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Validation of an Australian Academic

Stress Questionnaire
Natasha Lakaev
Bond University, Australia

he aim of the study was to establish the Lakaev Academic Stress Response Scale
(LASRS; Lakaev, 2006) as a valid and reliable measure of stress
responses. The sample consisted of 375 Bond University students
from several countries (142 Australia, 5 New Zealand, 68 United
States, 8 Canada, 65 Asian, 66 Europe and 21 other) and from
various levels of tertiary education (266 undergraduate and 109 postgraduate). Participants completed six self-report questionnaires that
related to, acculturative stress, somatic stress symptoms, academic
stress, stress responses, extraversion and general stress in order to
determine convergent and divergent validity. The LASRS was shown
to have sound psychometric properties and was suggested to be a
sound way of measuring academic stress responses, particularly for
Australian students. The results are discussed in terms of past tertiary
academic stress research and suggestions for future investigations.
KEYWORDS: cross-cultural academic stress, Australian academic stress,
Stress Response Scale, cross-cultural

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Tertiary students experience significantly greater than average levels of stress (Hall,
Chipperfield, Perry, Ruthig, & Goetz, 2006; Moffat, McConnachie, Ross, &
Morrisson, 2004). This stress comes from various aspects of life including developmental and social changes, financial and accommodation problems, work demands,
and the specific demands of academia (Misra & McKean, 2000; Ross, Cleland, &
Macleod, 2006). Often the demands of work, study and personal needs collide,
tipping the balance and resulting in disequilibrium and excessive stress (Michie,
Glachan, & Bray, 2001). Poor coping strategies and personality types may result in
additional stress in certain individuals, leading to negative patterns of behaviour
and decreased academic performance (Abouserie, 1994; Tyssen, Dolatowski, Rovik,
Thorkildsen, Ekeberg et al., 2007). When discussing student populations it is also
pertinent to consider the prefrontal cortex, which assists decision making, as often
it does not complete its development until age 21 or later (Kagan & Baird, 2004).
This variability in students maturity suggests even greater variability in individuals
stress interpretation, responses and reactions to stressors.

Address for correspondence: Natasha Lakaev, Omaroo Hunter Street, Burringbar NSW 2483, Australia. E-mail:
awake@lytemail.com.au

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Volume 19 Number 1 2009 pp. 5670

In Australia, there have been a small number of studies published regarding


international student academic stress and acculturative psychological distress (e.g.,
Ballard, 1987; Burns, 1991; Kennedy, 1995; Khawaja & Dempsey, 2007; Oei &
Notowidjojo, 1990; Radford, Mann, Ohta, & Nakane, 1993); however, there has
not been a great deal of investigation into domestic born Australian student academic stress. Much of what exists is several decades old (e.g., McMichael &
Hetzel, 1974) or is specific to physiological reactions to the transition from secondary to tertiary education (e.g., Boyd & Chaseling, 1992; Farnill & Robertson,
1990). For example, Farnill and Robertson assessed 261 first-year Australian students. The students completed the Brief Symptom Inventory (Derogatis, 1975),
which assesses psychological symptoms, mid-year (low stress time) and at the end
of the academic year (higher stress time). The results found that 42% of students
had frequent sleep disturbances that aligned with stressful life experience at the
highest stress times of the university year. The sleep disturbances associated with
academic study may result in physical stress placed on the body and therefore the
increased stress students experience through the year may result from increased
physical strain. Another study conducted by Winefield (1993) found that
Australian undergraduate students suffered psychological distress, due to less supportive interactions with other students, teaching staff and financial hardship. It is
intended that the current study be added to the Australian literature to help
develop a more precise picture of how Australian-born nationals react to academic
stress along with stress mediators.
In comparison to their domestic counterparts, foreign students are at higher risk
of psychological problems due to stress (Huan, Yeo, Ang, & Chong, 2006; Lee &
Bradley, 2005; Mortenson, 2006; Sandhu & Asrabadi, 1991). International students have a high risk of psychological problems due to the many adjustments they
are required to make in their social, academic and cultural lives when they enter a
new society (Sandhu & Asrabadi). They suffer from loneliness due to homesickness, anxiety, depression and disorientation. Numerous studies have found this to
be the case in America (Brown & Lee, 2005), Britain (Greenland & Brown, 2005;
Huan et al) and Australia (Sonderegger & Barrett, 2004). Chinese and East Asian,
Malaysian, Korean, African, Turkish, Latin American, and European students who
study internationally have all reported heightened academic stress and acculturative issues within their host country (Huan et al; Lin, 2007; Ninggal, 1998; Odera,
2007; Shin, Han, & Kim, 2007; Tomas-Sabado, Qureshi, & Montserrat, 2007).
When looking at stress responses and reactions across cultures there are differences in the expression of stress between cultures. It has been shown that Asian students react to academic failure with shame, embarrassment and loss of face within
their social framework, especially in regards to their family (Matsumoto, 1991).
Members of Asian cultures (e.g., Chinese and Japanese) view any outward display
of emotion in regards to personal distress as disruptive of the social atmosphere
(Wellenkamp, 1995). When Americans experience stress it is viewed as an obstruction to attaining goals, needs and desires (Mesquita, 2001). Mesquita found that
American tertiary students view academic failures as missed opportunities and subsequently express the resulting stress as frustration. American students then tend to
go into an action mode of expressing emotions (Frijda, Kuipers, & Schure, 1989)
by analysing the issue and their persona extensively (Burleson & Mortenson,

