The relationship between perceived academic stress and academic performance among undergraduate students. case study: Makerere University
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This study investigated the relationship between perceived academic stress and academic performance among university undergraduate students of Makerere University; the target population being students from the College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS). The mediating roles of the students’ gender, year of study and academic self-efficacy in the relationship between stress and academic performance were also examined. The study was carried out using a cross-sectional survey design. The sample consisted of 76 male and 78 female students selected using stratified random sampling techniques, from all the three schools under CoBAMS. Data was collected using questionnaires that measured stress and self-efficacy. Academic performance was assessed using students’ GPA. Both descriptive and inferential statistics were used for data analyses. Chi- square statistics were used to test the statistical significance of the hypotheses. Regression analysis was also conducted to find out how the confounding variables contributed to the relationship between stress and academic performance. The analyses were done using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) computer program. The findings of this research show that majority of the students experienced between moderate to high levels of stress (M=3.53, SD= 0.461) given that many of them (61.27%) were confident enough to handle stressors in a positive manner. The relationship between stress and academic performance was statistically significant (r =-0.482, p<0.05) at 0.05 level of significance; with the results showing that academic factors/sources of stress appeared to be the most stressful for all the students (M=3.69 and SD = 0.515) followed by personal factors, relation factors and lastly environmental factors causing the least amount of stress. Female students were found to be slightly more stressed compared to their male counterparts. Second year students reported to have received a lot of academic stress (M=3.61, SD=0.416), followed by third-year students and lastly first year students due to the pressure originated from the course overloads. In terms of self-efficacy, results showed that male students reported slightly higher levels of self-efficacy (M=3.76, SD=0.459) compared to the females (M=3.75, SD= 0.477). Third-year students were found to possess the highest levels of academic self-efficacy (M=3.78, SD=0.528) followed by second-year students and lastly first-year students who scored the least efficacy score. Regression analysis showed that the higher the stress level, the poorer is the academic performance. However, only year of study and self-efficacy appear to have statistically significant effect on the relationship between stress and academic performance. The findings indicate the need for relevant authorities to sanction programs that will lower the experience and effects of stress among university students and also to create a supportive and calm educational environment with students being given more attention if both parties seek to achieve academic excellence.. Keywords: Perceived Academic Stress, Stressors, Academic Performance and Academic Self-Efficacy.
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