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ACTION RESEARCH:

Stressors and Coping Mechanisms of UP Students

Enrolled in 18 units or above

By:

Solla, Eugene E.

Viernes, Alvin Claine

In partial fulfillment of the requirements in

EDCO 101 (Introduction to Guidance)

Submitted to:

Dr. Marie Grace A. Gomez

University of the Philippines Diliman

December 2016
Abstract

Entering college is probably one of the most challenging and life-changing parts of most

people. Stress is an inevitable experience. College students get stressed out over specific matters.

Heavy academic workload, difficult subjects, extra-curricular activities, terror professors, etc.

Add to that the pressure that comes from the student himself and the pressure from his peers or

family. Given this, the awareness of every college student about what the stressors are and what

coping mechanisms they use is essential. Stress is not just a simple problem that can be belittled

as it may lead to serious mental problems. The University of the Philippines, the country’s most

prestigious and top university, is home to students who are eager to excel in their academics.The

study focused on the determination of the stressors and coping mechanisms used by UP students

enrolled with 18 units or more. A sample consisting of 89 UP students from various units was

used in the study. The sample consisted of diverse students with different year levels, degree

programs, and home colleges. From the thorough analysis of the data obtained, it was found that

UP students enrolled in 18 units or more are mostly: (1) anxious and worried about what could

happen during the semester (2) lack of sleep, procrastination, and overlapping deadlines are the

most common causes of their stress - all are mainly academic aspects and (3) sleeping, stress

eating, and spending time with friends are the most used coping mechanism - two of which are

positive mechanisms, while the other one, stress eating, is negative. Overall, UP students with 18

units and above have good stress coping mechanisms.

Keywords: ​stressors, coping mechanisms, UP students, college, 18 units


Introduction

Background of the Study

Entering college is probably one of the most challenging and life-changing parts of most

people. Stress is an inevitable experience. College students get stressed out over specific matters.

Heavy academic workload, difficult subjects, extra-curricular activities, terror professors, etc.

Add to that the pressure that comes from the student himself and the pressure from his peers or

family. Given this, the awareness of every college student about what the stressors are and what

coping mechanisms they use is essential. Stress is not just a simple problem that can be belittled

as it may lead to serious mental problems.

The University of the Philippines, the country’s most prestigious and top university, is

home to students who are eager to excel in their academics. Joining organizations and other

extracurricular activities are common practices, too. Despite the difficulty of ensuring one’s slot

to a certain subject, students of the university often obtain 15 units, and if they are lucky enough,

18 units. The burden of those enrolled in 18 units and above is really more hectic to those with

15 units and below. One additional subject can really make a difference in a student’s load.

This study aims, first, to list all the possible contributors to a UP college student’s stress,

specifically those enrolled in 18 units or above, and second, to determine common ways that they

do to cope with the stress.

Value of the Study

This study will help in raising awareness about the stressors encountered by UP students

with 18 units or above, and also, the coping mechanisms that they use to combat these stressors.
Moreover, this study will help students identify what stresses them, and what they do to alleviate

the stress.

Research Questions

1. What are the common expectations of UP students when they enroll with 18 units or

above?

2. What are the stressors encountered by these UP students?

3. What are the stress management mechanisms of these UP students?

Scope and Delimitation

The study focused on the determination of the stressors and coping mechanisms used by

UP students enrolled with 18 units or more.

The study was confined to a sample consisting of 89 UP students from two UP units

(Diliman and Manila). The study was conducted to see how UP students cope with their own

stresses.
Methodology

This study use both qualitative and quantitative method of research. It determines the

stressors and coping mechanisms of students through the use of an online survey consisting of

three major parts: expectations, stressors, and coping mechanisms.

Sample

A sample consisting of 89 UP students from various units was used in the study. The

sample consisted of diverse students with different year levels, degree programs, and home

colleges.

Creating the Instrument

The researchers reviewed the responses to the online survey thoroughly in a span of two

weeks. The online survey developed by the researchers consisted of the following questions:

● Year Level

● College and Degree

● Units Enrolled

● How did it feel when you enroll with 18 units or above this semester?

