The Interrelationship amongst Depression, Loneliness, Self-Regulation, and Academic Achievement in Canadian and International Students

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Shahidi, Mehrdad
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Mount Saint Vincent University
Background: The number of international students in Western universities was estimated to be 7.2 million (CBIE, 2017, 2018) or 8 million in 2025 (Quacquarelli Symonds, 2020). In Canada, this number was 642,480 on December 31, 2019 indicating a 13% increase over 2018 (CBIE, 2020a). This unique historical trend in most Western higher educational systems has engaged researchers’ attention locally and globally. Although, few studies were recently focused on the different economical, educational, and psychological aspects of international students in Canada (Smith, 2016; Sondhi, 2014) or in the other Western countries (Migration Advisory Committee, 2019; Muller & Daller, 2019; Poyrazli, 2015), the literature review revealed that there are several disparities or gaps among those studies that have particularly focused on depression, loneliness, self-regulation, and academic achievement in international and local students in Western countries. Some of these gaps include the lack of replication, ignoring the direct and mediating roles of the above-noted factors in academic achievement, and the lack of comparative studies to explore differences/similarities in International and Canadian students. Also, previous studies were not focused on the interrelationships between and the predictive roles of depression, loneliness, and cognitive regulation in educational performance. Moreover, they had scant attention to the impact of university influencers, involvement, and social connectedness on academic function in relation to above-noted psychological factors. Purpose of Study: To reduce some of these disparities among the literature, the research questions revolved around the predictability of academic achievement through university influencers, academic involvement, social connectedness, depression, loneliness, and self- 2 regulation. In addition to exploring path models to explain academic achievement, the differences and similarities between International and Canadian samples were examined. Method: Based on statistical methods (Meyers, Gamst, & Guarino, 2006; Krejcie & Morgan, 1970), 427 Canadian and International students aged 19 to 37 years old attending MSVU participated in this study and completed five questionnaires/scales. These questionnaires include the Research (Demographic) Questionnaire, Kutcher Adolescent Depression Scale - 11, R-UCLA Loneliness Scale, Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ), and Academic Self-Report Questionnaire. Multiple regression, ANOVA, MANOVA, path analysis, and some other parametric and non-parametric statistical procedures were used to answer the research questions. Results: The research revealed several findings such as higher levels of loneliness, adaptive self-regulation, connectedness to faculty, and involvement in social activities in International samples. As well, lower levels of academic achievement in International samples and some other differences were found. Loneliness, depression, social connectedness, and university involvement could predict between 20% and 28% of variability of academic achievement in both groups of samples. Path analysis showed an appropriate model to explain depression as a significant mediating factor in academic achievement. Implication: Several recommendations and implications for mental health practitioners, educators, educational policy makers, and future researchers were discussed.
International students, Canadian students, academic achievement, depression, anxiety