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Denise Pope

Education scholar Denise Pope has found that too much homework has negative effects on student well-being and behavioral engagement. (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

A Stanford researcher found that too much homework can negatively affect kids, especially their lives away from school, where family, friends and activities matter.

“Our findings on the effects of homework challenge the traditional assumption that homework is inherently good,” wrote Denise Pope , a senior lecturer at the Stanford Graduate School of Education and a co-author of a study published in the Journal of Experimental Education .

The researchers used survey data to examine perceptions about homework, student well-being and behavioral engagement in a sample of 4,317 students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities. Along with the survey data, Pope and her colleagues used open-ended answers to explore the students’ views on homework.

Median household income exceeded $90,000 in these communities, and 93 percent of the students went on to college, either two-year or four-year.

Students in these schools average about 3.1 hours of homework each night.

“The findings address how current homework practices in privileged, high-performing schools sustain students’ advantage in competitive climates yet hinder learning, full engagement and well-being,” Pope wrote.

Pope and her colleagues found that too much homework can diminish its effectiveness and even be counterproductive. They cite prior research indicating that homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night, and that 90 minutes to two and a half hours is optimal for high school.

Their study found that too much homework is associated with:

* Greater stress: 56 percent of the students considered homework a primary source of stress, according to the survey data. Forty-three percent viewed tests as a primary stressor, while 33 percent put the pressure to get good grades in that category. Less than 1 percent of the students said homework was not a stressor.

* Reductions in health: In their open-ended answers, many students said their homework load led to sleep deprivation and other health problems. The researchers asked students whether they experienced health issues such as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss and stomach problems.

* Less time for friends, family and extracurricular pursuits: Both the survey data and student responses indicate that spending too much time on homework meant that students were “not meeting their developmental needs or cultivating other critical life skills,” according to the researchers. Students were more likely to drop activities, not see friends or family, and not pursue hobbies they enjoy.

A balancing act

The results offer empirical evidence that many students struggle to find balance between homework, extracurricular activities and social time, the researchers said. Many students felt forced or obligated to choose homework over developing other talents or skills.

Also, there was no relationship between the time spent on homework and how much the student enjoyed it. The research quoted students as saying they often do homework they see as “pointless” or “mindless” in order to keep their grades up.

“This kind of busy work, by its very nature, discourages learning and instead promotes doing homework simply to get points,” Pope said.

She said the research calls into question the value of assigning large amounts of homework in high-performing schools. Homework should not be simply assigned as a routine practice, she said.

“Rather, any homework assigned should have a purpose and benefit, and it should be designed to cultivate learning and development,” wrote Pope.

High-performing paradox

In places where students attend high-performing schools, too much homework can reduce their time to foster skills in the area of personal responsibility, the researchers concluded. “Young people are spending more time alone,” they wrote, “which means less time for family and fewer opportunities to engage in their communities.”

Student perspectives

The researchers say that while their open-ended or “self-reporting” methodology to gauge student concerns about homework may have limitations – some might regard it as an opportunity for “typical adolescent complaining” – it was important to learn firsthand what the students believe.

The paper was co-authored by Mollie Galloway from Lewis and Clark College and Jerusha Conner from Villanova University.

Media Contacts

Denise Pope, Stanford Graduate School of Education: (650) 725-7412, [email protected] Clifton B. Parker, Stanford News Service: (650) 725-0224, [email protected]

Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

A conversation with a Wheelock researcher, a BU student, and a fourth-grade teacher

child doing homework

“Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives,” says Wheelock’s Janine Bempechat. “It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.” Photo by iStock/Glenn Cook Photography

Do your homework.

If only it were that simple.

Educators have debated the merits of homework since the late 19th century. In recent years, amid concerns of some parents and teachers that children are being stressed out by too much homework, things have only gotten more fraught.

“Homework is complicated,” says developmental psychologist Janine Bempechat, a Wheelock College of Education & Human Development clinical professor. The author of the essay “ The Case for (Quality) Homework—Why It Improves Learning and How Parents Can Help ” in the winter 2019 issue of Education Next , Bempechat has studied how the debate about homework is influencing teacher preparation, parent and student beliefs about learning, and school policies.

