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Starting college life is associated with a number of positive changes in a young person’s life, such as learning to be independent, studying one’s future profession, and gaining new experiences regarding interpersonal communication skills. Students learn the basics of research work and discover the methods of self-discipline and organization. However, it is frequently the case that young people cannot cope with some or even all of these tasks due to the increased levels of stress and anxiety they experience. It is crucial to analyze the causes of such factors in order to alleviate the effect they make on students.
A particular group of students chosen to be analyzed in the current project is African American college youth. Since I also belong to this population group, I would like to investigate the peculiarities of the negative impact of stress on these young people. The paper involves the analysis of four peer-reviewed articles focused on the topic of stress and its impact on college students’ lives. Although each article has a different approach, the focus of the investigation, and methods, all of them are more or less related to the topic of the negative effect of stress on African American college students.
The paper is divided into three parts. In the first part, the introduction is made. The second part incorporates the analysis of chosen articles and comparing and contrasting their elements. The third part is concluding. It contains a summary of the main points of the paper as well as my personal thoughts in regards to the topic. The paper aims at presenting a relevant analysis of the research question using recent peer-reviewed sources and personal experience.
Analysis of Research Articles
For the current project, four scholarly sources were selected. Research by Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) is focused on the investigation of sex-role identity and academic stress among first-year students. The article by Çivitci (2015) deals with the relationship between social support and stress in college students. Research by Fischer, Nater, and Laferton (2016) is dedicated to the connection between negative stress beliefs of students and somatic symptoms. Finally, Peer, Hillman, and Van Hoet (2015) analyze the effects of stress on college students’ lives.
The articles that have the most similar subjects of investigation are the ones by Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) and Peer et al. (2015). In both of these studies, the main focus is on the perceived academic stress and the role it plays in students’ lives. Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) analyze academic stress in relation to sex-role identities and the self-esteem of the students. Peer et al. (2015) offer the systematic analysis of students’ self-perceptions associated with the impact of stress on their lives. Research studies by Çivitci (2015) and Fischer et al. (2016) have specific focuses. The first one concentrates on social support and its effect on stress levels. The second one deals with negative stress beliefs as predictors of students’ somatic symptoms under academic stress.
While all articles under analysis have a similar focus of the investigation, each of them has a different sample. In the study by Çivitci (2015), 479 students are enrolled. Fischer et al. (2016) and Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) employ over 200 participants (216 and 287 respectively). The article by Peer et al. (2015) has a rather small sample size: only 20 respondents. Therefore, it seems possible to speak about the validity of study results in each particular case. Three articles have a relevant sample size, whereas the source by Peer et al. (2015) lacks validity due to a very small number of participants. Another issue different in the sources is the countries where the studies were performed. Peer et al. (2015) analyze stress among students attending a public university in the US. Students enrolled in research by Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) attend a university in South Africa. Fischer et al. (2016) focus their study on students from a German university. Çivitci (2015) investigates stress perceptions of young people going to a university in Pamukkale, Turkey.
Since the project is focused on stress among African American students, it seems relevant to point out the ethnicity of the participants in each study. Two articles do not give any indication of their respondents’ race (Çivitci, 2015; Fischer et al., 2016). Meanwhile, two sources provide a detailed account of participants’ nationality. Thus, 33% of the study performed by Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) and 20% of those analyzed by Peer et al. (2015) are reported to belong to African American group. However, none of the research articles provides a specific account of the impact of stress on Black students. Thus, it seems rational to assume that results do not differ much depending on students’ race.
All articles concentrate on the role of stress in students’ lives, and it seems relevant to point out the major findings of each study. Having checked students’ sex-role identity (SRI) with the help of several different scales, Bernstein and Chemaly (2017) conclude that in the majority of cases, students with positive SRIs have lower stress levels and higher rates of self-esteem and social well-being. Çivitci’s (2015) investigation of the moderating role of social support indicates that the negative impact is a moderator whereas the positive impact is not. Therefore, the scholar concludes that with the growth of the negative impact, the positive influence of social support declines.
Findings of Fischer et al.’s (2016) research demonstrate the correlation between negative stress beliefs and somatic symptoms. Scholars conclude that there is a high likelihood of negative stress assumptions to predict somatic symptoms. Thus, the belief that stress is an adverse phenomenon is associated with somatic symptoms during the examination period that is considered as a highly stressful one (Fischer et al., 2016). The exploratory analysis conducted by Peer et al. (2015) indicates that stress can affect students’ lives in a variety of ways. For some participants, stressful situations constitute the motivation to “build character” (Peer et al., 2015, p. 95). Stress can also encourage students to demonstrate better academic performance and helps them to concentrate. For others, however, stress means a negative phenomenon that has an adverse impact on their performance as well as personal life.
All studies under investigation focus on stress as a crucial factor in students’ lives. To a more or less extent, all authors analyze the impact of stress on this social group of individuals. The majority of research papers focuses on university students while the focus of the current paper is on college learners. Therefore, the results might have been different if articles concentrated on college life. However, the general impression of the level of stress and its impact on students can be deduced from these articles’ findings.
Being a member of the social group whose stress levels have been investigated in the paper, I have some personal impressions and ideas to share on the point. College and university experience presents many dangers for young people who leave their homes and start a new life chapter. During this period, they are exposed to social and psychological changes that can serve either as motivators or stressors. It is crucial to turn each challenge into an opportunity and help young people manage their stress levels. With this aim, many research studies are conducted, some of which have been analyzed in this paper.
My personal observations of peers allow me to make the following remarks on stress and its impact on students. For the majority of these individuals, stress is a negative concept that slows down their ability to react to academic requirements adequately. In particular, stress levels increase during examinations or when it is time to pass some important projects. At the same time, some of my peers consider stress as a productive way of accumulating their strengths and reaching their academic objectives. From what I have observed, there is no difference in reaction to stress among African American students and representatives of other ethnic groups. In order to receive relevant data on the possible variations, further research is needed.
It seems that a study focused primarily on college students would help to understand the situation better. Also, a comparison between African American learners and members of other racial groups seems a relevant idea. A sample size of at least four or five hundred students is necessary to obtain the most accurate data. Such a study should employ a variety of research questions answers to which will present a relevant account of the situation.
Bernstein, C., & Chemaly, C. (2017). Sex role identity, academic stress and wellbeing of first-year university students. Gender & Behaviour, 15(1), 8045-8069.
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Çivitci, A. (2015). The moderating role of positive and negative affect on the relationship between perceived social support and stress in college students. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 15(3), 565-573.
Fischer, S., Nater, U. M., & Laferton, J. A. C. (2016). Negative stress beliefs predict somatic symptoms in students under academic stress. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 23(6), 746-751.
Peer, J. W., Hillman, S. B., & Van Hoet, E. (2015). The effects of stress on the lives of emerging adult college students: An exploratory analysis. Adultspan Journal, 14(2), 90-99.