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Australian Academic Stress Scale

Natasha Lakaev

2003). Hence, American students actively seek social support (Matsumoto). Much
like Americans, Europeans perceive stress as something to be overcome or conquered which may build resilience and capacity to achieve (Mesquita). In a study
looking at Norwegian students personality traits that would surface under stress, it
was found that neuroticism was a trait that predicts vulnerability to stress (Tyssen
et al., 2007). However, when this is combined with low extroversion and high conscientiousness a brooding personality was detected in the European students.

The Current Study


The current study seeks to validate a new instrument that measures students affective, behavioural, physiological and cognitive responses to stress during their
attempts to maintain homeostasis. The Lakaev Academic Stress Response Scale
(LASRS; Lakaev, 2006) will be assessed to establish the psychometric properties of
the scale and its proficiency in measuring specific stress responses in university students. Specifically, the content, construct, criterion, convergent and divergent validity of the LASRS will be examined along with reliability. The validation of the
LASRS will provide a purpose-designed measure of the experience of stress reactions in response to tertiary studies. In light of a positive previous use (Lakaev,
2006; Lakaev, 2008) the LASRS is expected to provide a reliable and valid measure
of academic stress response, and will prove useful in predicting specific academic
stress response problems in university students.

Method
Participants

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Participants were recruited from the Bond University student population. A total of
375 consented to participate: 207 female, 168 male. The mean age of participants
was 24.50, and ages ranged from 17 to 57. The sample comprised 266 undergraduates, 67 postgraduates, 39 masters, 1 doctoral and 2 other students. Recruitment
targeted a multicultural sample and 210 indicated that they were international students compared to 165 domestic students. Students country of origin comprised
142 Australia, five New Zealand, 68 USA, eight Canada, 49 East Asia (Japan,
Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, China, Philippines and Indonesia), 16 Other Asia
(India), 66 Europe (France, Sweden, Norway, Germany, Poland, Turkey, Spain,
Portugal, Britain, Finland, Malta, Denmark, Austria and Italy), and 21 other. One
hundred and eighty-eight students spoke English as their first language, 144 spoke
English as their second language, and 43 had a mixture of languages as their
second language and were consequently multi-lingual with English as one of their
spoken languages.
Measures

Six instruments were administered to all participants to evaluate academic stress


and to be used as comparison measures to the LASRS, along with a demographic
questionnaire.

