Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Perceived Stress among International Postgraduate Students in Malaysia

Academic journal article International Journal of Psychological Studies

Perceived Stress among International Postgraduate Students in Malaysia

Article excerpt

Abstract

Stress is an increasingly dilapidating factor among most individuals. Therefore the aim of this study is to identify the relationship between age, gender and perceived stress among international postgraduate students in Malaysia. Using a web administered survey, 222 respondents were selected via stratified random sampling technique. Perceived stress scale (Cohen et al., 1983) was used to measure stress. Frequencies, percentages, mean score and Chi-square was used to highlight the findings of the study. Results of the research revealed high stress levels of about 40% among the respondents. More so, the findings indicated no significant relationship between age, gender and perceived stress (p > .05). Later studies may consider other demographic variables as possible significant correlates of perceived stress, given the findings of the present study.

Keywords: stress, age, gender, students, web

1. Introduction

Severely stressful life event has been reported as the precipitative factor in numerous health challenges. Stress maybe defined as the negative evaluation of a condition as threatening (Lazarus, 1966), this is usually occasioned by the incapability of the person concerned in coping with a situation (Lazarus, 1993; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Available evidence based on recent research suggests that a substantial level of stress is important in academic performance (Sahranavard, Hassan, Elias, & Abdullah, 2012). In this regard existing proof indicates that many students pursuing their academic career in different countries across the globe experience varying degrees of stress. Students particularly face additional pressure in their adjustment to a new environment. For those studying abroad, many issues may positively or negatively alter their life course.

The present problem is important because most studies in Malaysia have relatively ignored the stressful situation experienced by international post-graduate students studying in the country and most importantly the contribution of age and gender in the preponderance of stress. This study therefore aims to resolve some of the inconsistencies in the results of the past studies discovered in the literatures. The challenge of seeking support and acceptance in a foreign country entails stress, anxiety and fear, given that traditional source of support such as the family and friends are absent. International postgraduate students studying in Malaysia are not an exception to this phenomenon. They face a variety of challenges in their sojourn to the country. Many of them experience a range of personal, cultural and educational adjustments (Lacina, 2002; Hyun et al., 2007; Mahmud et al., 2010). The prevailing challenges and issues they face include homesickness, loneliness, need to develop a new peer relationship, independence, adaptation to a new culture, food, climate and language barrier (Mahmud, Amat, Rahman, & Ishak, 2010).

Although studying abroad provides students a feasible and valuable opportunity to travel, make new friends, and learn a new language/culture. Studies suggest that international postgraduate students' needs and success in the academic environment are usually prone to stress and thus cannot be ignored (Abe, Talbot, & Geelhoed, 1998; Hyun, Quinn, Madon, & Lustig, 2007; Lacina, 2002). In addition, some scholars allege the influence of age and gender on the stress levels of international postgraduate students. In the contention of Dearing and Twaragowski (2010), the association between age and mental health is neither extensively investigated nor fully understood. The scholars argued that previous studies on the relationship between age and stress remain contradictory. In a study by Rabinowitz et al. (1999), old age was related to the greater perceived need for mental health services. Remor (2006) however found decreases in stress as age increases, and that women between 30 and 34 years had a higher frequency of moderate stress than men of the same age group. …

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