Level of stress among university students

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A Study On Investigating The Factors Affect The Level Of Stress Among University Students

Introduction

Abstract

Stress is a feeling which created when we react to particular events and prepare to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. The events that provoke stress are calledstressors. This research is done to study the factors affect the level of stress university students. Our respondents for the research will be University Malaya students from faculty of law, medicine, engineering, business and accountancy and science. They are well-known to have a high tendency to stress exposure. There are several factor that we identified would influence the level of stress among university students consists of coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support and personality. This study aims to find out the relationship between these 4 factors and reveal the correct manner in coping with stress for them as well.

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Background Overview

In Malaysia, the higher education system has been changed. For instance, the public universities are known as research universities via Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX) nowadays. The research universities in Malaysia ought to maintain their good grade to obtain further research funding, quality auditing and ranking, high quality of teaching and learning. Therefore, the university students will encounter high pressure with the change of education system. Thus, the exam-oriented system in Malaysia will lead to stress among students because the students claim that getting an “A” in the exam helps them to be a good leader and get a good job in the future. Other than being excel in the coursework, students participate in various sorts of activities organized by faculty or college to gain soft skill which terribly required in workplace nowadays. As a result, systematic time management is vital for a survivor of students in university life.

The majority of the university students depend on the loan from Pendidikan Tabung Pengajian Tinggi Negara (PTPTN) and scholarship to cover the expenses and fees in university. There are certain conditions need to be fulfilled. For instances, students must obtain at least 80% attendance and to be a first class honor. Students must preserve an outstanding grade to accomplish the terms in scholarship or discharge from liabilities to repay PTPTN loan in the future. Adequate finance sources are required to survive and earn a degree in university or else they need to work as part timer to cover up the expenses.

A good living condition is essential for the university students to handle their stress. The administration of the university encourages the students to live in student hostel for the first year because it is a chance to make friends and to get use into university life.

Besides, student welfare officers, student counseling services and the student unions are there to help those who are facing stress in their university life. Orientation week and buddy system are also being introduced to cope with the level of stress among students. New students can be easily adapted to their life in university with the advices provided through the orientation program and buddy system. Last but not least, seminar and stress management campaign are organized to assist students in handling stress with recommendation and tips.

Problem Statement

The past researches have been conducted to understand the factors affect the level stress among students. However there is no any research that tested and compared of the selected important factors towards choosing the dominant factor that influenced the level of stress. Besides, the study before has been conducted only at Europe and Indian country so most of the finding couldn’t be adapt in Malaysia. Therefore, this research has been applied successfully what we have learnt in the student learning environment of the education field with evidence from Malaysia. The outcome of this research showed a comprehensively integrated framework for us to understand the dynamic relationships among dimensions of student coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support and personality to understand the factors that influence the level of stress among students in University of Malaya. Hence, the problem statement for this research can be generated as:

“What is the dominant factor affect the level of stress among University Malaya students?”

Research Problem

This research has been done to examine and understand how environment generates stress to university students. Besides that, we also inquisitive the most important factor that would influent the level of stress among university students. Through this study, we can discover the factor impact the most towards the level of stress among the university students in either positively or negatively.

As a result, the research problem is formulated as:

The Factors Affect The Level Of Stress Among University Malaya Students

Research Objectives

Here are objectives which to be achieved through this study as mentioned:

1. To find out whether the relationships among four dimensions which is coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support and personality (four independent variables) would significantly affect the level of stress among university students (dependent variable).

2. To discover the stress difference among demographic factors.

3. To figure out the most dominant stress factor among University Malaya students.

Research Questions

The research problem is too wide to be studied directly. Therefore, research questions are developed to achieve the research purpose for this study as stated below:

1. Is there any significant relationship among four factors of coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support social support and personality in affecting the level of stress among university students?

2. Is there any significant different between demographic (races and gender) with factors affect the level of stress among University Malaya students?

3. What is the most dominant factor among University Malaya students?

Literature Review

Introduction

Researchers (Vermunt and Steensman, 2005; Topper, 2007; Ussery, 2007; Malach-Pines and Keinan, 2007) have defined stress as the opinion of incongruity between environmental requirements (stressors) and individual competency to accomplish these requirements. Researcher (Campbell, 2006) defines stress as the unpleasant reaction from people who have to extreme stress. Stress takes place when an individual is handled with a scenario that they perceive as devastating and cannot deal with.

Stress is known as a reaction shown by a variety of external events (Selye, 1976) and can be treated as a constructive or destructive experience. Fontana (1989) describes stress as “an order directed to the adaptive abilities physically and mentally. If these capabilities can manage the request and take pleasure in the incentive concerned, then stress will become a positive force of motivation and vice versa. In different terms, feedbacks to stressor are likely to be different by person and the similar environment can result in various outcomes. While some people may prosper, others may wither under the strain. Cox & Brockley (1984) commented that stress is an insight occurrence which results from a contrast between the demand set and capability of someone to accomplish the mission fruitfully. Unstable circumstances in this means will direct into stress experience and eventually into stress reaction.

Greenberg and Valletutti (1980) said that “whether it is constructive or depressing, stress will trigger a response physically. It has an effect on the cardiovascular, digestive, and musculoskeletal structures of the body. Stress is the key source of headaches, backaches, indigestion, nausea, heart attacks, hypertension, ulcers, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, diabetes, allergies and arthritis. Stress also was relate with psychosomatic illnesses, enuresis, anorexia nervosa, and alcoholism”

Studies on the variation of stress stages between genders are typically performed openly or in a roundabout way. Consequently, the intention of this investigation is to validate the outcome of preceding studies that stated female scholars undergo additional stress than male undergraduates such as the one done by Gadzella and Baloglu (2001) which discover that female students encounter more stress in the different stages of life. While Muhammad Shah (1993) discovered a major distinction between the stress suffered by different gender students and the studies by Mohd Jafri (1991) demonstrates that female students go through more stress when encountering troubles when judge against the male students. From the studies that have been carried out, it is anticipated that a plan can be shaped and implemented to the undergraduates particularly the female students.