Australian Academic Stress Scale

Chinese Stress Symptom Checklist. Cheng and Hamid (1996) constructed the CSSC
to reflect that East Asians (Chinese) suffer greater somatisation symptoms when
stressed than do Western nationalities (primarily Caucasians). It is a self-report,
paper and pencil questionnaire consisting of 40 items with two subscales: a 20 item
subscale of Physical Symptoms, and a 20 item subscale of Psychological Symptoms.
Participants are asked to indicate how frequently they have been affected by a stress
symptom in the past month on a 5-point frequency Likert scale (Cheng & Hamid)
with the anchors of Never (0), Sometimes (1), Neutral (2), Often (3) and Frequently
(4). The CSSC has excellent internal consistency with Cronbachs alpha for the
student sample of = .94 for the total score, = .88 for the Physical Symptoms
subscale and = .92 for the Psychological Symptoms subscale, and virtually identical for the adult sample; overall alpha = .94, Physical Symptoms subscale = .87
and Psychological Symptoms subscale = .92 (Cheng & Hamid, 1996). Due to the
high internal consistency the three measures allow the scale subgroups to be used
independently or in combination to create the overall score (Cheng & Hamid,
1996). In the current study a Cronbachs alpha of = .96 was found for the overall
CSSC scale with the subscales producing Cronbach alphas for Physical Symptoms
= .94 and Psychological Symptoms = .94. These Cronbach alphas were in alignment with the excellent results produced by Cheng and Hamid (1996).
Depression Anxiety Stress Scale. The DASS-21 is a short version of the full scale
DASS, and consists of 21 statements that describe symptoms of depression, anxiety
and stress (Antony, Bieling, Cox, Enns, & Swinson, 1998). The DASS-21 consists
of 21 items divided into three subscales, each containing seven items per subscale:
Depression, Anxiety, and Stress. Participants are asked to indicate the extent to
which they have experienced symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress over the
past week. It is a self-report measure using a 4-point severity/frequency Likert scale
(Lovibond & Lovibond, 1995) with the anchors of Did not apply to me at all (0),
Applied to me to some degree, or some of the time (1), Applied to me to a considerable degree, or a good part of the time (2), and Applied to me very much, or
most of the time (3). Cronbach alphas for Depression = .94, Anxiety = .87, and

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Acculturative Stress Scale for International Students. Sandhu and Asrabadi (1994)
constructed the ASSIS to measure the psychological reactions of international students in the following areas: perceived deprivation, alienation, loneliness, homesickness, hate, fear, stress due to change and guilt. The ASSIS is a self-report, paper
and pencil questionnaire consisting of 36 items with seven subscales: Perceived
Discrimination, Homesickness, Perceived Hate, Fear, Stress Due to Change/
Cultural Shock, Guilt, and Nonspecific. Participants are asked to circle the number
that best describes their response on a 5-point Likert scale with the anchors
Strongly disagree (1), Disagree (2), Not sure (3), Agree (4) and Strongly agree (5).
The ASSIS has been found to have high internal consistency scores ranging from
= .87 to .95 for the total items measured by Cronbachs alpha (Sandhu &
Asrabadi, 1998). In the current study a Cronbach alpha of = .97 was found for
the overall ASSIS scale. The subscales had the following Cronbach alphas:
Perceived Discrimination = .91, Homesickness = .77, Perceived Hate = .81,
Fear = .89, Stress Due to Change/Cultural Shock = .78, Guilt = .60 and
Nonspecific = .93.

Natasha Lakaev

Stress = .91 have been found for the DASS-21 by Antony et al.. In the current
study Cronbach alphas were found for the subscales of the DASS-21, with
Depression = .87, Anxiety = .87 and Stress = .86.
Eysenck Personality Questionnaire Revised (Extraversion). The EPQ-R(E),
(Eysenck & Eysenck, 2006) is a tool based upon Eysencks (1967) biosocial personality theory in which personality is the product of biological factors and the
interaction between temperance and environment and contains three temperament
traits: psychotism or tough mindedness (P), extraversion-introversion (E) and neuroticism or emotionality (N) which interact with the environment to produce personality (Kemp & Center, 1998). Eysencks instrument also contains a Lie (L) scale
that has been shown to function as an index of socialisation or social conformity
(Eysenck & Eysenck, 1975). The EPQ-R(E) is a self-report, paper and pencil questionnaire consisting of 12 items and is a component of the 48 item EPQ-R Short
Scale, designed specifically for survey use, providing quick measures of E, N, P and
L. Participants are asked how much they agree with each statement and to put a
circle around the yes or no (Eysenck & Eysenck, 2006) following the question.
Alpha coefficients reported for all scales are, for P = .78 (males) and = .76
(females), for E = .90 (males) and = .85 (females), for N = .88 (males) and
= .85 (females), and for L = .82 (males) and = .79 (females) (Eysenk, Eysenk,
& Barrett, 1985). In the current study a Cronbachs alpha of = .63 was found for
the overall EPQ-R(E) Short Scale.

