Nowadays, stress can be found in every corner in the world. Stress can provide extra energy to people for example, a marathon runner needs stress in a marathon competition so that he or she can win in the competition and this is called eustress. Eustress are stress that is healthful or giving one the feeling of fulfilment. Unfortunately, if we did not manage stress effectively, it can be harmful. Stress could make a person feel under pressure to archive something. In Malaysia, stress not only happen in the school, college or university, it also happens in the workplace. “70 per cent of Malaysian workers experienced an increase in stress-related illnesses” (Theborneopostcom, 2013). As a Sunway College student, I realized that a lot of people around me are facing stress. This does not only mean students that I see, it includes lecturers too. For the students, normally stress happens when they have a lot of homework to do and revise and also there might be conflict between friends. And for lecturers, they will be stressed when they need to deal with the students. As we can see, stress happens in every corner around the world.
Past research done by Haider (2017) to determine the levels of stress and academic performance among medical students. The result indicates that females in the study demonstrated more stress as compared to male students. The past research also indicates that there is greater anxiety, changes in physiological states and increased emotional response to stress in female students as compared to male students.
This study is very important as nowadays people cannot manage their stress well. Stress can help to increase cardiovascular disease and anxiety disorders and this stress is called distress. Hence, the effective ways to manage stress should be taught to everyone in the world. Furthermore, stress can be differentiating into various type such as acute stress, episodic acute stress, and chronic stress. The level of stress can also affect one’s academic performance. For example, a person in a very stressful situation cannot perform well as compared to those people who can manage their stress well.
Nowadays, stress has become an important issue in the research studies topic in the academic circle as well as in the society because many people cannot manage their stress well and at last some of them committed suicide. Hence, the main purpose of this research was to examine the gender differences in stressors and their academic performance. Specifically, this study aimed to answer the following research questions: (1) What are the significant differences in the reactions to stressors between male and female? (2) How stress affects the academic performance between male and female?
2. Literature Review
In this chapter, I will review the literature on the gender differences on stress and the academic performance regard as relevant to my research objective.
2.2 Definition of Stress
Different previous researchers develop different definitions of stress. According to Lazarus and Cohen (1977), stress means “any event in which internal and/ or environmental demands exceed the adaptive resources of an individual or social system”. Oxford Dictionaries (2014) defined stress as “A state of mental or emotional strain or tension resulting from adverse or demanding circumstances.”
In psychology, Hans Selye created the first definition of stress in 1936. “He stated that stress is the non-specific response of the body to any demand for change.” (Wikiversityorg, 2017).
2.3 Related Studies on Gender Differences on Stress and the Academic Performance
Test anxiety and examination stress often occur in the higher education places such as university. A study had been carried out by Eman, Dogar, Khalid, & Haider (2012) aimed “To assess and compare the level of test anxiety and examination stress among males and females university students.” The method used to conduct the experiment was Purposive convenient sampling. 50 male and 50 female Master students which are between 20-28 years old were selected and participated in the experiment. To analysed the data, the results were entered into SPSS software program version 12. “The findings of this research suggest that gender differences are significant where female Masters’ students showed a significantly higher level of test anxiety than their male counterparts.” The result shows that female have a higher level of test anxiety as compared to male. This research is highly related to my research paper because as stated in the introduction, the main purpose of my research was to examine the gender differences in stressors and their academic performance.
A study has found out that “women experienced more psychological distress than men” (Matud, Bethencourt, & Ibáñz, 2015). This research aimed to examine psychological distress in two different genders by analyzing the relevance of stress, coping styles, social support and the use of time in women’s and men’s psychological distress. 1337 men and 1251 women from the Spanish general population between 18-65 years old are recruited. They are group with similar age and educational levels but different socio-demographic characteristic. Questionnaires and interview are carried out and the analyses were performed using the PASW Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 18.0. Matud et al., (2015) concluded that although the male and female respondents being of similar educational levels and similar age, female experienced more psychological distress than male. The main findings of this study reveal that the style to cope with female’s stress was found to be less healthy and they dedicated more time to do house core and childcare. They also suggested that promote a tasks distribution between male and female so that all individuals have the opportunity to undertake leisure activities and physical exercises behavior. This is a good solution to deal with the stress and this can be added in my recommendations.
