Investigating the Emotional Trajectory of Ph.D. Students via Qualitative Research: Bridging the Gap between Expectations and Reality

Shuyang Zhang, Rose Manisah Binti Sulong, Norlizah Binti Che Hassan


This study investigated the study motivation and psychological responses of pre-second-year Ph.D. students from a comprehensive university in Malaysia. To gain an understanding of the challenges faced by students, we conducted group interviews with 15 pre-second-year students: Malay, Chinese, and Malaysian Chinese. The interview transcripts were analyzed thematically using Atlas. The results revealed three significant challenges: The passion for pursuing a Ph.D. diminishes over time.; The stark contrast between self-expectations and the harshness of reality; The challenges of reality give birth to the hope for pursuing a Ph.D. The finding suggests some implications for educators and students regarding active learning.


Attribution theory; Double reduction policy motivation; Educational anxiety; Home education

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