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Student-life Stress Inventory Scale. The SSI is a tool designed to measure tertiary students stressors and their reactions to these stressors. It is a self-report, paper and
pencil questionnaire consisting of 51 items with nine subscales based upon a theoretical model by Morris (1990). The model focuses upon five types of Stressors:
Frustrations, Conflicts, Pressures, Changes, and Self-Imposed. Also four types of
Reactions to Stressors are assessed: Physiological, Emotional, Behavioural, and
Cognitive Appraisal. Participants are asked to indicate the option that best
describes their experience of stress using a 5-point frequency Likert scale (Gadzella,
1991) with the anchors of Never (0), Seldom (1), Occasionally (2), Often (3) and
Most of the Time (4). Internal consistency has been supported for 381 students
(males n = 120, females n = 258) and was = .92 for the overall test scale. Total
Stressors reported a Cronbachs alpha of = .92, Frustrations = .70, Conflicts
= .68, Pressures = .80, Changes = .86, Self-imposed = .63, Total Reactions to
Stressors = .75, Physiological = .86, Emotional = .82, Behavioural = .71,
and Cognitive Appraisal = .82 (Gadzella & Baloglu, 2001). In the current study a
Cronbachs alpha of = .95 was found for the overall SSI scale, with the subscales
of Frustrations = .81, Conflicts = .88, Pressure = .81, Changes = .88, Selfimposed = .79, Total Stressors = .92, Physiological = .89, Emotional = .86,
Behavioural = .83, Cognitive = .87 and Total Reactions to Stressors = .93
Lakaev Academic Stress Response Scale. The LASRS (Lakaev, 2006) was used within
the current study for an exploratory factor analysis. It is a measure of stress
response developed specifically for quantifying stress in university students in the
stress response domains: Physiological, Behavioural, Cognitive, and Affective.
Respondents rate how much of the time they experience symptoms on a 5-point

Likert scale (Lakaev, 2006) with the anchors None of the Time (1), A Little of the
Time (2), Some of the Time (3), Most of the Time (4), and All of the Time (5).
Items are summed for subscale scores and subscales are summed for a total LASRS
stress response score. Higher scores indicate a greater stress response. Items for the
LASRS were generated from a review of the general stress and academic stress literature. Twenty-seven items were selected and then tested in a pilot study; forty-five
student volunteers completed the 27 items as well as the Kessler-10, a measure of
non-specific psychological distress. The 27 items were then submitted to a principal
components analysis, which confirmed the 4-factor component structure of the
questionnaire. Reliability analysis of the four factors using the leave-one-out procedure suggested that the scales would be improved by discarding six items. The
remaining 21 items yielded acceptable to excellent internal consistency ranging
from .63 to .92. These 21 items became the LASRS as used in the present study to
measure student responses to academic stress.
In the current study, the analysis was conducted on a sample of 375 mixed
nationality university students from Bond University. Assumptions of adequate
sample size, missing values, normality, linearity, outliers, singularity and multicollinearity were assessed prior to analysis to determine the datas suitability for
factor analysis. Several multivariate outliers were detected and were subsequently
removed from the data set resulting in a total of 370 cases in the factor analysis.
The majority of inter-item correlations were greater than .30 suggesting the use of
oblique rotation (Tabachnik & Fidell, 2007).
A Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (KMO) analysis supported factorability, R = .92 and
Bartletts test indicated a breach of sphericity, 2 = 4097.46, df = 210, p = < .01.
However, factor analysis is robust to breaches of sphericity especially when the
sample size is large (Tabachnik & Fidell, 2007). A Cattell scree plot and Kaisers
criterion identified a 4-factor solution that explained 63% of variance in scores.
Using Maximum Likelihood to obtain squared multiple correlations and goodnessof-fit tests, 4-factor solution was accepted as it allowed for a succinct structure of
items and factors and accounted for 54% of the variance. The goodness-of-fit test
showed a significant likelihood ratio, 2 = 271.36, df = 132, p = <.01 which indicates an inadequate fit of the model (Byrne, 2001). This test is however considered
to be a very stringent estimation of the goodness-of-fit and unrealistically seeks to
find a model that perfectly matches that of the population (Byrne). Furthermore, as
the sample size increases, the significant likelihood ratio test increases the 2 value,
resulting in an overinflated value (Byrne). Due to these shortcomings of the significant likelihood rotation, it was decided to use the alternative 2 /df ratio (Byrne). It
was found that the 2 value was more than twice that of the degrees of freedom
(271.36/132) which indicates an adequate goodness-of-fit.
This analysis generally supported the hypothesised 4-factor structure of the
LASRS, with affective (factor 1), behavioural (factor 2), physiological (factor 3),
and cognitive (factor 4) stress responses evident. All item loadings on the Cognitive
factor were negative, suggesting that this factor was identifying a process other
than stress response as seen in the first three factors. Further analysis with consideration of the literature, suggested that this factor may be tapping worry. Worry is
considered to be a distraction that provides short-term relief from stress and
anxiety responses (Ginsberg, 2008; Szabo & Lovibond, 2006), and thus would be