She worries especially about socioeconomically disadvantaged students from low-performing schools who, according to research by Bempechat and others, get little or no homework.

BU Today  sat down with Bempechat and Erin Bruce (Wheelock’17,’18), a new fourth-grade teacher at a suburban Boston school, and future teacher freshman Emma Ardizzone (Wheelock) to talk about what quality homework looks like, how it can help children learn, and how schools can equip teachers to design it, evaluate it, and facilitate parents’ role in it.

BU Today: Parents and educators who are against homework in elementary school say there is no research definitively linking it to academic performance for kids in the early grades. You’ve said that they’re missing the point.

Bempechat : I think teachers assign homework in elementary school as a way to help kids develop skills they’ll need when they’re older—to begin to instill a sense of responsibility and to learn planning and organizational skills. That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success. If we greatly reduce or eliminate homework in elementary school, we deprive kids and parents of opportunities to instill these important learning habits and skills.

We do know that beginning in late middle school, and continuing through high school, there is a strong and positive correlation between homework completion and academic success.

That’s what I think is the greatest value of homework—in cultivating beliefs about learning and skills associated with academic success.

You talk about the importance of quality homework. What is that?

Quality homework is engaging and relevant to kids’ lives. It gives them autonomy and engages them in the community and with their families. In some subjects, like math, worksheets can be very helpful. It has to do with the value of practicing over and over.

Janine Bempechat

What are your concerns about homework and low-income children?

The argument that some people make—that homework “punishes the poor” because lower-income parents may not be as well-equipped as affluent parents to help their children with homework—is very troubling to me. There are no parents who don’t care about their children’s learning. Parents don’t actually have to help with homework completion in order for kids to do well. They can help in other ways—by helping children organize a study space, providing snacks, being there as a support, helping children work in groups with siblings or friends.

Isn’t the discussion about getting rid of homework happening mostly in affluent communities?

Yes, and the stories we hear of kids being stressed out from too much homework—four or five hours of homework a night—are real. That’s problematic for physical and mental health and overall well-being. But the research shows that higher-income students get a lot more homework than lower-income kids.

Teachers may not have as high expectations for lower-income children. Schools should bear responsibility for providing supports for kids to be able to get their homework done—after-school clubs, community support, peer group support. It does kids a disservice when our expectations are lower for them.

The conversation around homework is to some extent a social class and social justice issue. If we eliminate homework for all children because affluent children have too much, we’re really doing a disservice to low-income children. They need the challenge, and every student can rise to the challenge with enough supports in place.

What did you learn by studying how education schools are preparing future teachers to handle homework?

My colleague, Margarita Jimenez-Silva, at the University of California, Davis, School of Education, and I interviewed faculty members at education schools, as well as supervising teachers, to find out how students are being prepared. And it seemed that they weren’t. There didn’t seem to be any readings on the research, or conversations on what high-quality homework is and how to design it.

Erin, what kind of training did you get in handling homework?

Bruce : I had phenomenal professors at Wheelock, but homework just didn’t come up. I did lots of student teaching. I’ve been in classrooms where the teachers didn’t assign any homework, and I’ve been in rooms where they assigned hours of homework a night. But I never even considered homework as something that was my decision. I just thought it was something I’d pull out of a book and it’d be done.

I started giving homework on the first night of school this year. My first assignment was to go home and draw a picture of the room where you do your homework. I want to know if it’s at a table and if there are chairs around it and if mom’s cooking dinner while you’re doing homework.

The second night I asked them to talk to a grown-up about how are you going to be able to get your homework done during the week. The kids really enjoyed it. There’s a running joke that I’m teaching life skills.

Friday nights, I read all my kids’ responses to me on their homework from the week and it’s wonderful. They pour their hearts out. It’s like we’re having a conversation on my couch Friday night.

It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Bempechat : I can’t imagine that most new teachers would have the intuition Erin had in designing homework the way she did.

Ardizzone : Conversations with kids about homework, feeling you’re being listened to—that’s such a big part of wanting to do homework….I grew up in Westchester County. It was a pretty demanding school district. My junior year English teacher—I loved her—she would give us feedback, have meetings with all of us. She’d say, “If you have any questions, if you have anything you want to talk about, you can talk to me, here are my office hours.” It felt like she actually cared.

