The Causes And Solutions For Academic Stress Psychology Essay

The present research is aimed to explore the causes and solutions for academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore. Survey research design was used to examine the causes of academic stress. Non- probability purposive sampling technique was used to draw the sample of 55 M.Phil and Ph.D students (male students=20, female students=35) of University of the Punjab, Lahore. Indigenous questionnaire was used. SPSS (version 16.0) was used to determine the descriptive statistics of sample and independent sample t-test was applied to compare the academic stress level reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of University of the Punjab, Lahore. Results indicate that there is no difference in gender and M.Phil and Ph.D students on the level of academic stress.

Chapter I
Introduction

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The present research is aimed to explore the causes and solutions for academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore. Stress is one of the most crucial of all areas of human understanding (Hancock and Szalma, 2008). The inability to cope with demands placed on a person is referred as stress (Seaward, 2007). According to Blerkom (2009), attending college can be stressful for many students because they are forced to deal with so many new responsibilities, opportunities, challenges, and decisions. This study explored what students themselves said about the stress’s causes related to their university.

In academic, social, and employment settings, stress is often reported by individuals. The most recognized definition of stress was conceived by Hans Selye over 70 years ago, who stated that stress is the non- specific response of the body to any demand for change (Durstine, 2009).

Academic stress falls in the category of performance stresses in which people report being pressured to have high productivity and to meet time demands (McGraw, 2008). The students face different kinds of stressors in their life, such as the pressure of academics with a responsibility of success, uncertain future, and difficulties envisaged for integration into the system (Gilany and Amr, 2010). There are different kinds of academic stressors particular to students such as academic, financial, time, health related and self-imposed types of stressors. Academic stress among students have long been researched on, and researchers have identified stressors as too many assignments, competition with other students, failures, lack of pocket money (Fairbrother and Warn, 2003), poor relationships with other students or lecturers, family or problems at home. Institutional (university) level stressors are overcrowded lecture halls, (Ongori, 2007; Awino and Agolla, 2008), semester system, and insufficient resources to perform academic work. Other causes of academic stress can be summation of the number of exams, projects or papers due for students during a specified period of time (Weidner, Kohlmann, Dotzauer, & Burns, 1996). Academic stress is viewed as a chronic stress because of the nature of academic demands (Hulstein, 2009) and it varies from individual to Individual (Sulaiman and Akinsanya, 2011). In 2010, Shah, Hasan, Malik and Sreeramareddy conducted a research on undergraduates in a Pakistani medical school. The objectives of their study were to assess perceived stress, sources of stress and their severity and to assess the determinants of stressed cases. A cross-sectional survey was carried out among undergraduate medical students of CMH Lahore Medical College, Pakistan during January to March 2009. The survey was based on questionnaire. Perceived stress scale was used to assess the perceived stress. To assess sources of stress and their severity a questionnaire consisted of 33-item was used. Students reported a higher level of perceived stress and mostly were related to academic and psychosocial domains. This research supports that academic issues are also a major source of stress for students.

Many college students experience stress as they are concerned about their academic performance. Ross, Niebling and Hecker (1999) conducted a research to determine the major sources of stress among college students. They used Student Stress Survey (SSS). The scale consisted of 40 potentially stressful situations. The scale comprised of interpersonal, intrapersonal, academic, and environmental sources of stress. The items in the scale were classified as daily hassles and major life events. Participants were 100 students at a mid-sized, Midwestern university and varied in year in school, age, gender, and major. Overall, daily hassles were reported more often than major life events, with intrapersonal sources of stress being the most frequently reported source. The top five sources of stress were; change in sleeping habits, vacations/breaks, and change in eating habits, increased work load, and new responsibilities. The findings from this study may be further used to examine which sources of stress cause the highest levels of stress among college students, and may be helpful in creating stress management programs.

Students experience stress when they realize that their courses are much more demanding and fast paced than were their high school classes. Lifestyle changes are another common source of stress for college students. Balancing work, home, and school responsibilities puts additional stress on students (Blerkom, 2009). It is not uncommon to see teaching personnel in institutions of learning develop strange attitude and cold feet to work which leads to academic stress. Most often, classes are skipped and when they are not skipped, they are abrupt. Evaluations (both formative and summative) are handled carelessly. Teachers’ role as models, guide or counselors, are no longer the usual parlance. When all these happen, the teacher, the students, and infect, all educational resources suffer (Sulaiman and Akinsanya, 2011).

