Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Academic Stress and Coping Strategies among Students with Disabilities in Addis Ababa University

Academic journal article Eastern Africa Social Science Research Review

Academic Stress and Coping Strategies among Students with Disabilities in Addis Ababa University

Article excerpt

1. INTRODUCTION

A transition from least to most responsibility, dependence to independence, control to freedom, a new student life in a university places unprecedented demands on a youngster. The challenges awaiting students in universities are multiple and multifaceted. And these have the potency to emerge sources of stress for them. When stress is caused by different academicrelated factors, such as scholarship requirements, financial burdens, competition in class, course-related factors and family-related pressures (Cheng, Leong and Geist 1993), they are referred to by a generic term, academic stress. To put it straighter, academic stress can be conceived as the psychological or physiological responses of university students to physically or psychologically challenging events or circumstances (stressors) associated with their academic life. Some academic stress is normal for all college students, because of the stress that comes from being exposed to new educational concepts, adjusting to new social settings, and taking on the larger workload (DeDeyn 2008).

Rodriguez (2009) identified six basic causes of academic stress, which appear quite relevant to Ethiopian context. They are money, academic progress, thinking about the future, responsibility, peer pressure and family. The high cost of everything out of home and shortage of money and money handling skills may cause stress. Academic progress causes stress for most college students because they may not know what to expect when starting college, and they may approach their university or college academics as just another year of high school. But, when the reality hits and they realize that college is much more difficult than their senior years in schools, academic progress becomes a strong stressor for students. Chemers, Litze and Garcia (2001) reported that 50 per cent of college students change their major area of study at least once and some students change two or three times during their college years. This uncertainty about career and prospects for the future causes students additional stress. They further argued that the surge of new responsibility weighed heavily on the shoulders of college students, resulting in stress. University students face plenty of peer pressure while striving for their degree. Parties, drugs and alcohol are just a few of the things students can be pressured into and that can cause stress while students struggle between doing what is right and trying to fit in with the crowd (Spencer 2009). Kamarudin, Aris and Ibrahim (2009) observed that many college students felt obliged to please their parents and some might get stressed out when their grades are not up to the parents' expectation. Elaborating on the probable stressors of university students, Libby (1987) listed nine major sources of stress which are universally relevant. They are instruction, competition, organisation of time, adjustment to college, administrative problems, social adjustment, finances, housing and transportation.

Though studies abound on various aspects of academic stress and their impacts on university students (e.g., Edwards et al. 2001; Misra et al. 2000; Zaleski, Levey-Thors and Schiaffino 1999), specific inquiries into the causes, courses, consequences and cures of academic stress among students with disabilities (SWDs) are too scanty. Ethiopia remains quite underrepresented in academic stress related inquiries. Academic stress specific to SWDs has not captured the attention of disability scholars and researchers of the Country though their psychosocial and educational profiles were outlined (see Tirussew 1994). Hence, drawing a theoretical model or conceptual framework on the academic stress of SWDs to direct this investigation was not in light. This led to the development of a three-dimensional conceptual model on the academic stress experienced by SWDs as the theoretical framework of this inquiry. Though this conceptualization is a novel one, available knowledge on the sources of stress of students with and without disabilities was pooled in from literature to give shape to the model. …

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