Madhyastha, Latha, & Kamath (2014) stated that “Majority of the third year students experienced stress.” This main objective of this study is “to estimate the prevalence of stress, examine gender differences in stress experience and coping in a sample of 94 third year medical students.” Purposive sampling method was used to collect the data. The sample includes 48 males and 46 females third year medical student. The participants are required to answer the survey questions and data analysis was carried out with SPSS 16 version. It showed that “female students experienced more academic performance related stress than male students.” “They experienced more difficulties related to coursework, examination, peer competition and fear of failure.” The authors also admitted their limitation that the sample only belonged to one specific college. Hence, I can take consideration into my research paper by distributing the questionnaire not only to one specific college.
A study has found out that the relation between the stress management and academic performance, the people with higher level of stress will have the lower academic achievement (Khan, Altaf, & Kausar, 2013). Khan et al. (2014) conducted a study to study the effect of academic stress on students’ performance. 75 males and 75 females’ university students between 18 to 25 years old were participated. “The data was collected by administering the scale in a group to the student participants.” Several hypothesis were discussed at the end of the research. Firstly, “academic stress affects student’s performance.” Students need to accomplish many modules in a less time leads to stress. Secondly, “academic stress will be higher in female students as compared to male students”. The results showed that there no differences in stress between both genders as female students also learned the time management and stress coping strategies. As stated in my research questions, this study has directly answered the questions and give me a good view of what are the differences between my research and others.
Emmanuel, Adom, & Forkuoh, (2014) stated that “female students were moderately stressed compared to male students.” The authors carried out a research to find out the relationship between perceived stress and academic performance. The results have shown that there is no significant relationship between stress and academic performance. The students experienced moderate stress and this does not significantly affect the academic performance. Male students performed better than female students. This difference may be that male students were lower in stress as compared to their female counterparts (Emmanuel et al., 2014). To conclude this study, it showed a negative relationship but not significantly enough to reject the research hypothesis. The hypothesis is “There is no significant relationship between Senior High School Students’ Perceived Stress and Academic Performance”. The direction of this research is also the topic that I want to cover in my research paper. It directly answers my first research question which is what are the significant differences in the reactions to stressors between male and female.
There are few studies that have examined the gender differences in stressors and their academic performance. But then there are only few studies that have examined gender differences and their reaction when they feel stress. Also, past researchers only focused on whether stress affects students’ academic performance but not focus on what are the effects to their academic performance when they feel stressed.
The present study, I will fill the literature gaps above by research on what are the reaction when they feel stressed and what are the effects to the academic performance between male and female.
The sample consists of 30 university students, which are 15 males and 15 females. Participants are randomly selected among the people around me who are study in different universities located in Malaysia. The age range of the sample was 15 to 19 years old.
To measure the possible gender differences in the reaction of stressors and their academic performance, survey questionnaire was selected as an instrument for the study. The survey questionnaire consisted of 16 questions and all the survey questions related to my study to answer the two research questions.
The survey questionnaire was created using google forms. When it is done, the survey questionnaire was distributed to 15 males and 15 females from different universities. The questionnaire was filled out individually. Confidentially of the information gathered was assured. To analyse the data, the data were converted into spreadsheet in the google document.
4. Findings and Discussion
Table 1: Age of the Participants
Table 1 clearly shows the age of the participants that participate in the research. Most of the participants are 18 years old which are 25 people (83.4%). There is only 1 people (3.3%) which are 15 and 17 years old. 3 participants (10%) are 19 years old. Hence, the mode of the age of the participants is 18 years old. The median for the graph above is 17.97 years old.
Foundation in Arts
Foundation in Science
Accounting & Finance
Art & Design
Table 2: Study Major of the Participants
Table 2 shows the study major of the participants. Out of the categories given, 7 (23.4%) fall within the study major of Foundation in Science which is the mode for this table. There are 4 (13.3%) Foundation in Arts students, 2 (6.7%) of Business students, 6 (20%) Accounting & Finance students. There are also 3 (10%) of participants who study Art & Design, 2 (6.7%) Pharmacy students and 1(3.3%) of Dentistry and Food Science students. 4 (13.3%) represent those who did not fall within the study major given.
