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Student Stress: Effects and Solutions

  • Date Submitted: 10/28/2010 09:26 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 44.5 
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Student Stress: Effects and Solutions. ERIC Digest 85-1.
Stress is any situation that evokes negative thoughts and feelings in a person. The same situation is not evocative or stressful for all people, and all people do not experience the same negative thoughts and feelings when stressed.
One model that is useful in understanding stress among students is the person-environmental model. According to one variation of this model, stressful events can be appraised by an individual as "challenging" or "threatening" (Lazarus 1966). When students appraise their education as a challenge, stress can bring them a sense of competence and an increased capacity to learn. When education is seen as a threat, however, stress can elicit feelings of helplessness and a foreboding sense of loss.
A critical issue concerning stress among students is its effect on learning. The Yerkes-Dodson law (1908) postulates that individuals under low and high stress learn the least and that those under moderate stress learn the most. A field study and laboratory tests support the notion that excessive stress is harmful to students' performance.
Mechanisms that explain why students perform badly under stress include "hypervigilance" (excessive alertness to a stressful situation resulting in panic--for example, overstudying for an exam) and "premature closure" (quickly choosing a solution to end a stressful situation--for example, rushing through an exam).
WHAT IS STRESSFUL FOR UNDERGRADUATES?
Students react to college in a variety of ways. For some students, college is stressful because it is an abrupt change from high school. For others, separation from home is a source of stress. Although some stress is necessary for personal growth to occur, the amount of stress can overwhelm a student and affect the ability to cope.
Since World War II, changes in American higher education include growth in the size and complexity of institutions and increased diversity among students. A consequence...

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