Coping and adjustment during COVID-19

Experiences of Chinese international doctoral students in the United States

Authors

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v14i3b.4085

Abstract

While the initial outbreak of COVID-19 in China impacted Chinese international students’ families’ lives, the spread of the virus in the U.S. heavily influenced their own. Drawing upon the stress and coping model (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), this qualitative study unpacks Chinese doctoral students’ experiences and coping at one large research university in the U.S. during the pandemic. The open-ended interviews with eight Chinese international doctoral students revealed the stressors associated with the sudden changes in participants’ personal, social and academic lives. Findings showed that participants experienced learning obstacles, health concerns, funding uncertainties, and limited social interactions. Participants mainly utilized emotion-focused strategies to cope with the daily life stressors, the tense political climate and hate speech targeting Chinese people in the U.S. This study contributes to the dialogue about stress coping in the pandemic and suggests education practitioners possible improvements in student services.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

References

Adnan, M., & Anwar, K. (2020). Online Learning amid the COVID-19 Pandemic: Students' Perspectives. Online Submission, 2(1), 45–51. http://www.doi.org/10.33902/JPSP. 2020261309

American College Health Association (2018). American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment II: Reference Group Executive Summary Fall 2017. Hanover, MD: American College Health Association.

Amirkhan, J. H. (1990). A factor analytically derived measure of coping: the coping strategy indicator. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 1066–74. http://www.doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.59.5.1066

Amponsah, M.O. (2010). Non UK University students stress levels and their coping strategies. Educational Research, 1(4), 88–99.

Baloran, E. (2020). Knowledge, attitudes, anxiety, and coping strategies of students during COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 25(8), 635–642. http://www.doi.org/10.1080/15325024.2020.1769300

Brooks, S. K., Webster, R. K., Smith, L. E., Woodland, L., Wessely, S., Greenberg, N., & Rubin, G. J. (2020). The psychological impact of quarantine and how to reduce it: Rapid review of the evidence. The Lancet, 395, 912–920. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30460-8

Brown, L., & Watson, P. (2010). Understanding the experiences of female doctoral students. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 34(3), 385-404. https://doi.org/10.1080/0309877X.2010.484056

Cao, W., Fang, Z., Hou, G., Han, M., Xu, X., Dong, J., & Zheng, J. (2020). The psychological impact of the COVID-19 epidemic on college students in China. Psychiatry research, 112934. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psychres.2020.112934

Castleberry, A., & Nolen, A. (2018). Thematic analysis of qualitative research data: Is it as easy as it sounds?. Currents in pharmacy teaching and learning, 10(6), 807-815. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cptl.2018.03.019

Chai, P. M. (2009). Religion/spirituality as a stress coping mechanism for international students (Doctoral dissertation, Auckland University of Technology).

Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. SAGE, Los Angeles, CA.

Chavajay, P., & Skowronek, J. (2008). Aspects of acculturation stress among international students attending a university in the USA. Psychological Reports, 103(3), 827–835. https://doi.org/10.2466/PR0.103.7.827-835

Ching, Y., Renes, S. L., McMurrow, S., Simpson, J., & Strange, A. T. (2017). Challenges facing Chinese international students studying in the United States. Educational Research and Reviews, 12(8), 473–482. https://doi.org/10.5897/err2016.3106

Compas, B. E., Connor-Smith, J. K., Saltzman, H., Thomsen, A. H., & Wadsworth, M. E. (2001). Coping with stress during childhood and adolescence: Problems, progress, and potential in theory and research. Psychological Bulletin, 127, 87–127. http://www.doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.127.1.87

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches. Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Creswell, J. W. & Poth, C. N. (2018). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among the five approaches (Fourth Edition). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Eisenberg, D., Golberstein, E., & Hunt, J. B. (2009). Mental health and academic success in college. The BE Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, 9(1). https://doi.org/10.2202/1935-1682.2191

Folkman, S., & Lazarus, R. (1988). Coping as a mediator of emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 54(3), 466–475. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-3514.54.3.466

Folkman, S., & Moskowitz, J. (2004). Coping: Pitfalls and promise. Annual Review of Psychology, 55, 745–774. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev.psych.55.090902.141456

Gardner, S., & Mendoza, S. (2010). On becoming a scholar: Socialization and development in doctoral education. Sterling, VA: Stylus Publishing.