Chart 1: Feel Comfortable with the Present Level of Stress
Based on the pie chart above which is about whether the participants feel comfortable with their present level of stress, there are 40% of participants chose yes and 60% of the participants chose no. This means that majority of the participants did not feel comfortable with their present level of stress.
Chart 2: Find Any Effective Ways in Coping Stress
Chart 2 shows that did the participants find any effective ways to deal with stress. 44% of the participants had slightly found their ways. 6 person which is 20% of the participants still looking for their ways to cope with stress. Among all the participants, only 3% of the participants chose excellent. This means that only 1 people among 30 participants found an effective way to cope with stress. Majority of the participants slightly found their effective ways to deal with stress.
Graph 1: Ways to Manage Stress
Graph 1 clearly stated the ways to manage stress when the participants feel stressed. Majority of the participants which is 155 people find out their way to manage stress are listen to music and exercise. 12 participants chose to talk to a partner or friend and eat as their ways to manage stress. 4 people stated that they deal with stress by cry, pray about it and reading. This means that they did not select the choices given.
Graph 2: Level of Stress in Life on Average
The finding of this research suggest that gender differences are significant where female showed a significantly higher level of stress as compared to male. As shown in Graph 2, there is only 1 female rated her level of stress as 2 and majority of people rated their level of stress as 3. 6 males and 5 females chose level 4 as their level of stress in life on average. Number of female who rate their level of stress as 5 is more than male. This means that females feel more stress as compared to males. Others researches also support this finding. The studies indicate that females have a higher level of stress as compared to male (Eman, Dogar, Khalid, & Haider, 2012; Madhyastha, Latha, & Kamath, 2014; Matud, Bethencourt, & Ibáñz, 2015). In their results, they found out that females experience higher level of stress than males. This is because “Women seem to be more inclined to experience test anxiety and stress when they are determined to prove their worth in academics especially when the society discourages their right to higher education and makes them feel intellectually inferior to men” (Eman, Dogar, Khalid, & Haider, 2012). Although male and female have similar educational levels and age, female experienced more psychological distress than male. The study “reveal that the women’s style to cope with stress was found to be less healthy than men and they dedicate more time to housework tasks and childcare, at the expense of leisure activities and physical exercise” (Matud, Bethencourt, & Ibáñz, 2015). As mentioned, this research is to find out what are the significant differences of stressors between male and female. The result shows that female experienced more stress as compared to male. Other studies also proved that the level of stress of female slightly higher than male.
Graph 3: Major Causes in Life
Graph 3 is highly related to my research topic as it is about the major causes of stress in life. There are many reasons why students stress. In the results, the major causes of stress of the participants are assignments and exams. The number of people who chose assignments and exams are the same which are 22 participants. Secondly, there are 8 people chose personal issues as their major cause of stress in their life followed by family issues and relationship issues. Many studies indicate that assignments and exams are the major causes of stress (Madhyastha, Latha, & Kamath, 2014; Khan, Altaf, & Kausar, 2013). “Researchers have recognized different important stressors which include excessive assignments, unhealthy competition among class students, fear of failure in educational achievement and lack of pocket money” (Khan, Altaf, & Kausar, 2013). Madhyastha, Latha, & Kamath (2014) proposed that majority of stress have been traced to academic performance such as achieving good grades in examinations. Stresses in various categories were experienced to a moderate degree, with academic pressure and professional identity related issues emerging as more stressful. This is because as Madhyastha, Latha, & Kamath (2014) stated that students start to proceed towards the ending years, they will become more stress and worried about their future. It has proved that the major causes of the students are assignments and exams. Compared with my research, it also showed the same result as the past research. It is highly related to my research question as I will know what are the major causes of stress and it can helps to answer my second research question.
Graph 5: Effect on the Academic Performance
Graph 6: Lose Concentration or Often Make Mistakes in Academic When Fell Stressed
As shown in graph 6, most of the participants feel that stress can make them lose concentration and often make mistakes in their academic.