In 2010, Conner, Pope and Galloway did a study to explore what students themselves said about the causes of their school-related stress and then looked at ways to reduce it. They gathered data from 2006 to 2008, from 3,645 students, attending seven high performing high schools in the California Bay Area. Many students reported feeling stressed out, overworked, and sleep deprived. More than 70 percent of students reported that they often or always feel stressed by their school work, and 56 percent reported often or always worrying about such things as grades, tests, and college acceptance. The schools that participated in this study joined a research-based intervention program. This program guided school teams of multiple stakeholders as they design and implement site-based policies and practices that reduce student stress and promote greater student engagement, academic integrity, health, and well-being.

Academic stress can have both positive and negative consequences if it is not well managed (Agolla & Ongori, 2009). Fisher (1994) provides an overview of the effects of stress on performance, daily efficiency and health, and reports the results of research into stress in academic environments (for both staff and students). She explores the origins and nature of academic stress, personal vulnerabilities and coping mechanisms and proposes ways in which individuals can be helped. She emphasizes how working conditions and practices must be changed in order to reduce stress in academic life.

When students perceive excessive or negative stress they experience physical and psychological reactions to stressors (Misra & Castillo, 2004). Excessive amount of stress that is experienced by university students can have negative academic, emotional, or health outcomes (Marshall, Allison, Nykamp, and Lanke, 2008). Students’ psychological and physical well-being can be also affected by college classroom challenges and it is another negative impact of academic stress (Hall, Chipperfield, Perry, Ruthig, and Goetz, 2006). Academic stress can also lead to depression and physical illness (MacGeorge, Samter, & Gillihan, 2005).

It is important to the society that students should learn and acquire the necessary knowledge and skills that will in turn make them contribute positively to the development of the general economy of any nation (Agolla & Ongori, 2009).

Objectives

The purpose of the present research is to know the causes of academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of different departments of University of the Punjab, Lahore. Solutions for the reported causes are also find out in this research. It will make the University administrator to know how to monitor and control the stress factors that are responsible for the students stress.

Research Questions

What are the causes reported by students that lead to academic stress?

What are the solutions for the causes of academic stress?

Is there any difference in the level of academic stress of M.Phil and Ph.D students?

Is there any gender difference in the level of academic stress?

Chapter II
Methodology
Research design

Survey research design was used to examine the causes of academic stress reported by the M.Phil and Ph.D students of University of the Punjab, Lahore.

Sample and Sampling Strategy

Non- probability purposive sampling technique was used to draw the sample because the choice of the sample was contingent upon the availability and consent of the participants. Sample was drawn on the bases of following inclusion criteria.

Day scholars currently enrolled in the M.Phil program.

Day scholars currently enrolled in the Ph.D program.

Male and female students currently enrolled in M.Phil or Ph.D program.

Hostelites are not included due to rule out confounding. Sample consists of 55 M.Phil and Ph.D students (male students=20, female students=35) of University of the Punjab, Lahore. Sample was drawn from different departments of University of the Punjab, Lahore such as center for high energy physics, department of statistics, department of physics, department of economics, institute of chemistry, and department of botany because it is the purpose of the research to find out the academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of University of the Punjab, Lahore.

Demographic characteristics of the sample are given in Table 1.

Table 1

Demographic Characteristics of the Sample (N= 55)

Characteristics

Male students

(n=20)

Female students

(n=35)

Age in Years

21 – 24

3 (15.00)

25 (71.40)

25 – 28

10 (50.00)

10 (28.60)

29 – 32

7 (35.00)

0 (0.00)

Programme

M.Phil

12 (60.00)

25 (71.43)

Ph.D

8 (40.00)

10 (28.57)

Job Status

Yes

10 (50.00)

5 (14.30)

No

10 (50.00)

30 (85.70)

Marital status

Married

5 (25.00)

2 (5.70)

Unmarried

15 (75.00)

33 (94.30)

Instruments

Academic stress questionnaire was developed by the researchers in order to determine the causes of academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of University of Punjab, Lahore. First part of the questionnaire pertained the demographic information (name, gender, age, programme, job status and marital status) of the participants. In second part section I was consisted of 21 statements of causes of academic stress. Each statement has four possible options as always (1), often (2), sometimes (3), and never (4). The participant was asked to encircle any one of the four options which was appropriate for them. The II section was consisted of 13 statements of causes of academic stress and the participants were asked to encircle those statements which are mostly faced by them. The Cronbach’s Alpha reliability of scale I is .82 and of scale II is .504.