Glass, C. R., & Westmont, C. M. (2014). Comparative effects of belongingness on the academic success and cross-cultural interactions of domestic and international students. International journal of intercultural relations, 38, 106-119. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2013.04.004

Gover, A., Harper, S., & Langton, L. (2020). Anti-Asian hate crime during the COVID-19 pandemic: Exploring the reproduction of inequality. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 45(4), 647–667. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-020-09545-1

Institute of International Education (IIE). (2020). United States Hosts Over 1 Million International Students for the Fifth Consecutive Year. https://www.iie.org/Why-IIE/Announcements/2020/11/2020-Open-Doors-Report

Lazarus R. S., & Folkman S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.

Le, T. & Gardner, S. K. (2010). Understanding the doctoral experience of Asian international students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields: An exploration of one institutional context. Journal of College Student Development, 51(3), 252–264. http://www.doi.org/10.1353/csd.0.0127

Lin, S., & Betz, N. E. (2009). Factors related to the social self-efficacy of Chinese international students. The Counseling Psychologist, 37(3), 451–471. https://doi.org/10.1177/0011000009332474

Main, A., Zhou, Q., Ma, Y., Luecken, L. J., & Liu, X. (2011). Relations of SARS-related stressors and coping to Chinese college students' psychological adjustment during the 2003 Beijing SARS epidemic. Journal of counseling psychology, 58(3), 410. http://www.doi.org/10.1037/a0023632

McClure, J. W. (2005). Preparing a laboratory-based thesis: Chinese international research students’ experiences of supervision. Teaching in Higher Education, 10(1), 3–16. http://www.doi.org/10.1080/1356251052000291530

Mena, F.J., Padilla, A. M., & Maldonado, M. (1987). Acculturative stress and specific coping strategies among immigrant and later generation college students. Hispanic Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 9(2), 207–225. http://www.doi.org/10.1177/07399863870092006

Miller, I. F., Becker, A. D., Grenfell, B. T., & Metcalf, C. J. E. (2020). Disease and healthcare burden of COVID-19 in the United States. Nature Medicine, 26(8), 1212–1217. http://www.doi.org/10.1038/s41591-020-0952-y

Moore, J. L., & Constantine, M. G. (2005). Development and initial validation of the collectivistic coping styles measure with African, Asian, and Latin American international students. Journal of Mental Health Counseling, 27(4), 329-347. https://doi.org/10.17744/mehc.27.4.frcqxuy1we5nwpqe

Moustakas, C. (1994). Phenomenological research methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pásztor, A., & Wakeling, P. (2018). All PhDs Are Equal but ... Institutional and Social Stratification in Access to the Doctorate. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 39(7), 982–997. https://doi.org/10.1080/01425692.2018.1434407

Park, C. L., & Folkman, S. (1997). Meaning in the context of stress and coping. Review of general psychology, 1(2), 115-144. http://www.doi.org/10.1037/1089-2680.1.2.115

Presidential Documents. (2020). Suspension of Entry as Nonimmigrants of Certain Students and Researchers from the People’s Republic of China. Federal Register, 85(108), 34353–34355. https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2020-06-04/pdf/2020-12217.pdf

Rogowska, A. M., Kuśnierz, C., & Bokszczanin, A. (2020). Examining anxiety, life satisfaction, general health, stress and coping styles during COVID-19 pandemic in Polish sample of university students. Psychology Research and Behavior Management, 13, 797. http://www.doi.org/10.2147/PRBM.S266511

Saldaña, J. (2016). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Salmons, J. (2012). Designing and conducting research with online interviews. In Salmons, J. (Ed.), Cases in online interview research (pp. 1–30). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Sapranaviciute, L., Perminas, A., & Kavaliauskaite, E. (2011). Structure of stress coping strategies in university students. International Journal of Psychology: A Biopsychosocial Approach, 8, 9–28.

Schmidt, M., & Hansson, E. (2018). Doctoral students’ well-being: A literature review. International journal of qualitative studies on health and well-being, 13(1), 1508171. https://doi.org/10.1080/17482631.2018.1508171

Shi, Q. (2018). School-Based Counseling in Mainland China: Past, Present, and Future. Journal of School- Based Counseling Policy and Evaluation, 1(1), 17-25. https://doi.org/10.25774/p7xm-yg61

Smith, R. A., & Khawaja, N. G. (2011). A review of the acculturation experiences of international students. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 35, 699–713. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijintrel.2011.08.004.