Coursework And Self-Expectation

Stress is likely to obstruct with educational performance and influenced nearly millions of students per year (Barker 1987). Whitman (1985) proposes that stress is difficult to determine due its unpredictable consequence on individuals. Goplerud reported that nearly 3.9 stressful during the last six months of graduate education according to students. Stecker (2004) realized that graduate students encountered indication of hopelessness, stress, and matter use. There are many theories to explain the consequences of stress particularly on academic performance (Spence and Spence 1966, Carver and Sheier 1990, Travis and Wade 1993).

Stress in academic institutions can influence student positively and negatively in terms of effects if not well administered (Smith, 2002; Tweed et al., 2004; Stevenson and Harper, 2006). Academic institutions have different job surroundings compared to nonacademic. It is predicted to have differences in signs, factors, and outcomes of stress to students (Elfering et al., 2005; Chang and Lu, 2007). It is significant to the society that students should be trained and gain the essential knowledge and competencies to prepare them to contribute positively to the growth of the universal economy of any country. However, the complicated academic atmosphere occasionally create great health problems to the students’ life (Danna and Griffin, 1999; Dyck, 2001; Grawitch et al., 2007; Ongori, 2008) that tend to go against the affirmative gains that one would anticipate after graduating from University. These scholars claim needs to pay close attention to formulate the effective and efficient stress management in university. Therefore, university ought to maintain fit balanced academic surroundings beneficial for enhanced learning which is suit according the students’ individual requirements. Personality of students poses different level of expectations to students. Moreover, students’ backgrounds impact on how one distinguishes the situation around him/her. There are various kinds of expectations, ambitions, and standards for students which they pursue to achieve at the university. It is possible to be recognize only if their expectations, ambitions, and standards are integrated with what have been offered in the university (Goodman,1993).

People are stressed and leads to nervous and hinder with individual’s performance based on the ‘drive theory’ (Spence and Spence 1966). Carver and Sheier (1990) have faith that people who are confidently deal with stress by implementing continually task-focused whereas those who are lack of confidence are usually anxious by mind-set of sorrow and use self distraction practice, such as off-task view.

Upon additional analysis, we figure out the personality character of a distinctive graduate student as an internal stipulation that contributed for additional stress. Graduate students who are always highly dedicated, persistent or firm, display perfectionist trend, set high standards of quality, reveal enthusiasm for their ground, and are achievement-oriented. These individuality can assist graduate students in completing their course work, but challenge to put the equivalent attempt and brilliance into all aspects of their lives can result in irritation, over-commitment, and be exhausted. (Evan H. Offstein et al.,2004). However, stress are not dependable in the purpose circumstance of environmental or personality basis but the view or the perception of the person (Baltas and Baltas, 2000).

Hewitt and Flett (1991) stated perfectionism as a multidimensional occurrence that encompasses self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism (cf. Frost et al., 1990). Self-oriented perfectionism describes the trend of a person to target and achieve splendid work. Other-oriented perfectionism is about the habits of someone who always anticipate that the others ought to perform ideally in their tasks. Socially prescribed perfectionism is about the practice of someone to always think that the public anticipate flawlessness from him or her.

At least one investigation on self-regulation schemes of obsessive academy scholars in a societal environment implies that perfectionism (deliberated by the Hewitt Perfectionism Scale) is linked with targeting an elevated goal for a discussion and estimating an individual’s presentation regularly in the communication (Alden et al., 1994). Likewise, perfectionism calculated by the Hewitt Perfectionism Scale in communally disturbed individual is associated to targeting advanced benchmarks before a discussion (Bieling & Alden, 1997). These results show that perfectionists aim for harder objectives for themselves. Besides, obsessive institution students ponder more about blunders they did, suffer more stress when finishing an challenging job, and work with lesser efficiency on a laboratory-based assignment than non-perfectionists (Frost & Marten, 1990 and Frost et al., 1997).

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Flett and Hewitt recommended that purist manners could cause, propagate, or develop stress, which apparently would then be associated with detested results. Chang and Rand, (2000) and Hewitt et al., (1996) discovered that at self-oriented perfectionists suffered additional despair at elevated stages of stress. On the contrary, Chang and Rand (2000) revealed that unconstructive consequences of socially-prescribed perfectionism took place under high levels of stress. In the recent investigation, we conducted an experiment on the supposition that unreasonable benchmarks and presentation anticipation (in the absence of self-disparagement) may be adaptive only under least stress conditions; if stress is towering, what may appeared as an adaptive feature of perfectionism may surface as a maladaptive feature. Stress was also anticipated to worsen the depressing impact of maladaptive perfectionism.

Hewitt and Flett (1991) disputed that the thoughts of insignificance and harsh self-criticism regularly linked with not assessing up to one’s perfect expectations are tend to pose pessimistic emotional circumstances. Related outcomes are anticipated to happen when an individual not succeed to achieve the others’ expectations. However, Hewitt and Flett (1991) added explained that the inadequate of controllability always discovered among students who feel pressured to be ideal for others might worsen the anxiety of socially prescribed perfectionism on modification and cause to suicidal behaviors. This is comparable to the perception shown in the journalism on educated defenselessness and desperation (e.g., Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989).

It is hectic to get first-class honour and obtain a degree. (Hirsch & Ellis, 1996). However, it is not only the main factor of stress for student. Other possiblefactors affect stress contains extreme assignments, unclear assignments’ guideline, and uncomfortable lecture hall (Kohn & Frazer, 1986). Furthermore, academic standards, dealings with faculty course mates and time urgency are recognized as a source of stress.(Sgan-Cohen & Lowental, 1988). Students strive hard to meet evaluation deadlines and generate stress along the way. (Misra et al. 2000), and there are report indicated that students feel overwhelmed by their workload (Reisberg 2000). Other than too many assignments, competition among the course mates can pose stress to students according to researchers who have done an investigation on academic stress (Fairbrother and Warn, 2003). Institutional (university). Level of stress among university students can be determined by overloaded lecture halls, (Ongori, 2007; Awino and Agolla, 2008), semester scheme, and insufficient resources to execute educational effort. Erkutlu and Chafra (2006) for example opines about students become disordered, confused and unable to come across when these events occur. It further lead in stress associated with medical problems.