Bempechat : It matters to know that the teacher cares about you and that what you think matters to the teacher. Homework is a vehicle to connect home and school…for parents to know teachers are welcoming to them and their families.

Ardizzone : But can’t it lead to parents being overbearing and too involved in their children’s lives as students?

Bempechat : There’s good help and there’s bad help. The bad help is what you’re describing—when parents hover inappropriately, when they micromanage, when they see their children confused and struggling and tell them what to do.

Good help is when parents recognize there’s a struggle going on and instead ask informative questions: “Where do you think you went wrong?” They give hints, or pointers, rather than saying, “You missed this,” or “You didn’t read that.”

Bruce : I hope something comes of this. I hope BU or Wheelock can think of some way to make this a more pressing issue. As a first-year teacher, it was not something I even thought about on the first day of school—until a kid raised his hand and said, “Do we have homework?” It would have been wonderful if I’d had a plan from day one.

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Senior Contributing Editor

Sara Rimer

Sara Rimer A journalist for more than three decades, Sara Rimer worked at the Miami Herald , Washington Post and, for 26 years, the New York Times , where she was the New England bureau chief, and a national reporter covering education, aging, immigration, and other social justice issues. Her stories on the death penalty’s inequities were nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision outlawing the execution of people with intellectual disabilities. Her journalism honors include Columbia University’s Meyer Berger award for in-depth human interest reporting. She holds a BA degree in American Studies from the University of Michigan. Profile

She can be reached at [email protected] .

Comments & Discussion

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There are 81 comments on Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

Insightful! The values about homework in elementary schools are well aligned with my intuition as a parent.

when i finish my work i do my homework and i sometimes forget what to do because i did not get enough sleep

same omg it does not help me it is stressful and if I have it in more than one class I hate it.

Same I think my parent wants to help me but, she doesn’t care if I get bad grades so I just try my best and my grades are great.

I think that last question about Good help from parents is not know to all parents, we do as our parents did or how we best think it can be done, so maybe coaching parents or giving them resources on how to help with homework would be very beneficial for the parent on how to help and for the teacher to have consistency and improve homework results, and of course for the child. I do see how homework helps reaffirm the knowledge obtained in the classroom, I also have the ability to see progress and it is a time I share with my kids

The answer to the headline question is a no-brainer – a more pressing problem is why there is a difference in how students from different cultures succeed. Perfect example is the student population at BU – why is there a majority population of Asian students and only about 3% black students at BU? In fact at some universities there are law suits by Asians to stop discrimination and quotas against admitting Asian students because the real truth is that as a group they are demonstrating better qualifications for admittance, while at the same time there are quotas and reduced requirements for black students to boost their portion of the student population because as a group they do more poorly in meeting admissions standards – and it is not about the Benjamins. The real problem is that in our PC society no one has the gazuntas to explore this issue as it may reveal that all people are not created equal after all. Or is it just environmental cultural differences??????

I get you have a concern about the issue but that is not even what the point of this article is about. If you have an issue please take this to the site we have and only post your opinion about the actual topic

This is not at all what the article is talking about.

This literally has nothing to do with the article brought up. You should really take your opinions somewhere else before you speak about something that doesn’t make sense.

we have the same name

so they have the same name what of it?

lol you tell her

totally agree

What does that have to do with homework, that is not what the article talks about AT ALL.

Yes, I think homework plays an important role in the development of student life. Through homework, students have to face challenges on a daily basis and they try to solve them quickly.I am an intense online tutor at 24x7homeworkhelp and I give homework to my students at that level in which they handle it easily.

More than two-thirds of students said they used alcohol and drugs, primarily marijuana, to cope with stress.

You know what’s funny? I got this assignment to write an argument for homework about homework and this article was really helpful and understandable, and I also agree with this article’s point of view.

I also got the same task as you! I was looking for some good resources and I found this! I really found this article useful and easy to understand, just like you! ^^

i think that homework is the best thing that a child can have on the school because it help them with their thinking and memory.