Procedure

To formally initiate the study an authority letter explaining nature of study was taken from the department of Applied Psychology, University of the Punjab, Lahore and then signed by the supervisor to collect the data. Consent form was prepared and finalized to obtain participant’s willingness to participate in the research. The data was collected from the different departments of Punjab University. Authority letter explaining nature and purpose of the study was provided to the chairpersons/heads/principals of the Departments of the University if the Punjab, Lahore. The heads of the departments allowed researchers to collect data and some of them referred the researchers to the coordinator for further help, who settled time with researchers for data collection. On the fix day the coordinator took the researchers in the class where the students were available. The subjects were approached and were briefed about the purpose of the research. After their consent and willingness to participate in the research, questionnaires were given to fill up. The questionnaires were completed in the researchers’ presence. Some departments arrange the classes for data collection and were very cooperative. But some department allows collecting the data after classes timing. Institute of Biochemistry did not allow to collect the data from their students.

Statistics

SPSS (version 16.0) was used to determine the descriptive statistics of sample and independent sample t-test was applied to compare the academic stress level reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of University of the Punjab, Lahore. Qualitative analysis was used to find out the solutions given by the students.

Chapter III
Results

The present research is aimed to explore the causes and solutions for academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore. Non- probability purposive sampling technique was used to draw the sample. Sample consists of 55 M.Phil and Ph.D students (male students=20, female students=35) of University of the Punjab, Lahore. Indigenous questionnaire was used and following results are obtained.

Table 2

Causes of academic stress reported by students (n=55)

Causes of Academic Stress

Often + Sometimes + Always (% )

Never (%)

Solutions

Teachers cover too much of the course content in their lecture which causes difficulty in assimilation of the knowledge.

83.60%

16.40%

20

Teachers’ teaching method is difficult to comprehend.

69.10%

30.90%

23

Too many assignments are given by teachers in a limited time.

67.30%

32.70%

20

Some teachers give assignments which are beyond the course content.

54.60%

45.40%

14

Some teachers give assignments which are beyond the course content.

78.20%

21.80%

32

The students do not have any choice for the number of credit hours per semester.

85.50%

14.50%

25

Difficulties in gathering data for research project.

41.80%

58.20%

13

Unplanned workshops with credit hours between 2-6 hours which enhance work loads for the students.

80.00%

20%

27

Student’s shyness towards asking questions.

65.45%

34.55%

14

Difficulty in completing group assignments due to the lack of pre plan distribution of workload among the group members.

80.00%

20%

19

Subjective biasness in allocation of grades.

61.82%

32.73%

20

Little training for power point presentation.

67.27%

32.73%

20

Insufficient facility for power point presentation with multimedia.

83.64%

16.36%

23

Class rooms are not well equipped to promote optimal learning.

72.73%

27.27%

23

Class room’s furniture is not conducive for lengthy classes.

83.64%

16.36%

22

Lack of alternative arrangements in case of sudden power breaks up.

100%

0%

19

Poor access to internet.

87.27%

12.73%

25

Lack of printing facility in computer room.

80.00%

20%

26

Lack of facility for photo copying in the library.

80.00%

20%

25

There is no latest reading material in the library.

87.00%

13%

24

Study is often affected by class mates’ chatting.

67.30%

32.70%

17

Table 3

Difference in the Level of Academic Stress Reported by M.Phil and Ph.D Students of Punjab University, Lahore.

M.Phil Students

(n=37)

Ph.D Students

(n=18)

95% CL

Variable

M

SD

M

SD

t(53)

p

LL

UL

Cohen’s d

Reported Academic Stress

58.05

7.16

61.56

11.44

-1.39

.17

-8.55

1.55

-0.31

Note. Cl = confidence interval; LL = lower limit; UL = upper limit.

Table 3 represents the results of difference in the level of academic stress reported by M.Phil (M=58.05, SD=7.16) and Ph.D (M=61.56, SD=11.44) students of Punjab University, Lahore. The results t(53)=.17,p<.05 indicates that there is no significant difference between them.

Table 4

Difference in gender on level of academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore.

Male Students

(n=20)

Female Students

(n=35)

95% CL

Variable

M

SD

M

SD

t(37.54)

P

LL

UL

Cohen’s d

Reported Academic Stress

59.15

9.38

59.23

8.70

.031

.91

-5.08

5.24

.23

Note. Cl = confidence interval; LL = lower limit; UL = upper limit.

