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Title: Factors influencing help seeking and help avoidant behaviors among physics and life science majors
Students' use of support from peers and instructors is an important aspect of success in college. This preliminary phenomenographic study examines a variety of help seeking behaviors of undergraduate majors in physics and life sciences and factors that lead to those behaviors. Seven students described their experiences using semi-structured interviews during the summer of 2021. The analysis was structured around identifying characteristics of peers and instructors, as well as personal help-seeking attitudes, that either promoted help seeking or help avoidance. Peers were generally the first source of help, and were prioritized based on ability and the closeness of the relationship. Instructors fostered help seeking through availability and a non-judgemental demeanor. A feeling of vulnerability and fear of judgement was cited as the most common reason for avoiding help. The findings provide insights for faculty and departments seeking to encourage student success.  more » « less
Award ID(s):
Author(s) / Creator(s):
; ; ;
Frank, Brian W.; Jones, Dyan L.; Ryan, Qing X.
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Physics Education Research Conference 2022
Page Range / eLocation ID:
176 to 181
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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    Engineering stakeholders must improve access to professional help for engineering students. Implementing changes to normalize help‐seeking behaviors, enhance personal agency, and facilitate engagement with mental health resources will create better conditions for engineers. Further research is necessary to understand how other beliefs (e.g., attitudes, perceived norms) inform the relationships between student mental health, professional help seeking, and engineering culture.

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