I am a child myself and i think homework is a terrific pass time because i can’t play video games during the week. It also helps me set goals.

Homework is not harmful ,but it will if there is too much

I feel like, from a minors point of view that we shouldn’t get homework. Not only is the homework stressful, but it takes us away from relaxing and being social. For example, me and my friends was supposed to hang at the mall last week but we had to postpone it since we all had some sort of work to do. Our minds shouldn’t be focused on finishing an assignment that in realty, doesn’t matter. I completely understand that we should have homework. I have to write a paper on the unimportance of homework so thanks.

homework isn’t that bad

Are you a student? if not then i don’t really think you know how much and how severe todays homework really is

i am a student and i do not enjoy homework because i practice my sport 4 out of the five days we have school for 4 hours and that’s not even counting the commute time or the fact i still have to shower and eat dinner when i get home. its draining!

i totally agree with you. these people are such boomers

why just why

they do make a really good point, i think that there should be a limit though. hours and hours of homework can be really stressful, and the extra work isn’t making a difference to our learning, but i do believe homework should be optional and extra credit. that would make it for students to not have the leaning stress of a assignment and if you have a low grade you you can catch up.

Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. Research published in the High School Journal indicates that students who spent between 31 and 90 minutes each day on homework “scored about 40 points higher on the SAT-Mathematics subtest than their peers, who reported spending no time on homework each day, on average.” On both standardized tests and grades, students in classes that were assigned homework outperformed 69% of students who didn’t have homework. A majority of studies on homework’s impact – 64% in one meta-study and 72% in another – showed that take home assignments were effective at improving academic achievement. Research by the Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) concluded that increased homework led to better GPAs and higher probability of college attendance for high school boys. In fact, boys who attended college did more than three hours of additional homework per week in high school.

So how are your measuring student achievement? That’s the real question. The argument that doing homework is simply a tool for teaching responsibility isn’t enough for me. We can teach responsibility in a number of ways. Also the poor argument that parents don’t need to help with homework, and that students can do it on their own, is wishful thinking at best. It completely ignores neurodiverse students. Students in poverty aren’t magically going to find a space to do homework, a friend’s or siblings to help them do it, and snacks to eat. I feel like the author of this piece has never set foot in a classroom of students.

THIS. This article is pathetic coming from a university. So intellectually dishonest, refusing to address the havoc of capitalism and poverty plays on academic success in life. How can they in one sentence use poor kids in an argument and never once address that poor children have access to damn near 0 of the resources affluent kids have? Draw me a picture and let’s talk about feelings lmao what a joke is that gonna put food in their belly so they can have the calories to burn in order to use their brain to study? What about quiet their 7 other siblings that they share a single bedroom with for hours? Is it gonna force the single mom to magically be at home and at work at the same time to cook food while you study and be there to throw an encouraging word?

Also the “parents don’t need to be a parent and be able to guide their kid at all academically they just need to exist in the next room” is wild. Its one thing if a parent straight up is not equipped but to say kids can just figured it out is…. wow coming from an educator What’s next the teacher doesn’t need to teach cause the kid can just follow the packet and figure it out?

Well then get a tutor right? Oh wait you are poor only affluent kids can afford a tutor for their hours of homework a day were they on average have none of the worries a poor child does. Does this address that poor children are more likely to also suffer abuse and mental illness? Like mentioned what about kids that can’t learn or comprehend the forced standardized way? Just let em fail? These children regularly are not in “special education”(some of those are a joke in their own and full of neglect and abuse) programs cause most aren’t even acknowledged as having disabilities or disorders.

But yes all and all those pesky poor kids just aren’t being worked hard enough lol pretty sure poor children’s existence just in childhood is more work, stress, and responsibility alone than an affluent child’s entire life cycle. Love they never once talked about the quality of education in the classroom being so bad between the poor and affluent it can qualify as segregation, just basically blamed poor people for being lazy, good job capitalism for failing us once again!

why the hell?

you should feel bad for saying this, this article can be helpful for people who has to write a essay about it

This is more of a political rant than it is about homework

I know a teacher who has told his students their homework is to find something they are interested in, pursue it and then come share what they learn. The student responses are quite compelling. One girl taught herself German so she could talk to her grandfather. One boy did a research project on Nelson Mandela because the teacher had mentioned him in class. Another boy, a both on the autism spectrum, fixed his family’s computer. The list goes on. This is fourth grade. I think students are highly motivated to learn, when we step aside and encourage them.