Academic years are unquestionably pressured (Melendez & Guzman, 1983). Going through graduate institutions indicates the starting of numerous hectic life changes for majority students. Goplerud (2001) mentioned some of these adjustments are episodic and match to intellectual position conversion, like there is orientation program in the first few months for a graduate university course, preparation for inclusive or competent examinations, enrolling into an industrial training site, and starting the first job.

Graduate education is related with various interpersonal stressors like the stress to seem well-educated in front of friends and lecturers, contest among friends, and competition for research journals and academic presentations. These interpersonal resists pose to isolation, anxiety, character confusion, and unfriendliness (Katz & Hartnett, 1976; Mallinckrodt, Leong, & Fretz, 1985; Stecker, 2004). Therefore, Students will turn out to be less efficient students and further resulting their individual and professional life. after the stressors being encountered. For instance, one’s traits are described with a persistent sense of time pressure and too much aggressive drive. It is assumed to face higher stress since it is expected to be speedy in verbal communication and actions (Baltas and Baltas, 2000).

A subject linked with workload related stress is the fear of failure. Schafer (1996) illustrates fear of failure as: ‘‘…perfectly natural and can help motivate you to prepare and perform well. Sometimes, however, fear of failure becomes so extreme that it creates unnecessary emotional and physical distress.”

Time management issues are also an important source of student stress (Nonis et al. 1998). They suggest however that it is not the management of time itself that causes stress, but the individual’s perception of control over time that is the source of student stress. This view is supported by Macan et al. (1990), who found that individuals who felt themselves to be in control of their time experienced less tension. Students in the study rated ‘too little time’ as one of the top three sources of stress as many students leave too much to accomplish in too short a space of time. A side effect of a perceived lack of time is that students may forgo sleep, which may 738 High Educ (2008) 56:735-746 reduce their ability to cope with an increase in stress (Hardy 2003). How students experience stress will also be affected by the individual’s attitude towards their studies. Students that are classed as high achievers are more likely to be predisposed towards experiencing stress (Hughes 2005).

The pressure to perform well in the examination or test and time allocated makes academic environment very stressful (Erkutlu and Chafra) Therefore, for many students the most significant source of stress is examinations (Abouserie 1994). The stress associated with exams can cause a range of symptoms in some students including nausea, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and stomach pains (Mechanic 1978). He also found that the majority of students experienced a reduction in stress once they had started their first examination. This implies that it is the prospect of taking an exam that causes stress rather than the exam itself. A contention that is supported by Gadzella et al. (1998) who concluded from a study of undergraduate psychology students that it is the anxiety associated with tests, rather than the test itself, which creates physiological and emotional reactions to stress.

Graduate students experience many sources of internal conflict. Internal conflicts may result from competing demands, the compromise of personal principles and standards, unrealized expectations, a sense of responsibility to “significant others”, classmates, and employers, other concerns and commitments, incongruence of graduate experiences with past experiences or knowledge, a conflict between student’s passion and (perceived) irrelevant degree requirements, and guilt (which is both a conflict and a result of internal conflict). Often, students experience a combination of these conflicts. Kane illustrated this type of conflict interaction as he contemplated his desire to do well at his graduate studies while maintaining his commitments and responsibilities to his family in Africa. He expressed his turmoil by saying, “Is my thinking entirely school or is it entirely at home? Or am I in-between?” (Kane).

This research is also needed to show and support the fact that there is a relationship between stress and the students’ academic performance. The question is whether academic achievement cause or contribute to stress because parent in general measure their success or failure in child rearing based on the academic achievement. The society has also unconsciously been responsible for embedding in the minds on individuals that achieving success in exams is a must. Fariza (2005) who conducted a research on the stress among teenagers found that this age group have to deal with the academic world. Therefore there exists demand and hope for themselves, their parents, teachers and the society to see them succeed. This is parallel to the research by Mates and Alisson (1992) which finds that among the academic factor that contribute to the stress in teenagers is their achievement in academics.

A student’s life is subjected to different kinds of stressors, such as the pressure of academics with an obligation of success, uncertain future and difficulties envisaged for integration into the system (Fish & Nies, 1996; Chew-Graham, Rogers & Yassin, 2003). Overwhelming burden of information leaves a minimal opportunity to relax and recreate and sometimes leads to serious sleep deprivation (Lee & Graham, 2001; Firth- Cozens, 2001). It constitutes various stressors which may cause impaired judgment, reduced concentration, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression (Gisele, 2002).

One factor is the great stress students experience when faced with the academic expectations set by their college professors (Kadison, R.D. & DiGeronimo, T.F., 2004) For many students, especially those in the traditional age range, college-level academic expectations are experienced as dramatically greater than the expectations set by their teachers in high school. Indeed, the ubiquity of remedial courses offered at our colleges suggests that high school teachers today are not adequately preparing their students for college work, with core academic skills needed for success in college often poorly developed when the student reaches college IBHE Faculty Advisory Council, 2006). Consequently, many students who were accustomed to getting perfect grades in high school are surprised and upset to discover that their work is not highly regarded by their professors, and struggle to develop the core skills needed to improve their work (Kadison, R.D. & DiGeronimo, T.F., 2004; IBHE Faculty Advisory Council, 2006).

