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Engineering Students Coping With COVID-19: Yoga, Meditation, and Mental Health

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Conference

2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access

Location

Virtual Conference

Publication Date

July 26, 2021

Start Date

July 26, 2021

End Date

July 19, 2022

Conference Session

Ethics, Mindfulness, and Reform During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Tagged Division

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society

Tagged Topic

Diversity

Page Count

13

Permanent URL

https://strategy.asee.org/37073

Download Count

45

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Paper Authors

biography

Kacey Beddoes San Jose State University

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Kacey Beddoes is a Project Director in the College of Engineering Dean's Office at San Jose State University. She holds a Ph.D. in Science and Technology Studies (STS) from Virginia Tech, along with graduate certificates in Women’s and Gender Studies, and Engineering Education. Dr. Beddoes serves as Associate Editor for the Australasian Journal of Engineering Education and Managing Editor for Engineering Studies. She is also the past Chair of the Working Group on Gender and Diversity for the European Society of Engineering Education. Further information can be found on her website: www.sociologyofengineering.org.

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biography

Andrew Danowitz California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-4842-2005

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Andrew Danowitz received his PhD in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 2014. He is currently an Associate Professor of Computer Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo. His engineering education interests include student mental health, retention, and motivation.

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Abstract

In 2020, we conducted a nationwide online survey of undergraduate engineering students in the United States to examine how the novel coronavirus pandemic was affecting engineering students’ mental health and what strategies they were using to cope with mental health challenges. The survey was a compilation of validated mental health instruments that screen for depression, anxiety, somatoform disorders, eating disorders, non-specific psychological distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Given that prior research has shown that yoga and meditation can help people suffering from anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder, we were interested in exploring the subset of respondents who said that they were using yoga and/or meditation to cope with mental health challenges during the pandemic. The research questions addressed in this paper are: 1) What are the demographic characteristics of students who used yoga and/or meditation to cope with mental health challenges of the 2020 novel coronavirus pandemic? and 2) Does the mental health of the students who used these strategies differ in any from the mental health of students who did not use yoga and meditation coping strategies? Based on 669 responses from students at 140 different universities, we found that there were 20 survey items for which the yoga/meditation group fared statistically significantly differently than the non-yoga/meditation group. These 20 items appeared in the screens for depression, anxiety, somatoform disorders, eating disorders, non-specific psychological distress, and post-traumatic stress disorder. For example, yoga and meditation practitioners were significantly less likely to have experienced feelings of hopelessness during the prior 30 days, as well as to have experienced feelings of being so depressed that nothing could cheer them up. A causative relationship cannot be claimed, but the correlations we found align with prior research showing that yoga and meditation can support many aspects of mental health.

Beddoes, K., & Danowitz, A. (2021, July), Engineering Students Coping With COVID-19: Yoga, Meditation, and Mental Health Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. https://strategy.asee.org/37073

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