main purpose of this research work was to assess the effects of stress on the
academic performance of students using the Faculty of Education of the
University of Benin as a case study.
research questions were tested by administering 100 copies of (16) item
questionnaire to undergraduates of the Faculty of Education, University of
data generated were analyzed using percentages and the findings discussed. The
result of the study revealed that stress does have effects on the academic
performance of students of the University of Benin.
the findings, the researcher puts forth some recommendations which when
faithfully implemented will bring about general improvement with respect to the
focus of this research.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
of Contents vii
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
to the Study 1
of the Problem 9
of Study 11
of the Study 11
of Terms 13
CHAPTER TWO: REVIEW OF
Meaning and Nature of Stress 19
Classification of Stress 24
Psychological aspect of Stress 26
Coping Mechanism 28
Highly Adaptive, Problem-focused Mechanism 29
Mental Inhibition/disapproval mechanism 31
Active Mechanism 32
Stress Responses 33
Stress Management 36
Stress Prevention and Resilience-building 36
Signs and Symptoms of Stress 37
Some Common Misconceptions about Stress 38
CHAPTER THREE: METHODOLOGY
Research Design 43
Sampling Techniques 44
of Instrument 46
Data Analysis 46
Method of Data
FOUR: PRESENTATION, ANALYSIS OF DATA AND DISCUSSION OF RESULT
Research Question One 48
Research Question Two 50
Research Question Three 53
RESEARCH Question Four 55
Discussion of Findings 57
CHAPTER FIVE: SUMMARY, CONCLUSION AND
Background to the Study
Universities all over the world are places where learning is sought at
its maximum level and it is the center for academic pursuits. It is necessary to remind ourselves of the
objectives of a university because for a proper chart of the university course,
it is paramount to state the mission of universities. According to Henderson (1969), re-echoed by
Omoregbe (1973), universities are meant to fulfill the following functions:
To provide places for pure culture and learning
for learning sake.
To conduct research and advance the boundaries
of knowledge through outlet like workshops, conferences, publications, etc.
To serve as training schools for the
To turn out trained leaders for every walk of
To act as liaison between the so-called “academic
men” and the “good solid practical men” acquisition of balancing theory and
To be the custodian of intellectual freedom,
safe guarding liberty and the unfettered search for truth.
These functions indicate the onerous responsibilities resting on the
universities’ shoulders. For a
university to attain such goals, it has to be properly equipped and focused to
carry out such responsibilities.
Regrettably, Nigerian universities especially the University of Benin
have fallen short of what these ideals are and they are beset by numerous
problems which are affecting their proper functioning and the student in
particular. These problems include:
Provision of basic infrastructural facilities
such as accommodation, power, water and transportation.
Funding of university which include payment of
lecturers’ salaries, allocation of part-time jobs for students and scholarship,
inflation, deflation and unemployment of graduate after graduation.
Parents’ economic status, income of parents as
it affects students.
According to Awe (2000), the problem of Nigerian universities as it
affects undergraduate students have increased over the years with increasing
enrolment and poor funding.
The Faculty of Education in the University of Benin is not left out of
these inadequacies. The lack of basic
infrastructural facilities and parents economic status would in turn directly
affect teaching and learning for the students and this would reflect on their
grade level in school. The lack of these
necessities can be a source of stress to the students. For effective learning to take place, the
right conditions that would be favourable to this memory needs to be set in
Learning and memory can be affected by stress. Although an optimal level of stress can
enhance learning ability (Kaplan and Sadock, 2000), too much stress can cause
physical and mental health problems (Niemo and Vainiomaki, 1999), reduce
students self esteem (Lenn and Zeppa, 1984; Silver and Glicken, 1990) and may
affect academic achievement.
According to high school psychology textbook, stress is a particular
pattern of disturbing psychological and physiological reaction that occurs when
an environment event threatens important motives and taxes one’s ability to
The Medical Review Board, also defined stress as the body’s reaction to
change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response.
The term stress was coined by Han Selye.
Hans was born in Vienna in 1901, Early on, in his second year of medical
school (1926), he began developing his now famous theory on the influence of
stress on people’s ability to cope with and adapt with pressures of injury and
diseases. He discovered that patients
with a variety of ailments manifested many similar symptoms, which he
ultimately attributed to their bodies efforts to respond to stress of being
ill. He called this collection of
symptoms, this separate stress disease, stress syndrome, or the general
adaptation syndrome (GAS).