Financial Status

Financial stress is an important source of distress in people’s lives because many fundamental activities of daily living and opportunities for success are closely tied to current levels of personal financial resources (Peirce, Frone, Russell & Cooper, 1996). Financial stress also effect family issues (Mills, Grasmick, Morgan & Wenk, 1992), personal health (Drentea & Lavrakas, 2000) and increase illness-related absenteeism (Hendrix, Steel & Schultz, 1987; Hendrix, Spencer & Gibson, 1994 ; Ivancevich, Matteson & Preston, 1982; Jacobson, et al., 1996)

Financial stress has been referred to by researchers as economic stress, economic hardship, economic strain and economic pressure. Economic strain is an evaluation of current financial status such as perceived financial adequacy, financial concerns and worries, adjustment to changes in one’s financial situation and one’s is projected financial situation (Voydanoff, 1984).

Financial stress can induce physical and psychological responses. Financial stress affects individuals’ health through physical impairment (Drentea & Lavrakas, 2000), drinking problems (Moos, Fenn, & Billings 1989; Peirce et al., 1996) depression and reduced psychological well-being (Jackson,Iezzi & Lafreniere, 1997; Myvesta, 2000; Mill et.,1992; Pearlin, Menaghan, Lieberman & Mullan, 1981; Ullah 1990)

Drenta and Lavrakas (2000) found that individuals who reported higher level of financial stress showed higher levels of physical impairment and illness than those with lower levels of financial stress. Credit counselling reported that their health was negatively affected by financial stress (Bagwell, 2000)

Responses to financial stress also include psychological factors. Jackson et al., (1997) examined the extent of emotional distress of individual in chronic pain compared to healthy samples. Mills et al., (1992) studied the effects of gender, family satisfaction and economic strain on psychological well being of people. They found that the effects of economic strain are the same for males and females regardless of the status. Ullah (1990) studied association between income financial strain and psychological well-being and also she mediates the effects of income on mental health.

Students’ financial stress also leads to psychological responses such as organizational commitment and satisfaction in the learning environment. Financial stress was included as stress and determinants related to financial stress and responses were identified. Stress was hypothesized to influence psychological and physical stress responses, health and student commitment. The determinants in the model are individual variables, such as gender, education, age and income. These variable are often included in stress, absenteeism and financial stress models (Brooke, 1986; Heyloe & Wilheam 1998; Porter 1990 ; Steers & Rhodes, 1978,1884)

Stress related to personal finances is perceived to be one of the most influential sources of psychological stress because basic life activities are associated with personal financial resources and their management (Peirce et al., 1996) Subjective perception of personal finances has been measure of financial stress (Fox & Chaney, 1998; Miles et al., 1992; Ullah 1990)

As a result of changes in the funding of higher education, as mentioned previously, a significant stressor for students is living with limited financial resources. Although the stress of financial uncertainty may be temporary, it can still have a negative impact on individuals (Schafer 1996). A study at a London university found a significant relationship between financial problems and mental health (Roberts et al. 1999). In addition, having limitations on financial resources can increase the impact of strains normally associated with studying (Foster 1995). To combat their lack of money, increasing numbers of students are taking part-time paid ] employment during their studies. According to The Student Living Report (2004), 42% of students have a job to support themselves at university, working an average of 14 hours per week. This need to work has added to what is, for some, already a stressful situation, such that 59% of students reported that they feel more stressed now, in comparison to their previous educational experiences. The Report (2004) further suggests that students expect to finish university with debts, on average, of £9,341.

The financial context may become even more acute for some in the future with the introduction in September 2006 in England of tuition fees to be paid by students. The majority of higher education institutions have already indicated that they intend to charge the maximum annual fee of £3,000 per year. While this does mean that students do not have to pay any fees in advance, they will incur a larger financial cost after completing their studies. In an attempt to reduce this burden, many institutions will be offering bursaries, or other financial assistance, to a proportion of students. It is not yet known what effect this fundamental change will have on the levels of stress associated with financial concerns.

Relationship And Family

Relationship and family will affect the level of stress among the university student, such as the long-distance romantic with the couple, the problem of family, the transition from home to university.

Actually, the relationship of couple can cause the level of stress higher. Boyfriend or girlfriend can provide support to help students deal with the stresses of university, but it’s also an added responsibility. Like studying or playing on a sports team, relationships require time and attention. Students may experience conflict because cannot spend as much time with partner, especially during exam period. When such conflict arises, relationships may become confusing and frustrating, adding to the stress in university life. A side effect of a perceived lack of time is that students may forgo sleep, which may reduce their ability to cope with an increase in stress (Hardy 2003). Married college students and their families have been of interest to researchers for some time (Beutell & Greenhous, 1982, 1983; DYK, 18987; Hirsch, 1979; Hooper, 1979; Huston-Hoberg & Strange, 1986; Rice, 1979; smallwood, 1980; Suitor, 1987; Van Meter & Agronow, 1982).

Whether it is a friendship, dating, separation, marriage, divorce, or re-marriage, a relationship can be a leading cause of stress for students. We all want love, and that is potentially available in relationships, but getting from A to B can be very stressful. Some choice to online relationships that is easier to handle. These research studies show that a strong relationship exists between stress and cognitive abilities (Glaser & Singer, 1972). Others withdraw and become outsider. Either way, the demands on time, finances, and emotions can cause ongoing stress. Probably the most wrenching cause of stress is the death of a loved one or close friend. Even the death of a pet can be stressful among the university students. However, many of the studies which have examined stress and coping resources in the college student’s population have failed to recognize the potential differences between single and married college students in the selection of subjects, instrument development, and or data analysis (Archer & Lamnin, 985; Beard, Elmore, &Lange, 1982; Costantini Davis, Braun, &Iervolino, 1974; Whitman, Spendlove, & Clark, 1984; Zausmer, Faris, & ZAusmer, 1983; Zitzow, 1984).

In fact, partners in inter-group relationships can experience strong dissatisfaction and social pressure among the couples relationship. This same point was re-iterated in scholarly studies of interracial marriages as late as the 1980s (Porterfield, 1982). So, should we expect interracial relationships to be distressing at the turn of the twenty-first century? Scholars writing early in the twentieth century suggeste

A Study On Investigating The Factors Affect The Level Of Stress Among University Students

Introduction

Abstract

Stress is a feeling which created when we react to particular events and prepare to meet a tough situation with focus, strength, stamina, and heightened alertness. The events that provoke stress are calledstressors. This research is done to study the factors affect the level of stress university students. Our respondents for the research will be University Malaya students from faculty of law, medicine, engineering, business and accountancy and science. They are well-known to have a high tendency to stress exposure. There are several factor that we identified would influence the level of stress among university students consists of coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support and personality. This study aims to find out the relationship between these 4 factors and reveal the correct manner in coping with stress for them as well.

