Whether Family and Gender Matters in Manifestation of Life Stress among Professional Postgraduate Students?
Gangadhar B. Sonar
The paper is an attempt to see whether the variables family and gender have anything to do with manifestation of life stress among the professional postgraduate students. It explores the manifestation of stress in the areas of personal, familial, economic, academic and social. The level of stress has been measured using a seven point Likert scale measuring life stress from no stress to the stress of unbearable extent. It is found that students have life stress of various levels. Personal, family, social, economic and academic aspects have a bearing on developing life stress. The variables family and gender have significant difference with select variables in developing life stress. It is suggested that the student mentoring system and stress prevention, intervention need to be introduced in order to help students to cope up successfully.
Key Words: Life Stress, Family, Gender, Professional Postgraduate students.
Stress is a complex phenomenon. It involves the process of interaction between a person and the environment (Cox and others, 2000). There is an association between the individual perceptions and the working environment of the organization. Arroba and James (1987) define stress as the response to an inappropriate level of pressure. It is not pressure itself. The manifestation of stress triggers psychological, behavioural and physical issues and result in increased dissatisfaction and anxiety. Finally, it may produce a variety of illnesses. According to Moss and Lawrence (1997) stress is the manifestation of the socio-cultural phenomenon. It results in higher levels of self-reported stress due to the proliferation of information about stress in the popular culture. Hence, stress is a multidimensional phenomenon. The family environment and gender orientation contribute immensely in the manifestation of life stress among postgraduate students (Sonar, 2018).
Stress is the result of an individual’s perception that they do not have the resources to cope with a perceived situation from the past, present or future (Lazarus and others, 1984). Life stress among the professional course students has been receiving significant attention after the process of globalization, liberalization and privatization and increased competition in the global job market. Social Science scholars conduct research like theoretical, empirical and applied have been devoted to study the issue of life stress among the students of professional courses (Sophia and others, 2004).
David (2008) explores that there is no substantial research on student’s stress to give a holistic explanation. The sources of stress for students are; to adjust to a new social environment; to maintain high academic standards; and to find employment opportunity soon after education (Ross and others, 1999). There are fifteen types of stresses identified among students in the University life. Many of the stresses are related examination; meeting class assignments; and teaching process related (Arie, 1986).
Jenny (1986) measures the stress among 318 medical students using a general health questionnaire in three British universities. The estimated prevalence of emotional disturbance was 31.2%, a proportion similar to that of medical students in the United States. There was no significant difference between the mean scores of stress between the sexes. The recent stressful events experienced were talking to patients with mental illness; effects on personal life; presenting cases; and dealing with death and suffering. Students are supposed to develop new roles and modify old ones in order to meet the prospective challenges may encounter in the professional life (Humphrey and McCarthy, 1998).
Roembke (1995) reveals that professional social work students face stress throughout their student life. The levels of stress experienced during academics, are likely to continue with their professional life. Hence, training on handling stress helps them to prevent burnout. Stress is prevalent in the helping professions like social work, medical, nursing and etc. The high level of stress is found in the newly entered professionals when compared to the experienced. Similarly, Stewart and others (2010) explore that social work students experienced problems with low self-esteem and emotional exhaustion. The appraisal of literature reveals that there is a paucity of data on the issues of life stress among professional postgraduate students. In view of this study has been conducted with the following objectives;
To satisfy the objectives of the study, it was adopted descriptive research design. The subjects of study are (56) professional postgraduate students studying in second semester. A seven points Likert scale was administered to measure the life stress. It was adopted observation, informal interview, questionnaire and case study techniques. The data collected was subjected to processing. It was keyed into the computer in the software of SPSS to get the Uni-variate and Bi-variate tables, mean, and percentage values. The proportions have been used to analyse the data. Selected case studies are illustrated for better understanding of life stress situations.
Findings and Discussion:
Personal background of the professional postgraduate students explored to have preliminary understanding. Out of 56, a majority of them more than three-fifth are males (62.5 percent); more than one-fourth has entered the course above 24 years with a break in education (26.8). The mean age of the group is 22.87. About three-fourth of them hails from rural areas (75.0 percent); slightly less proportion belonging to nuclear families (69.6 percent); more than three-fifth are from low economic class (60.7 percent); same proportion has agriculture as primary source of family income; more than four-fifth have studied in Kannada medium up to post graduation (83.9 percent); half of them are presently living in hostel (50.0 percent); and more than half are belonging to the category of Other Caste (53.6 percent).
The table-1 reveals the personal areas of life stress of professional postgraduate students. The areas focused are; diminished physical beauty; feel inferior compared to others; relation with friend got strained; aspirations of life remained unfulfilled; and passed the examination with poor marks. A majority proportion students more than three-fifth developed stress as they got separated from dear one. Less than three-fifth students are stressed as their life aspiration remains unfulfilled. More than half students stressed as they scored less marks when compared to others. A good proportion students are stressed as their relation with friend got strained. More than one-fourth experience stress worrying about personal appearance. More than one-fifth of students experience stress due to inferiority complex. It is to be noted that a significant proportion more than two-fifth students have developed stress to an unbearable extent as their life aspirations remain unfulfilled. It is true in the case of Ramya (name changed) 22, who is an orphan always found to have stress and disturbed. She was in love with a boyfriend, belonging to some other caste. She is afraid of her maternal uncle as he may not permit her to marry a person of her choice. She is not able to concentrate on studies and frequently bunk the classes. Often get differences with boyfriend and get disturbed abundantly. These personal factors made her to develop stress significantly.
