Award Abstract #2028034

RAPID: Emerging Adults’ Daily Well-Being, Social Experiences, and Academic Persistence in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic

See grant description on NSF site

Program Manager:

Peter Vishton

Active Dates:

Awarded Amount:



Adrienne Nishina

Alysha R Hall

Diana J Meter

Michael A Medina

Awardee Organization:

University of California-Davis

Funder Divisions:

Social Behavioral and Economic Sciences (SBE)


Rapid societal shifts associated with the COVID-19 pandemic have necessitated that education move online. Such shifts also increase students’ exposure to online discrimination, which can in turn negatively impact students’ academic performance and development. Prior research suggests that discrimination can push students away from pursuing STEM careers at a moment when a diverse, interdisciplinary STEM workforce is critical to confronting complex scientific challenges. In traditional in-person educational settings, positive interactions with diverse classmates and instructors can facilitate the maintenance of cognitive performance, educational attainment, and STEM participation despite negative experiences. Whether these positive interactions transfer to an online context, and whether they similarly buffer the effects of discrimination, is less understood. This study captures important daily variations in students’ well-being and academic outcomes that can inform future university practices regarding education and student wellness during crises. The findings may be of particular interest to educational institutions that have been forced to quickly shift to online instruction. As the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates, there is a need for novel ideas and excellent leadership in STEM fields. This study will identify factors that may protect and promote STEM career outcomes.This project capitalizes on an existing ethnically diverse sample of college STEM majors who previously (pre-pandemic) reported on their daily in-class experiences, well-being, and academic outcomes. The present study collects additional data, using nearly identical methods, across two 7-day cycles. The project aims to: (1) Describe the frequency of daily discrimination experienced by college-aged ethnically diverse STEM majors; (2) Assess the extent to which rates of discrimination differ from their pre-pandemic levels; (3) Examine whether daily discrimination is correlated with STEM students’ day-to-day well-being, academic efficacy, and outcome expectations for their future STEM careers; and (4) Explore digital peer and university social supports as moderators of associations between daily discrimination and outcomes in a context of limited in-person interaction. Exploratory open-ended questions will identify participants’ educational experiences related to COVID-19.This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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