Background Overview

In Malaysia, the higher education system has been changed. For instance, the public universities are known as research universities via Accelerated Programme for Excellence (APEX) nowadays. The research universities in Malaysia ought to maintain their good grade to obtain further research funding, quality auditing and ranking, high quality of teaching and learning. Therefore, the university students will encounter high pressure with the change of education system. Thus, the exam-oriented system in Malaysia will lead to stress among students because the students claim that getting an “A” in the exam helps them to be a good leader and get a good job in the future. Other than being excel in the coursework, students participate in various sorts of activities organized by faculty or college to gain soft skill which terribly required in workplace nowadays. As a result, systematic time management is vital for a survivor of students in university life.

The majority of the university students depend on the loan from Pendidikan Tabung Pengajian Tinggi Negara (PTPTN) and scholarship to cover the expenses and fees in university. There are certain conditions need to be fulfilled. For instances, students must obtain at least 80% attendance and to be a first class honor. Students must preserve an outstanding grade to accomplish the terms in scholarship or discharge from liabilities to repay PTPTN loan in the future. Adequate finance sources are required to survive and earn a degree in university or else they need to work as part timer to cover up the expenses.

A good living condition is essential for the university students to handle their stress. The administration of the university encourages the students to live in student hostel for the first year because it is a chance to make friends and to get use into university life.

Besides, student welfare officers, student counseling services and the student unions are there to help those who are facing stress in their university life. Orientation week and buddy system are also being introduced to cope with the level of stress among students. New students can be easily adapted to their life in university with the advices provided through the orientation program and buddy system. Last but not least, seminar and stress management campaign are organized to assist students in handling stress with recommendation and tips.

Problem Statement

The past researches have been conducted to understand the factors affect the level stress among students. However there is no any research that tested and compared of the selected important factors towards choosing the dominant factor that influenced the level of stress. Besides, the study before has been conducted only at Europe and Indian country so most of the finding couldn’t be adapt in Malaysia. Therefore, this research has been applied successfully what we have learnt in the student learning environment of the education field with evidence from Malaysia. The outcome of this research showed a comprehensively integrated framework for us to understand the dynamic relationships among dimensions of student coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support and personality to understand the factors that influence the level of stress among students in University of Malaya. Hence, the problem statement for this research can be generated as:

“What is the dominant factor affect the level of stress among University Malaya students?”

Research Problem

This research has been done to examine and understand how environment generates stress to university students. Besides that, we also inquisitive the most important factor that would influent the level of stress among university students. Through this study, we can discover the factor impact the most towards the level of stress among the university students in either positively or negatively.

As a result, the research problem is formulated as:

The Factors Affect The Level Of Stress Among University Malaya Students

Research Objectives

Here are objectives which to be achieved through this study as mentioned:

1. To find out whether the relationships among four dimensions which is coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support and personality (four independent variables) would significantly affect the level of stress among university students (dependent variable).

2. To discover the stress difference among demographic factors.

3. To figure out the most dominant stress factor among University Malaya students.

Research Questions

The research problem is too wide to be studied directly. Therefore, research questions are developed to achieve the research purpose for this study as stated below:

1. Is there any significant relationship among four factors of coursework and self-expectation, financial status, relationship and family, social support social support and personality in affecting the level of stress among university students?

2. Is there any significant different between demographic (races and gender) with factors affect the level of stress among University Malaya students?

3. What is the most dominant factor among University Malaya students?

Literature Review

Introduction

Researchers (Vermunt and Steensman, 2005; Topper, 2007; Ussery, 2007; Malach-Pines and Keinan, 2007) have defined stress as the opinion of incongruity between environmental requirements (stressors) and individual competency to accomplish these requirements. Researcher (Campbell, 2006) defines stress as the unpleasant reaction from people who have to extreme stress. Stress takes place when an individual is handled with a scenario that they perceive as devastating and cannot deal with.

Stress is known as a reaction shown by a variety of external events (Selye, 1976) and can be treated as a constructive or destructive experience. Fontana (1989) describes stress as “an order directed to the adaptive abilities physically and mentally. If these capabilities can manage the request and take pleasure in the incentive concerned, then stress will become a positive force of motivation and vice versa. In different terms, feedbacks to stressor are likely to be different by person and the similar environment can result in various outcomes. While some people may prosper, others may wither under the strain. Cox & Brockley (1984) commented that stress is an insight occurrence which results from a contrast between the demand set and capability of someone to accomplish the mission fruitfully. Unstable circumstances in this means will direct into stress experience and eventually into stress reaction.

Greenberg and Valletutti (1980) said that “whether it is constructive or depressing, stress will trigger a response physically. It has an effect on the cardiovascular, digestive, and musculoskeletal structures of the body. Stress is the key source of headaches, backaches, indigestion, nausea, heart attacks, hypertension, ulcers, colitis, constipation, diarrhea, diabetes, allergies and arthritis. Stress also was relate with psychosomatic illnesses, enuresis, anorexia nervosa, and alcoholism”

Studies on the variation of stress stages between genders are typically performed openly or in a roundabout way. Consequently, the intention of this investigation is to validate the outcome of preceding studies that stated female scholars undergo additional stress than male undergraduates such as the one done by Gadzella and Baloglu (2001) which discover that female students encounter more stress in the different stages of life. While Muhammad Shah (1993) discovered a major distinction between the stress suffered by different gender students and the studies by Mohd Jafri (1991) demonstrates that female students go through more stress when encountering troubles when judge against the male students. From the studies that have been carried out, it is anticipated that a plan can be shaped and implemented to the undergraduates particularly the female students.

