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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis work investigated stress in an academic environment for undergraduate students from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives. For Study One, a Student Life-Style and Attitude Survey was administered to 375 undergarduate students. Factor Analyses extracted a total of 27 factors which were utilized in subsequent analyses. Multiple Regression Analyses resulted in four, highly significant, five-step regression equations for perceived level of stress, student satisfaction, work satisfaction, and personal satisfaction (p < .001). Discriminant Function Analyses produced significant group classification functions for gender, non-working versus working students, grade level, and the academic majors of science and engineering, business, and liberal arts (p < .001). Hypothesized higher factor scores for students reporting higher levels of perceived stress, were supported only for significant, positive, univariate relationships with factors of academic work-overload, and tension (p < .001), but rejected in all other instances. All hypothesized lower factor scores associated with higher levels of stress were rejected. Predicted higher factor scores for women were statistically supported for a number of symptoms, academic concerns, time-utilization, and the coping strategy of social support seeking; however, there were no significant gender differences in overall perceptions of stress level. Predicted lower factor scores for women on self-esteem, and self-efficacy factors were rejected, as was the predicted non-significant relationship between gender and Type "A-like" behavior. Men in this study attained significantly higher factor scores for both Type "A-like" behavior, and sensate tension reduction than did women. Study Two used content analyses of interviews with 27 undergraduates to affirm, modify, and expand upon the relationships identified in Study One. Results emphasized the general relationship between perceptions of stress and experiences of depression, low self-esteem, and somatization. Increased physical activity was reported as a major form of "coping" as were a number of other "non-direct" strategies. The identification of several additional indicators of stress and coping raised serious questions about the biases, and limitations of scales currently used to measure those dimensions. Taken together, results from the two studies suggested that undergraduate stress may be best understood, and investigated through academic "life-cycle," and "sub-cultural" approaches examining similarities and differences in health, stress, and coping using both quantitative and qualitative methodologies.