How does social support relate to emotional availability for learning during COVID-19? A multi-group structural equation model of university students from the U.S. and Israel

Jason Jabbari*, Melissa Bessaha, Sana Malik, Dan Ferris, Sophie Brickman, Miriam Schiff, Ruth Pat-Horenczyk, Michal Grinstein-Weiss, Tyler Frank

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Given the social and emotional tolls of the COVID-19 pandemic on college and university students, many students have become academically disengaged during the pandemic. Although some colleges and universities have the capacity to promote social support for their students, research has yet to comprehensively demonstrate the relationship between social support and academic engagement. To fill this gap, we leverage survey results from four universities across the United States and Israel. Through multi-group structural equation modelling, we explore (a) how perceived social support relates to being emotionally unavailable for learning, (b) how this relationship is partially explained through coping and COVID-19 concerns, and (c) how these relationships can differ across countries. We find that students who perceived higher levels of social support had lower rates of being emotionally unavailable for learning. Part of this relationship occurred through greater rates of coping and, subsequently, fewer concerns about the pandemic. We also noticed significant differences in these relationships between countries. We conclude with a discussion of study implications for higher education policies and practices.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1037-1061
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Psychology of Education
Volume26
Issue number4
Early online date5 Apr 2023
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature B.V.

Keywords

  • Academic engagement
  • COVID-19
  • Higher education
  • Social support

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