The whole point of homework is to give the students a chance to use the material that they have been presented with in class. If they never have the opportunity to use that information, and discover that it is actually useful, it will be in one ear and out the other. As a science teacher, it is critical that the students are challenged to use the material they have been presented with, which gives them the opportunity to actually think about it rather than regurgitate “facts”. Well designed homework forces the student to think conceptually, as opposed to regurgitation, which is never a pretty sight

Wonderful discussion. and yes, homework helps in learning and building skills in students.

not true it just causes kids to stress

Homework can be both beneficial and unuseful, if you will. There are students who are gifted in all subjects in school and ones with disabilities. Why should the students who are gifted get the lucky break, whereas the people who have disabilities suffer? The people who were born with this “gift” go through school with ease whereas people with disabilities struggle with the work given to them. I speak from experience because I am one of those students: the ones with disabilities. Homework doesn’t benefit “us”, it only tears us down and put us in an abyss of confusion and stress and hopelessness because we can’t learn as fast as others. Or we can’t handle the amount of work given whereas the gifted students go through it with ease. It just brings us down and makes us feel lost; because no mater what, it feels like we are destined to fail. It feels like we weren’t “cut out” for success.

homework does help

here is the thing though, if a child is shoved in the face with a whole ton of homework that isn’t really even considered homework it is assignments, it’s not helpful. the teacher should make homework more of a fun learning experience rather than something that is dreaded

This article was wonderful, I am going to ask my teachers about extra, or at all giving homework.

I agree. Especially when you have homework before an exam. Which is distasteful as you’ll need that time to study. It doesn’t make any sense, nor does us doing homework really matters as It’s just facts thrown at us.

Homework is too severe and is just too much for students, schools need to decrease the amount of homework. When teachers assign homework they forget that the students have other classes that give them the same amount of homework each day. Students need to work on social skills and life skills.

I disagree.

Beyond achievement, proponents of homework argue that it can have many other beneficial effects. They claim it can help students develop good study habits so they are ready to grow as their cognitive capacities mature. It can help students recognize that learning can occur at home as well as at school. Homework can foster independent learning and responsible character traits. And it can give parents an opportunity to see what’s going on at school and let them express positive attitudes toward achievement.

Homework is helpful because homework helps us by teaching us how to learn a specific topic.

As a student myself, I can say that I have almost never gotten the full 9 hours of recommended sleep time, because of homework. (Now I’m writing an essay on it in the middle of the night D=)

I am a 10 year old kid doing a report about “Is homework good or bad” for homework before i was going to do homework is bad but the sources from this site changed my mind!

Homeowkr is god for stusenrs

I agree with hunter because homework can be so stressful especially with this whole covid thing no one has time for homework and every one just wants to get back to there normal lives it is especially stressful when you go on a 2 week vaca 3 weeks into the new school year and and then less then a week after you come back from the vaca you are out for over a month because of covid and you have no way to get the assignment done and turned in

As great as homework is said to be in the is article, I feel like the viewpoint of the students was left out. Every where I go on the internet researching about this topic it almost always has interviews from teachers, professors, and the like. However isn’t that a little biased? Of course teachers are going to be for homework, they’re not the ones that have to stay up past midnight completing the homework from not just one class, but all of them. I just feel like this site is one-sided and you should include what the students of today think of spending four hours every night completing 6-8 classes worth of work.

Are we talking about homework or practice? Those are two very different things and can result in different outcomes.

Homework is a graded assignment. I do not know of research showing the benefits of graded assignments going home.

Practice; however, can be extremely beneficial, especially if there is some sort of feedback (not a grade but feedback). That feedback can come from the teacher, another student or even an automated grading program.

As a former band director, I assigned daily practice. I never once thought it would be appropriate for me to require the students to turn in a recording of their practice for me to grade. Instead, I had in-class assignments/assessments that were graded and directly related to the practice assigned.

