July 26, 2021
July 26, 2021
July 19, 2022
The poor mental health experiences of graduate students, particularly in STEM fields, have recently received increased attention as it has been considered a major concern in academia (Nature Editorials, 2019). As a result, the Instagram account titled PhD Balance (formerly Ph_D_pression) was started in 2017 to help graduate students share their stories related to mental health and resilience in graduate school. As graduate school can be isolating, sharing experiences publicly can help others to recognize that they are not alone in the difficulties of academia. Through these stories, we can also learn more about the most common struggles in the graduate student experience and the most common ways students’ cope with these challenges. Therefore, 509 number of posts (all posts from the start of the page through May 2020) on the PhD Balance Instagram account were collected and analyzed through thematic coding. Through this process, the researchers identified common triggers of stress across the graduate student posts and determined the kinds of mental illness or stress they experienced in graduate school as well as their related coping mechanisms. The reliability of the coding process was addressed by having two additional coders independently code 15% of the data with the same codebook as the original researcher. Comparisons between each of the individual coded documents were made to determine the amount of overlap and potential bias of the original researcher. As a result, this study provides information that can be beneficial for higher education institutions to (1) better mitigate the most common stressors in graduate school and (2) provide enhanced mental health support to graduate students. These efforts could then result in better outcomes for graduate students, as well as a better workplace environment for all those in higher education.
Klein, L., & Strimel, G. J. (2021, July), Graduate Student Experiences As Told Through Instagram Posts Paper presented at 2021 ASEE Virtual Annual Conference Content Access, Virtual Conference. 10.18260/1-2--37233
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