Coursework And Self-Expectation

Stress is likely to obstruct with educational performance and influenced nearly millions of students per year (Barker 1987). Whitman (1985) proposes that stress is difficult to determine due its unpredictable consequence on individuals. Goplerud reported that nearly 3.9 stressful during the last six months of graduate education according to students. Stecker (2004) realized that graduate students encountered indication of hopelessness, stress, and matter use. There are many theories to explain the consequences of stress particularly on academic performance (Spence and Spence 1966, Carver and Sheier 1990, Travis and Wade 1993).

Stress in academic institutions can influence student positively and negatively in terms of effects if not well administered (Smith, 2002; Tweed et al., 2004; Stevenson and Harper, 2006). Academic institutions have different job surroundings compared to nonacademic. It is predicted to have differences in signs, factors, and outcomes of stress to students (Elfering et al., 2005; Chang and Lu, 2007). It is significant to the society that students should be trained and gain the essential knowledge and competencies to prepare them to contribute positively to the growth of the universal economy of any country. However, the complicated academic atmosphere occasionally create great health problems to the students’ life (Danna and Griffin, 1999; Dyck, 2001; Grawitch et al., 2007; Ongori, 2008) that tend to go against the affirmative gains that one would anticipate after graduating from University. These scholars claim needs to pay close attention to formulate the effective and efficient stress management in university. Therefore, university ought to maintain fit balanced academic surroundings beneficial for enhanced learning which is suit according the students’ individual requirements. Personality of students poses different level of expectations to students. Moreover, students’ backgrounds impact on how one distinguishes the situation around him/her. There are various kinds of expectations, ambitions, and standards for students which they pursue to achieve at the university. It is possible to be recognize only if their expectations, ambitions, and standards are integrated with what have been offered in the university (Goodman,1993).

People are stressed and leads to nervous and hinder with individual’s performance based on the ‘drive theory’ (Spence and Spence 1966). Carver and Sheier (1990) have faith that people who are confidently deal with stress by implementing continually task-focused whereas those who are lack of confidence are usually anxious by mind-set of sorrow and use self distraction practice, such as off-task view.

Upon additional analysis, we figure out the personality character of a distinctive graduate student as an internal stipulation that contributed for additional stress. Graduate students who are always highly dedicated, persistent or firm, display perfectionist trend, set high standards of quality, reveal enthusiasm for their ground, and are achievement-oriented. These individuality can assist graduate students in completing their course work, but challenge to put the equivalent attempt and brilliance into all aspects of their lives can result in irritation, over-commitment, and be exhausted. (Evan H. Offstein et al.,2004). However, stress are not dependable in the purpose circumstance of environmental or personality basis but the view or the perception of the person (Baltas and Baltas, 2000).

Hewitt and Flett (1991) stated perfectionism as a multidimensional occurrence that encompasses self-oriented, other-oriented, and socially prescribed perfectionism (cf. Frost et al., 1990). Self-oriented perfectionism describes the trend of a person to target and achieve splendid work. Other-oriented perfectionism is about the habits of someone who always anticipate that the others ought to perform ideally in their tasks. Socially prescribed perfectionism is about the practice of someone to always think that the public anticipate flawlessness from him or her.

At least one investigation on self-regulation schemes of obsessive academy scholars in a societal environment implies that perfectionism (deliberated by the Hewitt Perfectionism Scale) is linked with targeting an elevated goal for a discussion and estimating an individual’s presentation regularly in the communication (Alden et al., 1994). Likewise, perfectionism calculated by the Hewitt Perfectionism Scale in communally disturbed individual is associated to targeting advanced benchmarks before a discussion (Bieling & Alden, 1997). These results show that perfectionists aim for harder objectives for themselves. Besides, obsessive institution students ponder more about blunders they did, suffer more stress when finishing an challenging job, and work with lesser efficiency on a laboratory-based assignment than non-perfectionists (Frost & Marten, 1990 and Frost et al., 1997).

Flett and Hewitt recommended that purist manners could cause, propagate, or develop stress, which apparently would then be associated with detested results. Chang and Rand, (2000) and Hewitt et al., (1996) discovered that at self-oriented perfectionists suffered additional despair at elevated stages of stress. On the contrary, Chang and Rand (2000) revealed that unconstructive consequences of socially-prescribed perfectionism took place under high levels of stress. In the recent investigation, we conducted an experiment on the supposition that unreasonable benchmarks and presentation anticipation (in the absence of self-disparagement) may be adaptive only under least stress conditions; if stress is towering, what may appeared as an adaptive feature of perfectionism may surface as a maladaptive feature. Stress was also anticipated to worsen the depressing impact of maladaptive perfectionism.

Hewitt and Flett (1991) disputed that the thoughts of insignificance and harsh self-criticism regularly linked with not assessing up to one’s perfect expectations are tend to pose pessimistic emotional circumstances. Related outcomes are anticipated to happen when an individual not succeed to achieve the others’ expectations. However, Hewitt and Flett (1991) added explained that the inadequate of controllability always discovered among students who feel pressured to be ideal for others might worsen the anxiety of socially prescribed perfectionism on modification and cause to suicidal behaviors. This is comparable to the perception shown in the journalism on educated defenselessness and desperation (e.g., Abramson, Metalsky, & Alloy, 1989).

It is hectic to get first-class honour and obtain a degree. (Hirsch & Ellis, 1996). However, it is not only the main factor of stress for student. Other possiblefactors affect stress contains extreme assignments, unclear assignments’ guideline, and uncomfortable lecture hall (Kohn & Frazer, 1986). Furthermore, academic standards, dealings with faculty course mates and time urgency are recognized as a source of stress.(Sgan-Cohen & Lowental, 1988). Students strive hard to meet evaluation deadlines and generate stress along the way. (Misra et al. 2000), and there are report indicated that students feel overwhelmed by their workload (Reisberg 2000). Other than too many assignments, competition among the course mates can pose stress to students according to researchers who have done an investigation on academic stress (Fairbrother and Warn, 2003). Institutional (university). Level of stress among university students can be determined by overloaded lecture halls, (Ongori, 2007; Awino and Agolla, 2008), semester scheme, and insufficient resources to execute educational effort. Erkutlu and Chafra (2006) for example opines about students become disordered, confused and unable to come across when these events occur. It further lead in stress associated with medical problems.

