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Article
Publication date: 4 February 2021

John A. Gonzalez, Heeyun Kim and Allyson Flaster

The purpose of this study is to examine doctoral students’ developmental trajectories in well-being and disciplinary identity during the first three years of doctoral study.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to examine doctoral students’ developmental trajectories in well-being and disciplinary identity during the first three years of doctoral study.

Design/methodology/approach

This study relies on data from a longitudinal study of PhD students enrolled at a large, research-intensive university in the USA. A group-based trajectory modeling approach is used to examine varying trajectories of well-being and disciplinary identity.

Findings

The authors find that students’ physical health, mental health and disciplinary identity generally decline during the first few years of doctoral study. Despite this common downward trend, the results suggest that six different developmental trajectories exist. Students’ backgrounds and levels of stress, psychological needs satisfaction, anticipatory socialization experiences and prior academic success predict group membership.

Originality/value

Although there is emergent evidence of a mental health crisis in graduate education scant evidence exists about the way in which well-being changes over time as students progress through their doctoral studies. There is also little evidence of how these changes might be related to academic processes such as the development of disciplinary identity. This study reported varying baseline degrees of well-being and disciplinary identity and offers that stress and unmet psychological needs might be partially responsible for varying trajectories.

Details

Studies in Graduate and Postdoctoral Education, vol. 12 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 2398-4686

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