of 27

Academic Stress | Social Support | Coping (Psychology)

All materials on our website are shared by users. If you have any questions about copyright issues, please report us to resolve them. We are always happy to assist you.
Academic Stress
  NASPA Journal, 2007, Vol. 44, no. 3405 Tara Smith is a graduate student at the University of Central Florida in Orlando,FL. Kimberly Renk is an associate professor at the University of Central Florida. Predictors of Academic-Related Stressin College Students: An Examinationof Coping, Social Support,Parenting, and Anxiety Tara SmithKimberly Renk  This study examined potential predictors of the academic-related stress experienced by college students. In particu-lar, the relationships among the coping strategies used bycollege students, social support, the parenting style used bycollege students’ mothers and fathers, college students’experience of anxiety, and academic-related stress wereexamined. Ninety-three undergraduate students enrolledin a psychology course at a large southeastern universitycompleted a series of self-report questionnaires that mea-sured the variables under study. Results suggested thatanxiety, problem-focused coping, and support from signif-icant others may serve as potentially important predictorsof the academic-related stress experienced by college stu-dents. Thus, identifying college students’ experience withthese variables and addressing these variables in practicalsettings may help college students alleviate their experi-ence of academic-related stress and have a less stressful,and possibly more fulfilling, college career.  NASPA Journal, 2007, Vol. 44, no. 3  Although attending college can be a rewarding experience, it also canbe a time of considerable anxiety and stress for students (Dyson &Renk, 2006). The combination of the many stressors of college life,such as planning for the future, struggling with exams and assign-ments, meeting the demands of challenging professors, deciding on amajor, and transitioning into financial and emotional independence,can be an overwhelming experience for many students. Further, inaddition to these stressors, students may wonder whether they will beable to meet their own expectations as well as those of their parentsand friends (Blimling & Miltenberger, 1981).Given all these factors, students’ experience of anxiety and stress dur-ing their college years may be important to their overall functioning aswell as to their academic performance (Silva, Dorso, Azhar, & Renk,in press). Thus, many variables may be related to the academic-relat-ed stress experienced by college students. Further, some of these vari-ables may contribute to decreased levels of academic-related stress. Asa result, this study will investigate the relationship among the acade-mic-related stress experienced by college students and several vari-ables that are likely relevant to their lives (i.e., coping strategiesemployed usually by college students during stressful times, collegestudents’ perceived social support, and the parenting style used by themothers and fathers of college students). Coping Strategies For many students, stress can play a major role in the transitional peri-od of attending college for the first time (Dyson & Renk, 2006).Utilizing effective coping strategies can help alleviate the negativeeffects of stress. For example, a recent study conducted by Park and Adler (2003) with first-year medical students concluded that the morestudents used coping strategies, the less deterioration they experi-enced in their physical health due to stress. Before selecting and mak-ing attempts to use coping strategies, however, individuals evaluate orappraise the stressor(s) with which they are faced (Lazarus &Folkman, 1984). Although appraisal can be defined as an individual’sevaluation of what is at stake and what coping options may be avail-able (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), coping can be described as the cog- 406  NASPA Journal, 2007, Vol. 44, no. 3 nitive and behavioral efforts an individual uses to manage specificdemands or stressors (e.g., Dressler, 1991). These stressors can beinternal and/or external, but they have been appraised as taxing or asexceeding the resources that are available to an individual. Further,coping strategies can be viewed as what an individual actually thinksand does in a particular stressful situation (Folkman & Lazarus,1980). In general, coping efforts may change constantly for any oneindividual (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). When selecting the copingstrategies that they will use, college students have many options avail-able to them.In a seminal work in the stress and coping literature, Lazarus andFolkman (1984) distinguished between two types of coping strategies:problem-focused and emotion-focused. Problem-focused copingstrategies tend to be employed when an individual has determinedthat a harmful, threatening, or challenging situation is amenable tochange. Thus, the individual who is experiencing stress perceives thestressful situation to be alterable and within his or her capabilities of control (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). As a result, these strategies cen-ter on managing or altering the situation causing stress (Lazarus &Folkman, 1984; Snyder, 1999). Examples of problem-focused copingmight be moving out of a stressful roommate situation or creating astudy plan for an upcoming exam. In previous studies, men have beenmore likely to endorse problem-focused coping strategies (Folkman &Lazarus, 1980), and such strategies have been associated withimprovements in functioning (e.g., reduced levels of depression;McNamara, 2000).In contrast, emotion-focused coping strategies focus on dealing withthe negative emotions that are a product of the stressful situation(Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Snyder, 1999). When the individual whois experiencing stress perceives the stressful situation to be outside of his or her control, emotion-focused coping strategies may beemployed. In other words, these types of strategies are used when anindividual has judged that nothing can be done to modify a harmful,threatening, or challenging environment (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984).These types of coping strategies may include avoidance, denial, wish-ful thinking, or seeking emotional support and may be used to main-tain hope, deny the implications of the stressor, or act as if the stres-sor did not matter (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Specific examples of  407  NASPA Journal, 2007, Vol. 44, no. 3 these types of strategies may include ignoring an obnoxious room-mate, regulating emotions while studying for an exam, or talking tofamily members during a particular crisis. In previous studies, womenhave been more likely to endorse emotion-focused coping strategies(Folkman & Lazarus, 1980), and such strategies have been associatedwith maladaptive functioning and strain (Terry, 1991).Roth and Cohen (1986) describe an additional dichotomy involvingtwo basic modes of coping strategies that orient an individual’s cogni-tive and emotional activity either toward or away from the stressful sit-uation. The first mode, approach strategies, allows an individual totake appropriate action or to notice and take advantage of changes thatmay make a stressful situation more controllable (Roth & Cohen,1986). Similar to the problem-focused coping strategies describedabove, this mode of coping is particularly helpful when there is a pos-sibility of affecting the nature of the stressful situation. Further, anapproach orientation can result in a fuller experience and expressionof emotional distress (Roth & Cohen, 1986). Although an approachorientation can be effective in coping with a controllable stressor, thereare potential costs if the stressor experienced proves to be uncontrol-lable. In such a case, approach strategies may lead to increased distressand worrying, which may prove to be time consuming and nonpro-ductive (Roth & Cohen, 1986).The second mode, avoidance, tends to reduce stress over short peri-ods of time as well as prevent anxiety from becoming crippling whenconfronting uncontrollable stressors. In addition, avoidance allows forgradual recognition of a threat. Increased hope and courage are possi-bilities when avoidance strategies are used in a partial, tentative, orminimal manner. Further, these positive consequences may work tofacilitate the use of the approach mode in the future (Roth et al.,1986). Although avoidant strategies may be helpful in providing timeto garner personal resources in the initial phases of coping (Holahan& Moos, 1987), they also may interfere with appropriate actions thatcould affect the nature of the stressful situation and may result in emo-tional numbness, unwanted intrusions of threatening material, anddisruptive avoidance behaviors (Roth & Cohen, 1986). Last, if usedover a lengthy period of time, psychological dysfunction may occur asa result of failing to confront a crisis directly (Holahan & Moos, 1987). An abundance of literature exists that has examined the relationship 408
Related Search
We Need Your Support
Thank you for visiting our website and your interest in our free products and services. We are nonprofit website to share and download documents. To the running of this website, we need your help to support us.

Thanks to everyone for your continued support.

No, Thanks