Academic years are unquestionably pressured (Melendez & Guzman, 1983). Going through graduate institutions indicates the starting of numerous hectic life changes for majority students. Goplerud (2001) mentioned some of these adjustments are episodic and match to intellectual position conversion, like there is orientation program in the first few months for a graduate university course, preparation for inclusive or competent examinations, enrolling into an industrial training site, and starting the first job.

Graduate education is related with various interpersonal stressors like the stress to seem well-educated in front of friends and lecturers, contest among friends, and competition for research journals and academic presentations. These interpersonal resists pose to isolation, anxiety, character confusion, and unfriendliness (Katz & Hartnett, 1976; Mallinckrodt, Leong, & Fretz, 1985; Stecker, 2004). Therefore, Students will turn out to be less efficient students and further resulting their individual and professional life. after the stressors being encountered. For instance, one’s traits are described with a persistent sense of time pressure and too much aggressive drive. It is assumed to face higher stress since it is expected to be speedy in verbal communication and actions (Baltas and Baltas, 2000).

A subject linked with workload related stress is the fear of failure. Schafer (1996) illustrates fear of failure as: ‘‘…perfectly natural and can help motivate you to prepare and perform well. Sometimes, however, fear of failure becomes so extreme that it creates unnecessary emotional and physical distress.”

Time management issues are also an important source of student stress (Nonis et al. 1998). They suggest however that it is not the management of time itself that causes stress, but the individual’s perception of control over time that is the source of student stress. This view is supported by Macan et al. (1990), who found that individuals who felt themselves to be in control of their time experienced less tension. Students in the study rated ‘too little time’ as one of the top three sources of stress as many students leave too much to accomplish in too short a space of time. A side effect of a perceived lack of time is that students may forgo sleep, which may 738 High Educ (2008) 56:735-746 reduce their ability to cope with an increase in stress (Hardy 2003). How students experience stress will also be affected by the individual’s attitude towards their studies. Students that are classed as high achievers are more likely to be predisposed towards experiencing stress (Hughes 2005).

The pressure to perform well in the examination or test and time allocated makes academic environment very stressful (Erkutlu and Chafra) Therefore, for many students the most significant source of stress is examinations (Abouserie 1994). The stress associated with exams can cause a range of symptoms in some students including nausea, changes in eating and sleeping patterns, and stomach pains (Mechanic 1978). He also found that the majority of students experienced a reduction in stress once they had started their first examination. This implies that it is the prospect of taking an exam that causes stress rather than the exam itself. A contention that is supported by Gadzella et al. (1998) who concluded from a study of undergraduate psychology students that it is the anxiety associated with tests, rather than the test itself, which creates physiological and emotional reactions to stress.

Graduate students experience many sources of internal conflict. Internal conflicts may result from competing demands, the compromise of personal principles and standards, unrealized expectations, a sense of responsibility to “significant others”, classmates, and employers, other concerns and commitments, incongruence of graduate experiences with past experiences or knowledge, a conflict between student’s passion and (perceived) irrelevant degree requirements, and guilt (which is both a conflict and a result of internal conflict). Often, students experience a combination of these conflicts. Kane illustrated this type of conflict interaction as he contemplated his desire to do well at his graduate studies while maintaining his commitments and responsibilities to his family in Africa. He expressed his turmoil by saying, “Is my thinking entirely school or is it entirely at home? Or am I in-between?” (Kane).

This research is also needed to show and support the fact that there is a relationship between stress and the students’ academic performance. The question is whether academic achievement cause or contribute to stress because parent in general measure their success or failure in child rearing based on the academic achievement. The society has also unconsciously been responsible for embedding in the minds on individuals that achieving success in exams is a must. Fariza (2005) who conducted a research on the stress among teenagers found that this age group have to deal with the academic world. Therefore there exists demand and hope for themselves, their parents, teachers and the society to see them succeed. This is parallel to the research by Mates and Alisson (1992) which finds that among the academic factor that contribute to the stress in teenagers is their achievement in academics.

A student’s life is subjected to different kinds of stressors, such as the pressure of academics with an obligation of success, uncertain future and difficulties envisaged for integration into the system (Fish & Nies, 1996; Chew-Graham, Rogers & Yassin, 2003). Overwhelming burden of information leaves a minimal opportunity to relax and recreate and sometimes leads to serious sleep deprivation (Lee & Graham, 2001; Firth- Cozens, 2001). It constitutes various stressors which may cause impaired judgment, reduced concentration, loss of self-esteem, increased anxiety and depression (Gisele, 2002).

One factor is the great stress students experience when faced with the academic expectations set by their college professors (Kadison, R.D. & DiGeronimo, T.F., 2004) For many students, especially those in the traditional age range, college-level academic expectations are experienced as dramatically greater than the expectations set by their teachers in high school. Indeed, the ubiquity of remedial courses offered at our colleges suggests that high school teachers today are not adequately preparing their students for college work, with core academic skills needed for success in college often poorly developed when the student reaches college IBHE Faculty Advisory Council, 2006). Consequently, many students who were accustomed to getting perfect grades in high school are surprised and upset to discover that their work is not highly regarded by their professors, and struggle to develop the core skills needed to improve their work (Kadison, R.D. & DiGeronimo, T.F., 2004; IBHE Faculty Advisory Council, 2006).