I would really like to read articles on “homework” that truly distinguish between the two.

oof i feel bad good luck!

thank you guys for the artical because I have to finish an assingment. yes i did cite it but just thanks

thx for the article guys.

Homework is good

I think homework is helpful AND harmful. Sometimes u can’t get sleep bc of homework but it helps u practice for school too so idk.

I agree with this Article. And does anyone know when this was published. I would like to know.

It was published FEb 19, 2019.

Studies have shown that homework improved student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college.

i think homework can help kids but at the same time not help kids

This article is so out of touch with majority of homes it would be laughable if it wasn’t so incredibly sad.

There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950’s fantasy.

What lala land do these teachers live in?

Homework gives noting to the kid

Homework is Bad

homework is bad.

why do kids even have homework?

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Does homework really work?

by: Leslie Crawford | Updated: December 12, 2023

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Does homework help

You know the drill. It’s 10:15 p.m., and the cardboard-and-toothpick Golden Gate Bridge is collapsing. The pages of polynomials have been abandoned. The paper on the Battle of Waterloo seems to have frozen in time with Napoleon lingering eternally over his breakfast at Le Caillou. Then come the tears and tantrums — while we parents wonder, Does the gain merit all this pain? Is this just too much homework?

However the drama unfolds night after night, year after year, most parents hold on to the hope that homework (after soccer games, dinner, flute practice, and, oh yes, that childhood pastime of yore known as playing) advances their children academically.

But what does homework really do for kids? Is the forest’s worth of book reports and math and spelling sheets the average American student completes in their 12 years of primary schooling making a difference? Or is it just busywork?

Homework haterz

Whether or not homework helps, or even hurts, depends on who you ask. If you ask my 12-year-old son, Sam, he’ll say, “Homework doesn’t help anything. It makes kids stressed-out and tired and makes them hate school more.”

Nothing more than common kid bellyaching?

Maybe, but in the fractious field of homework studies, it’s worth noting that Sam’s sentiments nicely synopsize one side of the ivory tower debate. Books like The End of Homework , The Homework Myth , and The Case Against Homework the film Race to Nowhere , and the anguished parent essay “ My Daughter’s Homework is Killing Me ” make the case that homework, by taking away precious family time and putting kids under unneeded pressure, is an ineffective way to help children become better learners and thinkers.

One Canadian couple took their homework apostasy all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. After arguing that there was no evidence that it improved academic performance, they won a ruling that exempted their two children from all homework.

So what’s the real relationship between homework and academic achievement?

How much is too much?

To answer this question, researchers have been doing their homework on homework, conducting and examining hundreds of studies. Chris Drew Ph.D., founder and editor at The Helpful Professor recently compiled multiple statistics revealing the folly of today’s after-school busy work. Does any of the data he listed below ring true for you?

• 45 percent of parents think homework is too easy for their child, primarily because it is geared to the lowest standard under the Common Core State Standards .

• 74 percent of students say homework is a source of stress , defined as headaches, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, weight loss, and stomach problems.

• Students in high-performing high schools spend an average of 3.1 hours a night on homework , even though 1 to 2 hours is the optimal duration, according to a peer-reviewed study .

Not included in the list above is the fact many kids have to abandon activities they love — like sports and clubs — because homework deprives them of the needed time to enjoy themselves with other pursuits.

Conversely, The Helpful Professor does list a few pros of homework, noting it teaches discipline and time management, and helps parents know what’s being taught in the class.

The oft-bandied rule on homework quantity — 10 minutes a night per grade (starting from between 10 to 20 minutes in first grade) — is listed on the National Education Association’s website and the National Parent Teacher Association’s website , but few schools follow this rule.

Do you think your child is doing excessive homework? Harris Cooper Ph.D., author of a meta-study on homework , recommends talking with the teacher. “Often there is a miscommunication about the goals of homework assignments,” he says. “What appears to be problematic for kids, why they are doing an assignment, can be cleared up with a conversation.” Also, Cooper suggests taking a careful look at how your child is doing the assignments. It may seem like they’re taking two hours, but maybe your child is wandering off frequently to get a snack or getting distracted.

