Date of Award

May 2021

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Educational Psychology

First Advisor

Jacqueline Nguyen

Committee Members

Susie Lamborn, Christopher Lawson, Jeremy Page

Keywords

belonging, goal pursuits, grit, institutional compassion, pandemic stress

Abstract

ABSTRACTAN EXAMINATION OF WHETHER GRIT, BELONGING AND INSTITUTIONAL COMPASSION CONTRIBUTE TO EMERGING ADULT GOAL PURSUITS AND REDUCE PANDEMIC-RELATED STRESS

by

Cynthia A. M. Schmahl

The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, May 2021Under the Supervision of Professor Jacqueline Nguyen, Ph.D.

This dissertation examines the merits of grit and belonging for emerging adults’ collegiate goal pursuits and the influence of institutional compassion amid COVID-19 challenges and stress. Participants were traditional full-time, undergraduate students ages 18-24, recruited from a national sample using Qualtrics, an online survey tool (N = 258; 60% women; 47.31% White, 18.46% Black/African American, 17.31% Asian, 10.77% Hispanic/Latino/a/x). Participants completed a survey including two measures developed for this study—institutional compassion and goal progress—and measures of grit, belonging, and pandemic-related stress.Grit and sense of belonging predicted goal progress. Grit subscales had differentiated results—adaptability to situations and perseverance of effort predicted goal progress; consistency of interest did not. Independently, sense of belonging was a stronger predictor of goal progress than grit. Participants with weaker sense of belonging exhibited more pandemic-related stress; participants higher in grit had lower pandemic-related stress overall. Institutional compassion strongly associated with grit, sense of belonging, and stress; in particular, as institutional compassion increased, sense of belonging increased, and pandemic-related stress decreased. Grit, belonging, and institutional compassion are important to students’ perceptions of goal progress and stress. Keywords: belonging, grit, goal pursuits, institutional compassion, pandemic stress

Available for download on Thursday, December 02, 2021

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