● As one with 18 units or above, what stresses you?

● What stress management mechanisms do you usually do?


Procedure

The instrument developed was answered through answering an online survey. The

researchers thoroughly investigated the supplied evidences before generalizing. After which, the

researchers used the final verified evidences to come up with the conclusion and

recommendation.
Related Studies

Academic Stress Among College Students: Comparison of American and International

Students ​ ​by Ranjita Misra and Linda G. Castillo (2016)

This study compared academic stressors and reactions to stressors between American and

international students using Gadzella's Life Stress Inventory (B. M. Gadzella, 1991). Five

categories of academic stressors (i.e., frustrations, conflicts, pressures, changes, and

self-imposed) and four categories describing reactions to these stressors (i.e., physiological,

emotional, behavioral, and cognitive) were examined. The sample consisted of 392 international

and American students from 2 Midwestern universities. American students reported higher

self-imposed stressors and greater behavioral reactions to stressors than international students.

Respondent's status (American or international) and interaction of status and stressors emerged

as the 2 strongest predictors of their behavioral, emotional, physiological, and cognitive reaction

to stressors. Five stressors attained statistical significance in the regression model. The findings

emphasize the need to recognize cultural differences in stress management. Implications for

mental health providers in the university arena are discussed.

Self-kindness When Facing Stress: The Role of Self-compassion, Goal regulation, and

Support in College Students’ Well-being by Michelle E. Neely et. al. (2009)

This project brought together the constructs of goal and emotion regulation as a way of

understanding college students’ well-being, building on previous work that identified the ability

to disengage in goal pursuit and to redirect energy toward alternative goals as an important

contributor to well-being. In Study 1, we assessed the amount of variance in well-being


accounted for by measures of goal management, adding to the regression measures of student

stress and self-compassion, the latter defined as a healthy form of self-acceptance and

characterized as a tendency to treat oneself kindly in the face of perceived inadequacy. In Study

2, the stress scale was replaced by measures of perceived need and availability of support.

Across studies, although factors such as goal management, stress, and need for and availability

of support were important predictors of well-being, self-compassion accounted for a significant

amount of additional variance in well-being.

An Examination of the Relationship Among Academic Stress, Coping, Motivation, and

Performance in College by C. Ward Ruthers et. al. (2000)

Empirical evidence suggests that a domain-specific coping style may play an important

role in the way students manage stressful academic events and perform at college. The purpose

of this research was to examine the extent to which college students' academic coping style and

motivation mediate their academic stress and performance. A structural equation analysis

showed that the relationship between college students' academic stress and course grade was

influenced by problem-focused coping and motivation but not emotion-focused coping. As

expected, greater academic stress covaried with lower course grades; however, students who

engaged in problem-focused coping were more likely to be motivated and perform better than

students who engaged in emotion-focused coping. Strategies for promoting more effective

coping in college students are discussed.


Instruments
Results and Discussion

1. What are the common expectations of UP students when they enroll with 18 units or

above?

Among the 89 respondents who answered the online survey (62.8% of which are

sophomore students), most answered that they are anxious and worried about the

workload that they will be facing. On the positive side, a number of students said that

they were excited and blessed to have 18 units or above. Also, there were some who said

that they are very used to it already.

2. What are the stressors encountered by these UP students?

Table 1. Stressors

Distribution of the 89 respondent​s

Stressor Distribution (in %) Stressor Distribution (in %)

Lack of sleep 85.40 Uncooperative mates 47.20

Deadlines 84.30 Skipping meals 40.40

Procrastination 82.00 Less time socially 39.30

Lots of workload 80.90 Terror professors 39.30

Overthinking 74.20 Financial 38.20

Increased roles 74.20 Health 36.00

Multitasking 66.30 Less time to eat 30.30

Academic status 59.60 Less time for lovelife 25.80

Self-doubt 58.40 Alcohol intake 13.50

Poor academics 55.10 Others 3.40


Table 1 shows the distribution of the answers of the 89 respondents. From the data, it can

be seen that the top three stressors according to the respondents were the following: lack of sleep

(85.40%), overlapping deadlines (84.30%), and procrastination (82.00%). Meanwhile, the least

three stressors were the following: less time to eat (30.30%), less time for romantic relationships

(25.80%), and alcohol intake (13.50%).

