Effects of Stress, Sleep Hygiene, and Exercise on Academic Engagement in Undergraduate Students
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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EmbargoRelease after 09/26/2019
AbstractAcademic engagement is important for the scholastic outcomes of college students, including degree completion. The current study examined the relations between stress and the intrinsic aspects of academic engagement (e.g. effort, attention, note-taking, attendance, asking for help, etc.), including the four factors of undergraduate engagement as outlined by Handelsman, Briggs, Sullivan, & Towler (2005): Factor 1 – “skills engagement,” Factor 2 – “emotional engagement,” Factor 3 – “participation/interaction engagement,” and Factor 4 – “performance engagement,” in addition to the mediating/moderating properties of the self-care practices of sleep hygiene and physical activity. Intrinsic versus extrinsic engagement was evaluated in this study as it is believed this approach affords more opportunities for subsequent interventions since they can be implemented in an individual or small group setting, and not be constrained by the challenges of making large institutional changes. The sample consisted of 203 undergraduate students from a large southeastern university. Results indicated that stress was negatively correlated with the factor of academic engagement most related to executive functioning (i.e. skills engagement). Of the independent variables evaluated, sleep hygiene showed the strongest correlations with academic engagement, most specifically for the skills engagement and performance engagement factors. Sleep hygiene also functioned as a mediator in the relationship between stress and the skills factor of engagement, resulting in a 47% reduction in the effect of stress. Exercise did not show correlations with any areas of engagement, but did show a small interaction effect on the relationship between stress and the academic engagement factor of participation/interaction. Stress was seen to have a positive impact on participation/interaction engagement. A moderating effect of physical activity was identified, leading to lower participation/interaction engagement when both stress and exercise were high. Exercise, ethnicity, age, class rank, and gender did not add predictive ability to any of the models for academic engagement/factors of engagement. These results highlight the potential benefits of improving sleep habits and promoting programs aimed at minimizing and addressing stress (e.g. meditation, mental health supports) in order to promote success and positive academic outcomes in undergraduate students. Directions for future research were also discussed.
Degree ProgramGraduate College