Financial Status

Financial stress is an important source of distress in people’s lives because many fundamental activities of daily living and opportunities for success are closely tied to current levels of personal financial resources (Peirce, Frone, Russell & Cooper, 1996). Financial stress also effect family issues (Mills, Grasmick, Morgan & Wenk, 1992), personal health (Drentea & Lavrakas, 2000) and increase illness-related absenteeism (Hendrix, Steel & Schultz, 1987; Hendrix, Spencer & Gibson, 1994 ; Ivancevich, Matteson & Preston, 1982; Jacobson, et al., 1996)

Financial stress has been referred to by researchers as economic stress, economic hardship, economic strain and economic pressure. Economic strain is an evaluation of current financial status such as perceived financial adequacy, financial concerns and worries, adjustment to changes in one’s financial situation and one’s is projected financial situation (Voydanoff, 1984).

Financial stress can induce physical and psychological responses. Financial stress affects individuals’ health through physical impairment (Drentea & Lavrakas, 2000), drinking problems (Moos, Fenn, & Billings 1989; Peirce et al., 1996) depression and reduced psychological well-being (Jackson,Iezzi & Lafreniere, 1997; Myvesta, 2000; Mill et.,1992; Pearlin, Menaghan, Lieberman & Mullan, 1981; Ullah 1990)

Drenta and Lavrakas (2000) found that individuals who reported higher level of financial stress showed higher levels of physical impairment and illness than those with lower levels of financial stress. Credit counselling reported that their health was negatively affected by financial stress (Bagwell, 2000)

Responses to financial stress also include psychological factors. Jackson et al., (1997) examined the extent of emotional distress of individual in chronic pain compared to healthy samples. Mills et al., (1992) studied the effects of gender, family satisfaction and economic strain on psychological well being of people. They found that the effects of economic strain are the same for males and females regardless of the status. Ullah (1990) studied association between income financial strain and psychological well-being and also she mediates the effects of income on mental health.

Students’ financial stress also leads to psychological responses such as organizational commitment and satisfaction in the learning environment. Financial stress was included as stress and determinants related to financial stress and responses were identified. Stress was hypothesized to influence psychological and physical stress responses, health and student commitment. The determinants in the model are individual variables, such as gender, education, age and income. These variable are often included in stress, absenteeism and financial stress models (Brooke, 1986; Heyloe & Wilheam 1998; Porter 1990 ; Steers & Rhodes, 1978,1884)

Stress related to personal finances is perceived to be one of the most influential sources of psychological stress because basic life activities are associated with personal financial resources and their management (Peirce et al., 1996) Subjective perception of personal finances has been measure of financial stress (Fox & Chaney, 1998; Miles et al., 1992; Ullah 1990)

As a result of changes in the funding of higher education, as mentioned previously, a significant stressor for students is living with limited financial resources. Although the stress of financial uncertainty may be temporary, it can still have a negative impact on individuals (Schafer 1996). A study at a London university found a significant relationship between financial problems and mental health (Roberts et al. 1999). In addition, having limitations on financial resources can increase the impact of strains normally associated with studying (Foster 1995). To combat their lack of money, increasing numbers of students are taking part-time paid ] employment during their studies. According to The Student Living Report (2004), 42% of students have a job to support themselves at university, working an average of 14 hours per week. This need to work has added to what is, for some, already a stressful situation, such that 59% of students reported that they feel more stressed now, in comparison to their previous educational experiences. The Report (2004) further suggests that students expect to finish university with debts, on average, of £9,341.

The financial context may become even more acute for some in the future with the introduction in September 2006 in England of tuition fees to be paid by students. The majority of higher education institutions have already indicated that they intend to charge the maximum annual fee of £3,000 per year. While this does mean that students do not have to pay any fees in advance, they will incur a larger financial cost after completing their studies. In an attempt to reduce this burden, many institutions will be offering bursaries, or other financial assistance, to a proportion of students. It is not yet known what effect this fundamental change will have on the levels of stress associated with financial concerns.

Relationship And Family

Relationship and family will affect the level of stress among the university student, such as the long-distance romantic with the couple, the problem of family, the transition from home to university.

Actually, the relationship of couple can cause the level of stress higher. Boyfriend or girlfriend can provide support to help students deal with the stresses of university, but it’s also an added responsibility. Like studying or playing on a sports team, relationships require time and attention. Students may experience conflict because cannot spend as much time with partner, especially during exam period. When such conflict arises, relationships may become confusing and frustrating, adding to the stress in university life. A side effect of a perceived lack of time is that students may forgo sleep, which may reduce their ability to cope with an increase in stress (Hardy 2003). Married college students and their families have been of interest to researchers for some time (Beutell & Greenhous, 1982, 1983; DYK, 18987; Hirsch, 1979; Hooper, 1979; Huston-Hoberg & Strange, 1986; Rice, 1979; smallwood, 1980; Suitor, 1987; Van Meter & Agronow, 1982).

Whether it is a friendship, dating, separation, marriage, divorce, or re-marriage, a relationship can be a leading cause of stress for students. We all want love, and that is potentially available in relationships, but getting from A to B can be very stressful. Some choice to online relationships that is easier to handle. These research studies show that a strong relationship exists between stress and cognitive abilities (Glaser & Singer, 1972). Others withdraw and become outsider. Either way, the demands on time, finances, and emotions can cause ongoing stress. Probably the most wrenching cause of stress is the death of a loved one or close friend. Even the death of a pet can be stressful among the university students. However, many of the studies which have examined stress and coping resources in the college student’s population have failed to recognize the potential differences between single and married college students in the selection of subjects, instrument development, and or data analysis (Archer & Lamnin, 985; Beard, Elmore, &Lange, 1982; Costantini Davis, Braun, &Iervolino, 1974; Whitman, Spendlove, & Clark, 1984; Zausmer, Faris, & ZAusmer, 1983; Zitzow, 1984).

In fact, partners in inter-group relationships can experience strong dissatisfaction and social pressure among the couples relationship. This same point was re-iterated in scholarly studies of interracial marriages as late as the 1980s (Porterfield, 1982). So, should we expect interracial relationships to be distressing at the turn of the twenty-first century? Scholars writing early in the twentieth century suggeste

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