Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The relationship between stress and retention within science undergraduates, their use of support and the potential remedial effect of stress education
Author: Harris, Patricia Jayne
ISNI:       0000 0004 6422 4038
Awarding Body: Edinburgh Napier University
Current Institution: Edinburgh Napier University
Date of Award: 2016
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
Students experience stress due to many factors including educational unpreparedness, financial strain and the inability to integrate socially. This mixed methods study aimed to investigate stress levels of undergraduate students in a post-1992, Scottish university and the potential for measures of stress to act as an indicator of student withdrawal. Additionally, the project was concerned with students' use of support services and the development of a resource to facilitate student resilience with the aim to impact positively on retention. The level of perceived stress reported by students appeared to be high and was coupled with intention to dropout across all study levels. Students' psychological wellbeing appeared to be much lower than results published for the general population and actual withdrawal within the sampled cohort was higher than the University's formal figures would suggest. Perceived stress predicted a student's intention to withdraw but this association did not transfer to actual withdrawal suggesting that other factors, most likely coping mechanisms, play a part in mediating the withdrawal behaviour. Further data collection is required to confirm if a combination of perceived stress and coping data more accurately predicts actual withdrawal, however results showed that measures of perceived stress could be used to indicate a proportion of ‘at risk' students. Low use of avoidance and distraction coping was a better predictor of low self-reported stress than was high use of adaptive coping and this may have implications for interventions that endeavour to reduce stress through improved coping. Despite the seemingly high levels of stress and potential worry over dropout, students were reluctant to seek support and many were unaware of the support services available. An online, stress education resource was developed to build students' understanding of stress and the support available. It was envisaged that this would reduce stigma, aid in student self-awareness and self-assessment and improve their coping repertoire. The intervention was trialled alongside controls and results demonstrate that further work needs to be done to embed stress resilience into the student life cycle. The project reaffirms the need for concern over student wellbeing and highlights areas for improvement. Given students in this study may be considered ‘engaged', results bring to light a population, previously thought to be ‘low risk', but who could benefit from additional support to prevent unnecessary underachievement or attrition.
Supervisor: Casey, S. Campbell Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Stress ; retention ; Higher Education ; student withdrawal ; support services ; 378 Higher education ; LB2300 Higher Education ; Education