement) and the extent to which those perceptions interact with emotions (such as boredom and anxiety), self-beliefs, goal pursuit, interest, causal attributions, and other important dynamics. A central focus is to understand how a student's unique relationship with ideas and other people can improve learning, identity, and performance.

I have conducted extensive research on stress and coping in learning situations across the lifespan. This generally includes the day-to-day stressors that students experience, the (effective and ineffective) ways that students respond to stress, how the learning environment can better support individuals and classrooms, and the differential effects on academic achievement and personal wellbeing.

My current direction aims to examine how students from diverse backgrounds and age levels understand the concept of “achievement.” My future research agenda focuses on identifying factors which shape students’ perceptions of success and failure and the extent to which these perceptions influence academic motivation, attitudes and approaches to learning, and performance outcomes.

Recent Publications

  • Sotardi V., Surtees N., Vincent K. and Johnston H. (2021) Belonging and Adjustment for LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ Students during the Social Transition to University Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education.
  • Sotardi V., Taylor L., Brogt E., Cheer U. and Baird N. (2021) Influences on students’ interest in a legal career, satisfaction with law school, & psychological distress: trends in New Zealand. Law Teacher
  • Sotardi VA., Surtees N., Vincent K. and Johnston H. (2021) Belonging and adjustment for LGBTQ+ and non-LGBTQ+ students during the social transition to university.. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education
  • Sotardi VA., Watson P., Swit C., Roy D. and Bajaj M. (2021) Adolescent stress, help-seeking intentions, subjective achievement and life satisfaction in New Zealand: Tests of mediation, moderated mediation and moderation. Stress and Health 37(4): 650-668.
  • Watson P., Sotardi V., Park J. and Roy D. (2021) Gender Self-Confidence, Scholastic Stress, Life Satisfaction, and Perceived Academic Achievement for Adolescent New Zealanders. Journal of Adolescence.