Stress and coping skills among university students: A preliminary research on ethnicity

Posted on November 15, 2016

Stress or pressure is a phenomenon experienced by every individual. Stress among students has been associated with their workload and environment. D'Zurilla and Sheedy (1991) reported that conditions where students lack stress or are overly stressed, can negatively affect their learning process. Apart from that, Case (1985) found that an educator who is fierce and uses physical punishment frequently can be a source of stress to students. Along the same line, Carlson (1999) viewed stress as a manifestation of psycho physiological reaction towards the demands of excessive workload. Students of a higher-learning institution are expected to perform with excellence to ensure their competency
once they complete their studies and along the way, they may encounter difficulties and problems. Some students, unlike others, would be able to cope and manage through, depending on the individual. The intensity of stress experienced by an individual may be affected by the individual's ability to effectively manage
the stressful situation or incident (D'Zurilla & Sheedy, 1991).

A research by Archer and Lammin (1985) found that factors including examination, competing for a good grade, time constraints, lecturer and environment of the lecture halls are the main contributors to academic-related stress. As for personal-related stress, the main contributing factors are intimate relationship, parental conflicts, financial problems and interpersonal conflicts with friends. Suriani and Suriani (2005), in their research involving 94 students of Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Indris, found stress due to academic, lecturer, personal and university factors are experienced by 70 to 91 percent of the students, while stress in relation to co-curriculum activities, friends, family and parents is experienced by less than 60 to 70 percent of the students.

Gender and ethnic differences were found with respect to specific adaptive coping strategies. Malaysia in general is known for its diversity in races including ethnicity specifically in the state of Sabah. There are three major races in Malaysia which are Malay, Chinese and Indian. The native community who live in Sabah and Sarawak are comprised of several ethnicities including Kadazan-Dusun, Bajau, Iranun
and Malay-Brunei in Sabah, while in Sarawak, ethnic groups include Iban, Melanau, Dayak and Sinos. Universiti Malaysia Sabah is one of the universities in Malaysia that have several ethnic groups especially from Sabah and
Sarawak. Each student has a different level of stress because they come from a different background.

Students who take up stress positively would regard their problems as challenges. On the other hand, students who take up stress negatively would regard their problems as additional burdens, rendering them to become demotivated in their studies.

Analysis on the level of stress based on ethnicity showed that students of the Chinese ethnicity had higher mean stress level as compared to the other ethnic groups. This is followed by the Malays, Sabah Natives, Sarawak Natives and Indians. High mean of stress level of Chinese ethnic group maybe because of their need to achieve. Most of the highest CGPA scores are students of the Chinese ethnicity.

As a conclusion from the above analysis, Chinese students are deemed to endure with higher stress level as compared to others due to their stronger commitment to their studies in order to obtain a higher
CGPA. This would include completing all assignments assigned by their lecturers, taking examinations and others.

Analysis on the coping skill according to the students' ethnicity found that students of Sarawak Natives were found to have higher coping skills as compared to others. This is followed by Sabah Natives, Malays, Chinese
and Indians. Significant differences were found between mean scores of coping skills of the Indians as compared to three other ethnic groups which were the Malays, Sabah Natives and Sarawak Natives. Survey
shows that students of Sarawak native are always in their minority group. This factor can affect their value as a group. Their relationship is close and more effective. A minority group consists of members who share one or more characteristics. Minority groups are often stigmatized and include racial/ethnic minorities. Established membership in the minority group enables the individual to disregard the opinions of outsiders as non-significant and only incorporate the positive appraisals of significant others within one's own group.

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Category(s):Academic Issues, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Stress Management

Source material from Research Gate

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