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June 22, 2020
June 22, 2020
June 26, 2021
The mental well being of undergraduate students is a growing concern among engineering programs. We broadly define mental wellness to be a state in which students are generally happy, healthy, and engaged with multiple aspects of their lives. Students experiencing mental wellness are able to deal with the inevitable stresses of life, use positive coping strategies, and are able to find and maintain a sustainable work-life balance. A recent study at a large public institution in the West found that 38% of engineering students who responded to a mental health survey (n > 700) screened as high risk of serious mental illness. When broken down by major, 25% of the materials engineering student respondents were at high risk, and 28% of the mechanical engineering student respondents were at high risk, compared to 38% for the overall engineering population. These two programs represent the smallest and largest departments, respectively, within the College of Engineering, and have significantly different cultures as a result.
Although there are resources on campus to help students with their mental well being, these resources are largely focused on addressing mental health concerns after problems have occurred for the students. In addition, major-specific courses are where students first learn the norms of their discipline’s culture, which potentially include an unhealthy work-life balance that can lead to increased mental health risks. We are interested in integrating mental well being into the academic function of the university and addressing engineering culture in an impactful way. Doing this is difficult without first knowing what students’ goals around mental well being are. Hence, this research seeks to answer: What types of goals, related to mental well being, are important to materials engineering and mechanical engineering students?
We asked students enrolled in one sophomore-level materials engineering course (n=42) and one sophomore-level mechanical engineering course (n=36) to identify a goal related to improving their mental wellness, and then construct an action plan to help them achieve that goal. Students submitted revised action plans every two weeks after answering prompts to help them reflect on their progress toward achieving their goal. We conducted a thematic analysis of the finalized action plans to determine the most salient mental well being goals. Data analysis and preliminary results will be completed in January 2020.
Johnson-Glauch, N., & Cooper, L. A., & Harding, T. S. (2020, June), Goal-setting as a Means of Improved Mental Health Outcomes for Materials and Mechanical Engineering Students Paper presented at 2020 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual On line . 10.18260/1-2--34710
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