Selye defined stress as the non-specific response of the body to any
demand made upon it. Each demand made on
the body is unique in that there is a definite response. When we are cold, we shiver; when we are hot,
we perspire; a great muscular effort increases the demand upon the heat and
vascular system. However, whatever the
specific response, there is also activated non-specific response which is
independent of the cause. For example,
the woman who is told that her husband suddenly died, suffers a terrible mental
shock if sometime later, he walks into the room alive and well, she experience
extreme joy. The specific results of the
stress are opposite, but the non-specific effects are the same.
This pioneer in stress research, Professor Hans Selye has gathered
together tens of thousands of pieces of medical study which describe the body’s
reaction to just about every conceivable type of stress. He describes this bank account of nervous
energy thus: It is as though at birth,
each individual inherited a certain amount of adaptation energy. The magnitude of which is determine by his
genetic background. There is just so
much of it and we must budget accordingly (The stress of life, page 15).
Agunlana (1990) has said, that stress is that which man experience when
is under pressure and feel unable to cope.
Stress can be associated with personal goals. Stressful period of life such as judging the
demand of college with the responsibility of job, a family or both has impact
on an individual’s academic achievement.
Stressors abound in our everyday life as would condition and
unsatisfactory living continues to be a problem especially in a challenging
academic environment like our Nigerian universities. With all the multiplied blessings of
civilized westernized, urbanized living comes stress and almost everyone
suffers from it at some time (A guide to family Health, page 24). Basically, stress is the result of an
internal or external disturbance, which threatens the homeostasis of the human
system. All humans whether at work or
outside work environment develop stress when life or well-being is threatened
or when they are faced with such discomforting factors such as induced intense
heat, cold, pain biotic stress vectors, etc (Gherman, 1981).
Many factors have been identified as being the sources of stress in the
university environment. Some of these
Aspiring to achieve more academic status
Inadequate sleep or rest
Over schedule stress caused as a result of poor
management of time.
Knowing all these as a fundamental to a favourable academic performance
of university students, who are important to our economic development, one way
to protect our investment is to help them stay healthy; hence the study of the
effects of stress on the academic performance of students.
Statement of Problem
University students have many obstacles to overcome in order to achieve
optimal academic performance. A number
of researches have been done looking at the correlation of many stress factors
that university students experience and the effects of stress on their
GPA. However, a review of literature
indicates that not much have been prioritized on the stress-related
research. Moreover, a majority of the
investigation has taken place in the United States of America and the emphasis
was placed more on the students in the medical field.
However, there is not much research conducted to examine these particular
findings in our local universities and Nigerian university particularly in the
University of Benin.
Therefore, it is timely to conduct research to examine this particular
issue as findings from the present study would benefit various parties in the
university especially the students and the Academic Affair Department in
planning and conducting necessary programmes for the students so that
stress-related factors could be reduced and better academic performance could
be achieved by the students.
Are the University of Benin students under
Does stress affect academic performance of
What are the common causes of stress for the
university of Benin students
How does stress affect the health of the
University of Benin students?
Purpose of the Study
The study attempts to find out the effects of stress on the academic
performance of students of the University of Benin. Also, if there is a correlation between
stress, academic performance and the health of students.
Significance of the Study
The finding of this study, after it has well been disseminated will
create an awareness on what stress is, its causes and its effect on academic
performance of students.
This study is delimited to the University of Benin undergraduate students
only. The respondents would be randomly
selected with questionnaire for the students.
There are some number of factors that might affect the findings of this
research. Some of which are:
Students may not be honest with response to
Students are currently on vacation and that
would result to limited response.
Difficulties in sourcing relevant materials.
Low level of enlightenment on subject area on
the part of the respondent which may result to low quality response.
Definition of Terms
For the purpose of clarity, the following terms are used in this essay
are defined as follows:
Stressors: These are chemical or biological agent,
environmental condition, external stimulus or an event that causes stress to an
Health: According to WHO, it is not
just the absence of mental disorder. It
is defined as a state of well-being, in which every individual realizes his or
her own potentials, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work
productively and fruitfully and is able to make contribution to his or her
Syndrome: These are groups of
symptoms or characteristic of stress. It
could be a psychological disorder or an abnormal condition.
Performance: It refers to how
students deal with their studies and how they cope or accomplish different task
given them by their teachers.