Son, C., Hegde, S., Smith, A., Wang, X., & Sasangohar, F. (2020). Effects of COVID-19 on college students’ mental health in the United States: Interview survey study. Journal of medical internet research, 22(9), e21279. https://doi.org/10.2196/21279

Sturges, J. E. & Hanrahan, K. J. (2004). Comparing telephone and face-to-face qualitative interviewing: A research note. Qualitative Research, 4(1), 107–18. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794104041110

Su, M., & Harrison, L. M. (2016). Being wholesaled: An investigation of Chinese international students’ higher education experiences. Journal of International Students, 6(4), 905–919. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v6i4.325

Sustarsic, M., & Zhang, J. (2021). Navigating Through Uncertainty in the Era of COVID-19: Experiences of International Graduate Students in the United States. Journal of International Students, 12(1), 61–80. https://doi.org/10.32674/jis.v12i1.3305

Sverdlik, A., Hall, N. C., McAlpine, L., & Hubbard, K. (2018). The PhD experience: A review of the factors influencing doctoral students’ completion, achievement, and well-being. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 13(1), 361-388. https://doi.org/10.28945/4113

Tanner, K. D. (2013). Structure matters: twenty-one teaching strategies to promote student engagement and cultivate classroom equity. CBE—Life Sciences Education, 12(3), 322-331. https://doi.org/10.1187/cbe.13-06-0115

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. (2020, July 6). SEVP modifies temporary exemptions for nonimmigrant students taking online courses during fall 2020 semester. https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/sevp-modifies-temporary-exemptions-nonimmigrant-students-taking-online-courses-during

Usher, K., Bhullar, N., & Jackson, D. (2020). Life in the pandemic: Social isolation and mental health. Journal of Clinical Nursing, 2756–2757. http://www.doi.org/10.1111/jocn.15290

van Nes, F., Abma, T., Jonsson, H., & Deeg, D. (2010). Language differences in qualitative research: Is meaning lost in translation? European Journal of Ageing, 7(4), 313–316. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10433-010-0168-y

Wang, C. C. D., & Mallinckrodt, B. (2006). Acculturation, attachment, and psychosocial adjust- ment of Chinese/Taiwanese international students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 53(4), 422–433. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.53.4.422

Wang, C., & Zhao, H. (2020). The Impact of COVID-19 on Anxiety in Chinese University Students. Frontiers in Psychology, 11, 1168. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01168

Wei, M., Heppner, P. P., Mallen, M. J., Ku, T. Y., Liao, K. Y. H., & Wu, T. F. (2007). Acculturative Stress, Perfectionism, Years in the United States, and Depression Among Chinese International Students. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 54(4), 385–394. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0167.54.4.385

World Health Organization [WHO] (2020). WHO Director-General’s opening remarks at the media briefing on COVID-19. WHO, March 11, 2020. https://www.who.int/director-general/speeches/detail/who-director-general-s-opening-remarks-at-the-media-briefing-on-covid-19---11-march-2020

Xu, S. Q., Cooper, P., & Sin, K. (2018). The ‘Learning in Regular Classrooms’ initiative for inclusive education in China. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 22(1), 54–73. http://www.doi.org/10.1080/13603116.2017.1348547

Yan, K., & Berliner, D. C. (2011). Chinese international students in the United States: Demographic trends, motivations, acculturation features and adjustment challenges. Asia Pacific Education Review, 12(2), 173-184.

Ye, J. (2006). An examination of acculturative stress, interpersonal social support, and use of online ethnic social groups among Chinese international students. Howard Journal of Communications, 17(1), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1080/10646170500487764

Ye, L., & Edwards, V. (2017). A narrative inquiry into the identity formation of Chinese doctoral students in relation to study abroad. Race Ethnicity and Education, 20(6), 865-876. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2017.1294570

Yeh, C., & Inose, M. (2003). International students reported English fluency, social support, satisfaction, and social connectedness as predictors of acculturative stress. Counseling Psychology Quarterly, 16(1), 15–28. http://www.doi.org/10.1080/0951507031000114058

Downloads

Published

2022-08-09

How to Cite

Zhang, J., & Sustarsic, M. (2022). Coping and adjustment during COVID-19: Experiences of Chinese international doctoral students in the United States. Journal of Comparative & International Higher Education, 14(3b). https://doi.org/10.32674/jcihe.v14i3b.4085

Issue

Section

Empirical Article