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Australian Academic Stress Scale

Natasha Lakaev

TABLE 1
Factor Loadings for Maximum Likelihood Oblique Rotation of the LASRS
Factor
Item
20. My work built up so much that I felt like crying

Affective

Behavioural

Physiological

Cognitive

.30

.37

.83

19. I felt emotional

.82

6. My emotions stop me from studying

.50

12. I yelled at family or friends

.43

18. I felt emotionally drained by university

.37

.35

3. I felt I was lazy when it came to university work

.74

11. I procrastinated on assignments

.63

17. I was distracted in class

.62

16. I was unable to study

.53

1. I had trouble concentrating in class

.51

8. I avoided class

.50

2. I used alcohol or drugs

.47

7. I have trouble remembering my notes

.35

.33

9. I couldnt breathe

.80

21. I had difficulty eating

.75

14. My hands were sweaty

.71

15. I have had a lot of trouble sleeping

.67

10. I had headaches

.64

4. I felt overwhelmed by the demands of study

.71

13. I felt worried about coping with my studies


5. There is so much going on that I cant think straight

.53
.37

.50

Total Items
Alpha Coefficents
Cronbach Alpha

.82

.82

.85

.89

Note: Exploratory factor analysis with maximum likelihood extraction.

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expected to show a pattern of negative loadings compared to stress responses. The


Cognitive factor requires further study however it was decided to leave it in the
current study. There were four items that were split loaded (5, 6, 16 and 18). In
each case the item was included in the factor on which it loaded highest. Item 18
was evenly split loaded between the Affective and Cognitive factor; it was decided
to place it in the Cognitive factor as it was similar to the others that loaded in to
the Cognitive factor. The results of the analysis are presented in Table 1.
Procedure

Approval was gained by the Bond University Human Research Ethics Committee
before beginning the testing. Participants were recruited from Bond University.
Researchers approached students within the main campus library over a two-week
period. Participants were given an Explanatory Statement outlining the details of the
study and were encouraged to read the statement. Those that agreed to participate

Australian Academic Stress Scale

TABLE 2
Means and Standard Deviations (SD) for the ASSIS, CSSC, SSI, LASRS, and DASS Stress
Scale

Mean

SD

Total ASSIS ( = .97)

.64

.77

Total CSSC ( = .96)

.93

.77

Total SSI ( = .95)

2.20

.55

Total LASRS ( = .91)

1.17

.71

DASS Stress ( = .91)

.94

.68

were asked to sign the consent form. Participants then completed the demographics
sheet and the ASSIS, CSSC, SSI, LASRS, EPQR-(E) and DASS questionnaires in the
library, either individually or in groups. The order of the questionnaires was counterbalanced to prevent fatigue effects. The researcher remained visible in the area for
participants to ask questions, and then collected the questionnaires after 30 minutes.
A Debriefing Letter, explaining the purpose of the study and how to access the
research findings, was given to each participant upon return of the questionnaires.

The analysis will assess the validity of the LASRS in comparison to other established stress and academic stress scales. A total N = 375 was used for the analysis.
To ensure data quality descriptive analyses were conducted. Means, standard deviations and alpha coefficents for the ASSIS, CSSC, SSI, LASRS, DASS Stress scale
are presented in Table 2. As Table 2 shows, participants scored highest on the SSI.
Data was inspected for missing values and data entry errors; corrections were
made for errors found. Missing data was adjusted using the recommended median
replacement as per Tabachnick and Fidell (2007). The data was then analysed for
normality, univariate and multivariate outliers, linearity and multicollinearity, and
homogeneity of variancecovariance matrices. Four cases were identified as multivariate outliers using Mahalanobis distance at p < .001 and were excluded from
further analysis leaving n = 371. Bivariate scatter plots demonstrated that multivariate assumptions of normality, homogeneity of variance and linearity were met.
Correlation Analysis

The relationship between the scales utilised was determined via bivariate correlation analysis. Displayed in Table 3 are the Pearson product-moment correlation
coefficients for total scores on the ASSIS, CSSC, SSI, EPQ-R(E), LASRS and DASS
Stress. As Table 3 shows, all the stress scales used as dependent variables were
strongly significantly correlated. However, the ASSIS was not as strongly correlated
as the others, suggesting it is measuring a different type of stress. The EPQ-R(E)
was only significantly correlated with the ASSIS. The EPQ-R(E) was negatively correlated with all of the stress scales, demonstrating divergent validity with the
LASRS. The LASRS correlated between .61 and .74 with other stress scales, indicating good to moderate convergent validity.