Table 4 represents the represents the results of gender difference in the level of academic stress reported by male (M=59.15, SD=9.38) and Ph.D (M=59.23, SD=8.70) students of Punjab University, Lahore. The results t(37.54)=.91,p<.05 indicates that there is no significant difference between them.

Qualitative Analysis of Solutions given by Students
Item 1

Out of 55 students, 46 (i.e. 83.6%) reported item 1 as a cause of academic stress. 20 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Course should be according to the credit hours and cover properly.

Teachers have to focus on the topic so that main concepts of students can be clear and not to cover the course.

Teachers should cover the course that can be bearable for students in the limited semester time and easy to prepare.

Increase the number of working days.

Increase the number of working days so that course can be completed with in time, inside schedule classes.

Item 2

Out of 55 students, 38 (i.e. 69.1%) reported item 2 as a cause of academic stress. 23 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Teachers should present the material with diagrams.

Teachers should be explanatory.

There should b teacher training sessions.

Practical aspects of topic should be high lighted.

Modern and latest methodology must be used.

Item 3

Out of 55 students, 37 (i.e. 67.3%) reported item 3 as a cause of academic stress. 20 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Assignments should be limited.

Topics should be allocated early.

Focus should be on quantity not on quality.

Item 4

Out of 55 students, 30 (i.e. 54.6%) reported item 4 as a cause of academic stress. 14 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Assignments should be about course.

Assignments should be relevant to contents.

Main points should be explained.

Item 5

Out of 55 students, 43 (i.e. 78.2%) reported item 5 as a cause of academic stress. 32 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Choice should be given not only for credit hours but also for subjects.

Participants of students should made compulsory in policy making process.

Item 6

Out of 55 students, 467(i.e. 85.5%) reported item 6 as a cause of academic stress. 25 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Research should be given in time.

Research supervisor must be helpful and give proper guide line.

Government should provided official data websites.

Facilities for data collection should be provided.

Item 7

Out of 55 students, 23 (i.e. 41.8%) reported item 7 as a cause of academic stress. 13 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Workshops should held but for 1-2 hours maximum.

Workshops should be in week days not in off days.

Workshops should be planned according to the subject.

No such work shops should be planned.

Number and quantity of work shops should be pre planned.

Item 8

Out of 55 students, 44 (i.e. 80%) reported item 8 as a cause of academic stress. 27 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Teachers should be lenient.

There should be student teacher understanding.

Teachers should be more encouraging towards the students.

Teachers should be friendly.

Teachers’ behavior should be motivating.

Item 9

Out of 55 students, 36 (i.e. 65.45%) reported item 9 as a cause of academic stress. 14 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Marks should allotted for effort of group and there should a leader in the group.

The assignment should be given individually rather than in group.

The other solutions are group member should be cooperative and

There should be plan for group work.

Item 10

Out of 55 students, 44 (i.e. 80%) reported item 10 as a cause of academic stress. 19 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

There should be no favoritism by the teachers.

It should be abolished.

There should be external examiner &

Paper should be shown to the students after the marking.

Item 11

Out of 55 students, 34 (i.e. 61.82%) reported item 11 as a cause of academic stress. 20 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

There should be a proper computer classes as a course work.

And there should be seminars and workshop on it

Item 12

Out of 55 students, 37 (i.e. 67.27%) reported item 12 as a cause of academic stress. 20 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Department should provide facility

Multimedia should be fixed in the classes &

Administration should take step.

Item 13

Out of 55 students, 46 (i.e. 83.64%) reported item 13 as a cause of academic stress. 23 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

The infrastructure should be good

There is need of over head projector in every classroom.

The other solutions are noise due to fans must be reduced;

Mick for teachers also provided,

Proper air condition and heater in summer & winter respectively should be facilitate.

Item 14

Out of 55 students, 40 (i.e. 72.73%) reported item 14 as a cause of academic stress. 23 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

The chairs should be comfortable &

more chairs should be provided

Item 15

Out of 55 students, 46 (i.e. 83.64%) reported item 15 as a cause of academic stress. 22 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

UPS & generator should be must provide to each department.

Item 16

Out of 55 students, 55 (i.e. 100%) reported item 16 as a cause of academic stress. 19 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

IT center must be well established,

department lab should be upgrade,

WIFI signal should also be provided.

