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Alone again, naturally? Loneliness and performance among STEM graduate students




Stoa, Rosalyn, author
Fisher, Gwenith, advisor
Dik, Bryan, committee member
Prasad, Joshua, committee member
Stromberger, Mary, committee member

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Graduate student mental health is a trending topic of research, and rightfully so considering the growing number of graduate students, high rate of mental health concerns particularly among young adults, and the high rate of attrition from graduate programs. Qualitative research has consistently raised isolation and loneliness as concerns for many doctoral students. Not only is loneliness an issue for mental health and wellbeing, but loneliness may have serious consequences for students' motivation, satisfaction, intentions to stay in school, and the current and future productivity of these scholars. Based on the tenets of self determination theory and the model of workplace loneliness, I hypothesized that perceived loneliness in doctoral students would be negatively related to motivation, satisfaction, productivity and intent to quit. The current study extends previous research by exploring loneliness in doctoral students in a large-scale (N = 1117) quantitative survey to investigate perceptions of loneliness, motivation, engagement, satisfaction, and productivity among doctoral students in STEM fields. Using structural equation modeling (SEM) to test hypotheses, results demonstrated that loneliness was negatively related to satisfaction with program, motivation, and productivity, and explained 49% of the variance of intent to quit. Relationship with advisor mediated the relationship between loneliness and motivation, but not satisfaction with program or productivity. Results may inform graduate programs with students who may be at higher risk of loneliness and/or attrition and may guide future interventions to prevent or reduce loneliness in graduate students.


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Embargo Expires: 05/24/2024


intent to quit
graduate students


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