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Results

Natasha Lakaev

TABLE 3
Correlation Coefficients for ASSIS, CSSC, SSI, LASRS, EPQ-R(E) and DASS Stress Scores
Total ASSIS

Total CSSC

Total SSI

.32**

.25**

.72**
1

Total ASSIS
Total CSSC
Total SSI
Total LASRS

Total LASRS

Total EPQ-R(E)

DASS Stress

.24**

.14**

.21**

.74**

.08

.67**

.68**

.03

.62**

.03

Total EPQ-R(E)

.61**

.05

DASS Stress

Note: * p < .05, ** p < .01.

TABLE 4
Correlation Coefficients for SSI Subscales and LASRS Subscales

SSI
Physiological
Emotional
Behavioural
Cognitive

SSI

LASRS

Physiological Emotional Behavioural Cognitive

Cognitive Physiological Behavioural Affective

LASRS
Cognitive
Physiological
Behavioural
Affective

.58**
1

.57**
.74**
1

.33**
.49**
.45**
1

.54**
.51**
.44**
.26**

.67**
.29**
.32**
.15*

.31**
.34**
.38**
.12*

.57**
.60**
.57**
.28**

.55**
1

.56**
.32**
1

.74**
.56**
.56**
1

Note: * p < .05, ** p < .01.

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The SSI was included in this study to assess the construct validity of the LASRS
as they comprise similar subscales. Subscales of the LASRS (Affective, Behavioural,
Physiological and Cognitive) and the SSI (Emotional, Behavioural, Physiological
and Cognitive) were submitted to bivariate correlational analysis. As Table 4
shows all subscales on the SSI and LASRS were significantly correlated. However,
there were discrepancies in correlations of the same domain. For example, the SSI
Behavioural scale was more highly correlated with the LASRS Affective scale than
the LASRS Behavioural. The SSI Physiological and the LASRS Physiological scales
were highly correlated, and the SSI Cognitive Appraisal and LASRS Cognitive
scales were also significantly correlated. The SSI Emotional and LASRS Affective
scales were well correlated. This suggests that both scales are measuring the same
general construct but do not discriminate optimally between domains.
In order to determine criterion validity, correlations between the DASS subscales
and the LASRS subscales were assessed. As Table 5 shows, there were significant
correlations between all of the LASRS subscales and the DASS subscales. The
Pearson coefficients ranged from low (.29) to moderate (.74) indicating the LASRS
stress scales shared a fair relationship with depression and anxiety.

Australian Academic Stress Scale

TABLE 5
Correlation Coefficients for the DASS Subscales and LASRS Subscales
DASS

DASS
Depression
Anxiety
Stress

LASRS

Depression

Anxiety

Stress

Physiological

Behavioural

Affective

Cognitive

.57**
1

.69**
.70**
.1

.31**
.69**
.52**

.42**
.26**
.32**

.56**
.50**
.64**

.38**
.44**
.54**

.32**
.1

.56**
.56**
1

.55**
.56**
.74**
1

LASRS
Physiological
Behavioural
Affective
Cognitive
Note: ** p < .01.

