Theses Doctoral

Race and the effects of Perceived Stress on Sustained Attention, Motivation and Affect during COVID-19: Students in the Context of a Pandemic

Frank, Elyse

This study examined the differences in racial groups across perceived stress and perceived disruption during the COVID-19 pandemic among undergraduate and graduate students at a Northeastern Predominantly White Institution (PWI). The sample consisted of 268 students who completed a Qualtrics survey measuring perceived stress, perceived disruptions during COVID-19, symptoms of anxiety and depression, motivation approach and sustained attention in addition to demographics.

Results indicated a significant difference in disruption as reported by Non-Hispanic White students with more sources of disruption than non-White and Hispanic students. When rating the extent of disruption, non-White and Hispanic students reported significantly greater levels of disruption. While there were no significant differences between racial groups in reports of perceived stress, all racial groups reported moderate levels of perceived stress, consistent with other researchers in the pandemic. Increased levels of perceived stress were correlated to higher levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety, greater difficulty sustaining attention and a stronger likelihood of using both prevention and promotion approaches.

Those with lower economic circumstances reported higher levels of anxiety, greater difficulties sustaining attention, and were more likely to be motivated to not fail. Graduate students demonstrated significantly higher symptoms of anxiety than undergraduates and international students were more likely to be motivated to not fail than domestic students. These results demonstrate a need for university wide support to address student stressors.

Geographic Areas


  • thumnail for Frank_columbia_0054D_17904.pdf Frank_columbia_0054D_17904.pdf application/pdf 586 KB Download File

More About This Work

Academic Units
School Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Peverly, Stephen T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 9, 2023