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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 23, 2023
  2. null (Ed.)
    Purpose Rising rates of anxiety and depression and the varied costs of these conditions indicate a clear need to create learning environments in which graduate and professional students can more readily thrive. However, the absence of multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary evidence about mental health in graduate education has obscured a clear picture of which populations, contexts and social dynamics merit focused attention and resources. The purpose of this study is therefore to analyze prevalence and risk factors associated with anxiety and depression among a large sample of graduate students, with special attention to how graduate education environments and interactions may be associated with mental health. Design/methodology/approach This paper offers the first multi-institutional, multi-disciplinary analysis of depression and anxiety among US graduate and professional students. Using a sample of 20,888 students randomly sampled within 69 universities, the author compares depression and anxiety prevalence among fields of study with hierarchical cluster modeling. Then, using a conceptual framework that links social support, role strain and self-determination theories, the author estimates fixed effects multivariate logistic regressions to measure how depression and anxiety are associated with experiencing racial discrimination, support from friends and family, perceived competitiveness in one’s classes, and comfort speaking with one’s professors about mentalmore »health. Findings Graduate students who endure frequent racial discrimination have odds of screening positive for depression and anxiety that are 2.3 and 3.0 times higher, respectively, than those who never experience discrimination. Support from family and friends moderates these relationships and perceived competitiveness exacerbates them. LGBTQ students and students who self-report that finances are a struggle or tight also have higher odds of depression and anxiety. Students in the humanities, arts and architecture have significantly higher prevalence of depression and anxiety than the sample as a whole. Originality/value The paper offers broadest base of evidence to date about patterns that are usually experienced at the individual level or analyzed institution-by-institution and field-by-field. Specifically, the author identified social dynamics, fields of study and populations where attention to wellbeing may be especially warranted. The conceptual framework and multivariate results clarify how organizational and individual factors in graduate students’ mental health may be intertwined through competitive, discriminatory, or supportive interactions with peers, faculty, family and friends. Findings clarify a need for awareness of the contexts and interactions that graduate students experience as well as individual factors that are associated with student wellbeing.« less
  3. We provide statistical measures and additional analyses showing that our original analyses were sound. We use a generalized linear mixed model to account for program-to-program differences with program as a random effect without stratifying with tier and found the GRE-P (Graduate Record Examination physics test) effect is not different from our previous findings, thereby alleviating concern of collider bias. Variance inflation factors for each variable were low, showing that multicollinearity was not a concern. We show that range restriction is not an issue for GRE-P or GRE-V (GRE verbal), and only a minor issue for GRE-Q (GRE quantitative). Last, we use statistical measures of model quality to show that our published models are better than or equivalent to several alternates.
  4. This study aims to understand the effectiveness of typical admissions criteria in identifying students who will complete the Physics Ph.D. Multivariate statistical analysis of roughly one in eight physics Ph.D. students from 2000 to 2010 indicates that the traditional admissions metrics of undergraduate grade point average (GPA) and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Quantitative, Verbal, and Physics Subject Tests do not predict completion as effectively admissions committees presume. Significant associations with completion were found for undergraduate GPA in all models and for GRE Quantitative in two of four studied models; GRE Physics and GRE Verbal were not significant in any model. It is notable that completion changed by less than 10% for U.S. physics major test takers scoring in the 10th versus 90th percentile on the Quantitative test. Aside from these limitations in predicting Ph.D. completion overall, overreliance on GRE scores in admissions processes also selects against underrepresented groups.