The study conducted a factor analysis and investigation of validity on the LASRS, a
newly developed academic stress response scale. It was predicted that the LASRS
would be a reliable and valid measure of tertiary academic stress response and that
it would show to have construct validity in a factor analysis. Furthermore, the
LASRS was expected to have respectable psychometric properties of content, criterion, convergent and divergent validity.
The LASRS produced excellent reliability using Cronbachs alpha for the overall
LASRS scale and the LASRS subscales. The internal consistency of the LASRSs
total and subscale scores was good and all alphas were above .80. This indicates
that the LASRS is a reliable measure of academic stress responses. The results confirmed the predicted 4-factor structure of the LASRS and that it was generally comparable to the alike subscales of the SSI. Affective, Behavioural, Physiological and
Cognitive factors were extracted and accounted for a significant proportion of
variance with adequate goodness-of-fit of the model obtained. The Cognitive factor
comprised of negative loaded items indicating that items on the Cognitive factor
generally decrease as items on the other factor scores increase. Further investigation of the Cognitive items and the literature suggested the most plausible explanation is that the Cognitive items were tapping the construct of worry (e.g., I felt
worried about coping with my studies). Worry is generally accepted as the cognitive process whereby repetitive thoughts give the illusion of improving performance, while providing brief relief from stress (Ginsberg, 2008; Szabo & Lovibond,
2006). Primarily the factor analysis helped to correct the organisation of items
across domains, showing that the pilot studys organisation of items was not succinct. These adjustments suggest that the LASRS has good construct validity when
used in a context similar to this study.
The LASRS demonstrated good convergent and divergent validity when assessed
against the ASSIS, CSSC, SSI, DASS Stress and the EPQ-R(E). The LASRS showed
to be highly correlated with CSSC, SSI and DASS Stress indicating that the LASRS
measurement of stress is in alignment with that of reputable scales. The LASRS,

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Discussion

Natasha Lakaev

along with the other stress scales, showed a low correlation with the ASSIS, indicating that the ASSIS is measuring a different type of stress (i.e., the ASSIS focuses
upon acculturative stress). The EPQ-R(E) was used for divergent validity analysis
and had a negative correlation as expected. This direction was expected as extroversion has a negative relationship with stress in that those who are stressed, are more
likely to behave more introvertedly, as proposed by Eysenck and Eysenck (2006).
The SSI and LASRS subscales were assessed to determine if the LASRS subscales
(Affective, Behavioural, Physiological and Cognitive) had validity against another
measure of these stress responses. The results showed that the scales significantly
positively correlated, with only the correlation between Cognitive factors being
low. Criterion validity was predicted to be shown between the LASRS measures of
stress and the related constructs of depression and anxiety. Lovibond (1998) states
that the independent constructs of stress, depression and anxiety consistently show
a moderate to strong correlation and that the DASS can be used to determine the
unique effect of each. Correlations between the subscales of the LASRS and the
DASS Anxiety and Depression scales showed a moderate relationship between the
constructs. This supports that the LASRS is a valid measure of stress in that it can
be used to predict scores on a separate but related construct.
Limitations

66

While there were many strengths to this study some limitations were apparent. It
was conducted in an uncontrolled manner and environment within the Bond
University Library across a 2-week period. This means that the participants did not
complete the questionnaire in a controlled environment and that not all participants completed the questionnaire in the same context. Further to this, considering
the diverse range of cultures tested and the large age range of students, differences
may have been present in regards to stress exposure, resilience and coping strategies of students. Further assessment of the LASRS scale using other comparison
measures would assist in verifying the scales validity. The LASRS was initially
based on responses from Australian university students and therefore may have
impacted upon results for the international students. However, their results on the
LASRS were in line with those from the other scales. The stability of the LASRS is
unclear as no testretest analysis was performed. Language may have also been a
barrier as many of the students who participated in the study did not have English
as their first language.
Strengths

The study had numerous strengths however the most notable is the sample size (N
= 375). The Affective, Behavioural and Physiological factors of the LASRS should
prove useful in quantifying ineffective responses to academic stress both in domestic tertiary students and across various groups of international students. The
Cognitive factor of the LASRS requires additional verification before it can be considered as psychometrically sound as the other subscales.
Future Research

Further research would be beneficial in the area of tertiary academic stress for
Australian born domestic students as very little is available on this subject, especially as this study suggested that Australian students had high responses to stress.

Australian Academic Stress Scale

Another area of concern is the lack of recent data in regards to international students academic stress experiences within the Australian tertiary context. It is
strongly suggested that more research be conducted in this area to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the psychological processes in relation to stress of university students. Furthermore, there is also a lack of notable data on our domestic
students and how they respond to stress and its associated stressors. Investigations
in this area would go a long way to developing appropriate support and counselling
services for both domestic and international students suffering academic stress. The
LASRS could be used in other Australian universities to compare different international student populations to Australian born tertiary students, as well as in other
countries for domestic and international comparison. In addition other studies may
focus upon Australian born domestic students, utilising the LASRS to develop an
educated view of stress levels within our tertiary structures.
In summary, the LASRS has shown to be a psychometrically sound academic
stress scale and should be submitted to further statistical analysis in order to establish it as a stable measure of academic stress responses.

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