skip to main content

Attention:

The NSF Public Access Repository (NSF-PAR) system and access will be unavailable from 5:00 PM ET until 11:00 PM ET on Friday, June 21 due to maintenance. We apologize for the inconvenience.


Search for: All records

Award ID contains: 1929484

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Mental health issues have long posed a challenge on university campuses. While no population is immune, research has shown that students from marginalised backgrounds can have higher rates of mental health issues and suffer worse outcomes as a result. These discrepancies have been attributed to everything from different cultural norms to the micro-aggressions and other barriers that students from marginalised populations face on university campuses. With the onset of COVID-19 in the United States, many residential universities switched to a remote learning model, fundamentally changing the relationship between students, campus, family support. This work uses survey data from students in the United States to explore how COVID-19 affected mental health issues among students from different backgrounds. While the pandemic drastically increased rates of depressive disorder among all respondents, discrepancies between mental health rates for women and Hispanic/Latinx compared to men and White respondents either decreased or disappeared. Additionally, respondents identifying as Asians were less likely to screen positive for several mental health conditions than White, Non-Hispanic respondents. These findings may point to important new insights about the ways in which engineering education undermines some groups’ mental health. 
    more » « less
  2. Several recent studies have documented high rates of mental health struggles among engineering students [1]–[4]. To date, however, studies of mental health in engineering have been limited to primarily quantitative surveys. This paper advances the research landscape by presenting findings from an interview study with current and former engineering students. The interview data can help explain quantitative findings from previous studies and provide deeper insights into relationships between engineering culture and mental health. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with fourteen undergraduate students from five universities in four different states in the United States. Through the interviews, we identified seven specific features of engineering and engineering education that undermined students’ mental health. Furthermore, our analysis identifies not only what aspects of engineering education undermine mental health but also explains how they do so. While the interviews were conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic in fall of 2020, the experiences reported by students were primarily pre-pandemic experiences, and are not specific to pandemic conditions. In addition to elucidating the seven aspects presented in the Findings, one aim in identifying and discussing these features is to challenge tacit or taken-for-granted notions that these aspects of engineering education are given, necessary, unchangeable, or desirable. Shedding light on the ways in which the features identified in this paper impact students can help engineering educators, administrators, and other students critically reflect on how their role in perpetuating these characteristics affects students and the engineering education system as a whole. 
    more » « less
  3. This research full paper presents screening rates for mental health issues and life-stress events in engineering-focused community college students during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. Specifically, it attempts to answer the following research questions: 1) What is the overall rate of various mental health conditions among engineering-focused community college students, 2) What effects has the pandemic had on baseline stress levels engineering-focused community college, and 3) What effects has the pandemic had on quality of life, such as sleep habits and financial security of engineering- focused community college students? Data for this paper was collected via survey from May–July 2020 and includes responses from 84 students at 24 community colleges. The survey itself was a compilation of several widely- used instruments for measuring overall mental health and stress levels in a population. These instruments include the Kessler-6 for psychological distress, the PHQ for anxiety, depression, and eating disorders, the PC-PTSD for PTSD-like symptoms, and the SRRS for inventorying stressful life events. Among the major findings, 32% of respondents reported a major change in financial situation, 27% reported loss of employment, and 13% reported ceasing formal schooling because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, 32% of respondents reported that the COVID-19 pandemic worsened their housing security situation, 38% reported that COVID-19 has worsened their food security situation, and 36% report that COVID-19 has decreased their ability to access instruction, course materials, or course supplies. Finally, of respondents who completed at least one mental health screening instrument, 70% screened positive for at least one potentially diagnosable condition, while only 9% reported ever receiving a mental health diagnosis. Index Terms—Community College, Mental Health, Disability, Accessibility, Equity, Inclusion, Wellness 
    more » « less
  4. null (Ed.)
    This work in progress research paper characterizes mental wellness in engineering at five institutions across the Western United States to better understand what mental health issues most affect the broader engineering student community. Anecdotal evidence has long suggested that stress and certain mental wellness issues are particularly acute in the field of Engineering, and some recent research has shown elevated rates of mental wellness issues at different institutions around the country. This paper presents the results of a previously validated mental health survey conducted with first– and second–year students at several universities. The results of this work include screening rates for major mental health issues (e.g. DSM diagnosable) and moderate mental health issues as captured by the Kessler 6 screening instrument; screening rates for depressive, anxiety, and eating disorders as measured by the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ); and screening rates for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as measured by the Primary-Care Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PC-PTSD) instrument. This work also includes a preliminary analysis of screen rates by demographic groups so that educators and academic facilitators may be better aware of the types of challenges that face a diverse engineering student populace. Overall, we find that 28.4% percent of respondents potentially suffer from a diagnosable mental health condition as measured by Kessler 6. We also find that an additional 55.2% of students screen positive for moderate psychological distress. Breaking measurements down by demographic groups, we find that female respondents, particularly those from historically excluded ethnic groups and races, show elevated rates of Panic and PTSD disorders when compared to the male population. 
    more » « less
  5. null (Ed.)