The table-2 reveals the family aspects of life stress of professional postgraduate students. The aspects studied are; parents favoured siblings; scolded/beaten by parents; parents did not trust; family members frequently suffer from illness; family environment got tensed; and family environment interferes in studies. A majority proportion students less than three-fifth experience stress as their parents did not trust them. More than half students, developed stress due to interference of family issues in studies; slightly less proportion students, developed stress due to the tensed environment in the family. A better proportion more than three-tenth students get stressed as family members frequently suffered from illness; slightly less proportion students developed stress as their parents scolded/beaten. It is to be noted that a significant proportion one-fourth students have developed unbearable stress as their parents did not trust them. It is true in case of Sunita (name changed) 23, whose father is an employee and mother is suffering from brain cancer. Who developed problem with eye sight recently. It is difficult for her to perform household chores. There is no one else at home except Sunita to assist her mother with household chores. Now, Sunita is very much stressed due to ill health of her mother and find it difficult to concentrate on studies.
The table-3 reveals the social aspects of life stress of professional postgraduate students. The aspects focused are; decrease in outings and meeting people; relationship with the teacher/warden deteriorated; differences with friends/neighbours; people behave indifferently and misunderstand; and surrounding environment interferes in studies. A majority proportion students less than three-fifth experience stress as people misunderstood them. Slightly less students, developed stress due to the interference of the neighbouring environment in their studies; Good proportion more than two-fifth students, developed stress as their relationship with the teacher/warden got deteriorated. Slightly less students experience stress as people behave indifferently towards them. A significant proportion more than one-fifth get stressed due to serious differences with friends/neighbour; slightly less proportion students stressed as they reduced going out and meeting people. It is to be noted that a significant proportion more than one-tenth students have developed unbearable stress as they are misunderstood by others. It is true in the case of Kamala (name changed) 26, who is a widow. After death of her husband due to HIV AIDS, she decided to take up post graduation. She was hesitant to mix in the group. The fact of her husband’s cause of death was not a secret. Her classmates, people at hostel and other places behaved indifferent towards her. This made her to be more stressed.
The table-4 reveals the economic aspects of life stress of professional postgraduate students. The aspects studied are; loss of personal valuable possession; decrease in family income drastically; and major financial trouble. A majority proportion students less than three-fifth have developed stress due to the financial crisis; Slightly less proportion students are stressed as they lost valuable possession; and more than half students experience stress due to a sudden decrease in the family income. It is to be noted that a significant proportion students have developed unbearable stress due to loss of personal valuable possession and major financial crisis. It is true in the case of Rashmi (name changed) 24, who hails from single parent family. Her mother is working as labour in agricultural field. They do not have any other source of income. Rashmi is always worried about her mother. She is hesitant to ask for money even to pay University fees. If an opportunity is given, she wants to take up a part time job to meet the economic burden. Since the income of the family is less than expenditure, she is stressed due to the increasing economic burden.
The table-5 reveals the academic aspects of life stress of professional postgraduate students. The aspects explored are; teacher scolded; difficult to follow lectures; had to choose a subject of non-interest; examinations postponed; syllabus was not completed; and do not get sufficient time to study. A majority proportion students more than three-fifth have developed stress as course was not completed; Slightly less proportion have developed stress as they did not get sufficient time to study; A good proportion more than half students developed stress when the examinations are postponed; A significant proportion more than two-fifth became stressed as they had to choose an open elective course subject of non-interest; slightly less students, developed stress as their teacher scolded; A significant proportion more than one-fifth students, developed stress as they could not follow the lectures. It is to be noted that a significant proportion student more than one-tenth have developed unbearable stress as they were scolded by the teacher and unable to get sufficient time to study. It may be true in the case of Pandu (name changed) 24, who find it very stressful to go to field work agency independently. He joined the classes late. Hence, he could not be placed with any group in the field work. He had to go alone, but he was so much disturbed. He did not attend any of the individual conferences. At the end of the semester, when a faculty supervisor appraised him about field work, he reported that he did not go as scared to go field work alone. It was unbearable stressful to him.
When it is compared between the family and the life stress areas of personal, familial, economical, social and academic, it is found that students belonging to nuclear family experience unbearable stress in all the select areas when compared to the students belonging to joint family. Further, when it is compared between gender and the life stress areas of personal, familial, economical, social and academic, it is found that female students experience unbearable stress in all the select areas when compared to the male students.
Conclusion and Suggestions:
An attempt has been made to explore the life stress among professional postgraduate students with reference to personal, familial, economic, social and academic areas in comparison to family and gender. In the post globalised society, there has been increasing competition on the one hand and more expectations of competencies by the multinational organizations. When professional postgraduate students experience stress, their family members have a vital role in their coping. Students from poor socio-economic background find it difficult to cope up with expectations of higher education in order to survive in the global job market. The family system is dwindling due to a myriad of reasons. There has been increasing individualism and materialistic approach in society at large. Students hardly get supportive relationship either in the family or in the academics to ventilate their worries. The patriarchal society further triggers the female students. As a result of it, they encounter challenging situations caused by personal, familial, social, economic and academic spectrum. The variables family and gender have a great deal in the manifestation of life stress. Thus result in increased stress that further effect on their academic achievement. In view of this, following suggestions are made to address the issues of stress among professional postgraduate students;
Gangadhar B. Sonar
Assistant Professor and Local Head, Department of Studies and Research in Social Work, Rani Channamma University, P. G. Centre, Vijayapura
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