Item 17

Out of 55 students, 48 (i.e. 87.27%) reported item 17 as a cause of academic stress. 25 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

The printing facility should be provided in the computer lab.

Item 18

Out of 55 students, 44 (i.e. 80%) reported item 18 as a cause of academic stress. 26 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Photocopy machine should be buy by the department.

Item 19

Out of 55 students, 44 (i.e. 80%) reported item 19 as a cause of academic stress. 25 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Library should be upgrade.

Department should increased the budget to buy latest books and journals.

Good books must be under assessed by the students.

Item 20

Out of 55 students, 48 (i.e. 87.2%) reported item 20 as a cause of academic stress. 24 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Labs should be well equipped.

Funds should be increased.

Instruments, chemicals should be provided by increasing funds.

Sufficient number of computers should be provided in Ph.D lab.

Infrastructure should be improved.

Item 21

Out of 55 students, 37 (i.e. 67.3%) reported item 21 as a cause of academic stress. 17 students gave the solution to overcome this cause. The basic solutions are:

Chatting should not be happened.

Students should be well mannered and teachers should be little bit strict in this way.

There should be fine.

Any other cause and solution

Result is mostly late in the department. It should be in time.

For M.Phil students there is no time for job. The time table should be in such a way that students can do their jobs.

Communication problems associated with students about faculty so there should b regular arranged meetings between advisor and chairman.

Libraries must b provided with latest books and research related material.

Favoritism is a major problem. Unbiased teachers irrespective of beauty and gender of students must be hired.

Institute should be politics free.

Proper counseling and guidance for students.

Chapter IV
Discussion

The primary purpose of the present research was to explore the causes and solutions for academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore. This chapter discusses the major findings of the research with reference to the topic under study. Data was drawn from different departments of Punjab University, Lahore.

This research investigated the common causes of academic stress among the students and to what extent students experienced stress. The results indicated that there are a lot of causes of academic stress reported by students. The analysis was done by calculating the percentage of respondents who gave a high rating on the causes of academic stress. The result indicates that students do experience academic stress due to many reasons related to their departments as shown in Table 2. The finding is consistent to earlier studies (Ongori, 2007; Awino and Agolla, 2008; Ross, Niebling and Hecker 1999). Our finding reflects that, most of the students are experiencing stress in their daily academic activities. Amponsah (2010) conducted a study to investigate stress levels, experiences of stress and coping strategies of non-UK students studying at the University of Manchester, UK. The main purpose was to consider their perceived stress levels, their experiences of stress and their coping strategies and to link these to the continents from which they came, their gender and whether they were graduates or undergraduates. This research consisted of two phases. Survey method, perceived stress scale (PSS), the inventory of college students recent life experiences (ICSRLE) and the coping inventory for stressful situations (CISS) were used. Key findings indicated that, time pressure and work demands were the non UK students’ most stressful experiences. Gender was the most significant predictor of non-UK students’ stressful experiences, whilst female students expressed higher levels of distress than their male counterparts. The results indicate that there is no difference in gender on level of academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore. There is also no difference in the Level of Academic Stress Reported by M.Phil and Ph.D Students of Punjab University, Lahore. The ratio of male and female students and M.Phil and Ph.D students was not equal in sample so the results can not be generalized. Students also gave solutions to these academic stresses. The percentages of these solutions are in table 2. Students gave the solutions to academic stress related problems and also reported some others problems and their solutions. Many problems are related to the course content and to the facilities. 100% students reported academic stress due to the lack of alternative arrangements in case of sudden power breaks up. More than 80% students reported course content as a cause of academic stress. More over they reported that politics in academia, gender and subjective biasness and late result declaration also caused academic stress.

Limitations and Suggestions

The sample size was small because M.Phil and Ph.D students enrolled less than the other students. Some departments did not allow to collect data from their students. Ratio of male and female students is also not equivalent because female students are more than the male students in Punjab University, Lahore. Ratio of M.Phil and Ph.D students is also not equivalent because M.Phil students are more than the Ph.D students in Punjab University, Lahore. More over Ph.D students are not easily available in the departments.

The sample size should be large so that results can be generalized. The university should take action to sort out the problems of the students. So that their stress can be reduced and they can give more concentration to their studies.

Conclusion

The present research explored the causes and solutions for academic stress reported by M.Phil and Ph.D students of Punjab University, Lahore. Many causes are reported that leads to the academic stress. It has been concluded that there is no differences in M.Phil and Ph.D students in reporting academic stress fur

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