3. What are the stress management mechanisms of these UP students?

Table 2. Coping mechanisms

Coping Mechanisms

Coping mechanism Distribution (in %) Coping mechanism Distribution (in %)

Sleeping 89.90 Books 30.30

Stress eating 85.40 Travel 25.80

Friends 82.00 Alcohol intake 24.70

Music 80.90 Family 23.60

Praying 79.80 Shouting 22.50

Movies 78.70 Writing 21.30

Games 70.80 Love life 19.10

Hobbies 68.50 Meditate 16.90

Social Media 67.40 Massage 15.70

Shopping 43.80 Stress relievers 13.50

Nature 37.10 Smoking 6.70

Crying 36.00 Other 5.60


Table 2 shows the distribution of the answers of the 89 respondents for their coping

mechanisms. From the data, we can see that the top three ways that the respondents use to

combat stress are the following: sleeping (89.90%), stress eating (85.40%), and spending time

with friends (82.00%). Meanwhile, the least three coping mechanisms are the following:

massage (15.70%), taking stress relievers (13.50%), and smoking (6.70%).


Summary, Conclusion, and Recommendation

Conclusion

From the thorough analysis of the data obtained, the researchers was able to arrive at the

following conclusions:

● UP students with 18 units or more are mostly anxious and worried about what could

happen during the semester;

● Lack of sleep, procrastination, and overlapping deadlines are the most common causes of

their stress - all are mainly academic aspects; and

● Sleeping, stress eating, and spending time with friends are the most used coping

mechanism - two of which are positive mechanisms, while the other one, stress eating, is

negative.

Overall, UP students with 18 units and above have good stress coping mechanisms.

Implication

In light of counselling UP students with 18 or more units, the following are implications:

1) It is helpful to know that many are anxious and worried. This knowledge will help

counsellors have an idea of what the student is going through and will be a good basis for

guiding the students in battling stress.

2) It is helpful to know that their top stressors are highly probably academics-centered and

include lack of sleep, overlapping deadlines, and procrastination. This will help the

counsellors in focusing their intended mechanisms in academic-related approaches and in

formulating ways to help the student, such time management, proper priority set-up,
having enough sleep, doing things on time, proper scheduling, usage of planner, reward

systems, etc.

3) It is helpful to know that their top stress management mechanisms are sleeping,

stress-eating, and spending time with friends. This will help counsellors in

recommending activities that are related to these mechanisms. Or, they may also suggest

better ways in handling stress when these activities are not working.

Recommendation

The researchers recommend the following

1) Include more respondents in the survey.

- Include respondents from all campuses, colleges, departments, and

institutes.

- Include respondents from all year levels.

- Include regular, freshmen, varsity, non-major, graduating, masteral, and

doctoral students.

2) Ask other relevant factors that affect stress such as financial status, family status,

number of organizations, current academic status, plans for the next years in

college or after graduation, working part-time, etc.

3) Consult relevant related studies on stressors and stress management of college

students.
References

Misra, Ranjita; Castillo, Linda G. (2004, May). International Journal of Stress Management, Vol

11(2), 132-148. ​http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/1072-5245.11.2.13​2

Neely, M.E., Schallert, D.L., Mohammed, S.S. et al. Motiv Emot (2009) 33: 88.

doi:10.1007/s11031-008-9119-8

Struthers, C.W., Perry, R.P. & Menec, V.H. Research in Higher Education (2000) 41: 581.

doi:10.1023/A:1007094931292
*​* Raw Data from Respondents

Year Level

I 1

II 57

III 5

IV 20

V 6

Units

18 47

19 13

20 7

21 11

22 1

23 1

others 9

Colleges, Departments, Campuses

UPD Arki CALCS CHE CHK CMC

CSSP Econ Eduk Engg - CE Engg - EEE

Engg - IE Engg - MMM Music NCPAG VSB

UPM CAS - Biochem CD - Dentistry


Stressors

Stress Management Mechanisms