Less is often more

If your child is dutifully doing their work but still burning the midnight oil, it’s worth intervening to make sure your child gets enough sleep. A 2012 study of 535 high school students found that proper sleep may be far more essential to brain and body development.

For elementary school-age children, Cooper’s research at Duke University shows there is no measurable academic advantage to homework. For middle-schoolers, Cooper found there is a direct correlation between homework and achievement if assignments last between one to two hours per night. After two hours, however, achievement doesn’t improve. For high schoolers, Cooper’s research suggests that two hours per night is optimal. If teens have more than two hours of homework a night, their academic success flatlines. But less is not better. The average high school student doing homework outperformed 69 percent of the students in a class with no homework.

Many schools are starting to act on this research. A Florida superintendent abolished homework in her 42,000 student district, replacing it with 20 minutes of nightly reading. She attributed her decision to “ solid research about what works best in improving academic achievement in students .”

More family time

A 2020 survey by Crayola Experience reports 82 percent of children complain they don’t have enough quality time with their parents. Homework deserves much of the blame. “Kids should have a chance to just be kids and do things they enjoy, particularly after spending six hours a day in school,” says Alfie Kohn, author of The Homework Myth . “It’s absurd to insist that children must be engaged in constructive activities right up until their heads hit the pillow.”

By far, the best replacement for homework — for both parents and children — is bonding, relaxing time together.

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Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in.

stress homework study

It's no secret that kids hate homework. And as students grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has had a wide range of mental health impacts, is it time schools start listening to their pleas about workloads?

Some teachers are turning to social media to take a stand against homework. 

Tiktok user @misguided.teacher says he doesn't assign it because the "whole premise of homework is flawed."

For starters, he says, he can't grade work on "even playing fields" when students' home environments can be vastly different.

"Even students who go home to a peaceful house, do they really want to spend their time on busy work? Because typically that's what a lot of homework is, it's busy work," he says in the video that has garnered 1.6 million likes. "You only get one year to be 7, you only got one year to be 10, you only get one year to be 16, 18."

Mental health experts agree heavy workloads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether.

Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold , says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health."

"More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies," she says, adding that staying up late to finish assignments also leads to disrupted sleep and exhaustion.

Cynthia Catchings, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Talkspace , says heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression. 

And for all the distress homework  can cause, it's not as useful as many may think, says Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist and CEO of Omega Recovery treatment center.

"The research shows that there's really limited benefit of homework for elementary age students, that really the school work should be contained in the classroom," he says.

For older students, Kang says, homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night. 

"Most students, especially at these high achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's taking away time from their friends, from their families, their extracurricular activities. And these are all very important things for a person's mental and emotional health."

Catchings, who also taught third to 12th graders for 12 years, says she's seen the positive effects of a no-homework policy while working with students abroad.

"Not having homework was something that I always admired from the French students (and) the French schools, because that was helping the students to really have the time off and really disconnect from school," she says.

The answer may not be to eliminate homework completely but to be more mindful of the type of work students take home, suggests Kang, who was a high school teacher for 10 years.

"I don't think (we) should scrap homework; I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That's something that needs to be scrapped entirely," she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments.

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial 

Mindfulness surrounding homework is especially important in the context of the past two years. Many students will be struggling with mental health issues that were brought on or worsened by the pandemic , making heavy workloads even harder to balance.

"COVID was just a disaster in terms of the lack of structure. Everything just deteriorated," Kardaras says, pointing to an increase in cognitive issues and decrease in attention spans among students. "School acts as an anchor for a lot of children, as a stabilizing force, and that disappeared."

But even if students transition back to the structure of in-person classes, Kardaras suspects students may still struggle after two school years of shifted schedules and disrupted sleeping habits.

"We've seen adults struggling to go back to in-person work environments from remote work environments. That effect is amplified with children because children have less resources to be able to cope with those transitions than adults do," he explains.

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

In order to make the transition back to in-person school easier, Kang encourages students to "get good sleep, exercise regularly (and) eat a healthy diet."

To help manage workloads, she suggests students "get organized."

"There's so much mental clutter up there when you're disorganized. ... Sitting down and planning out their study schedules can really help manage their time," she says.

Breaking up assignments can also make things easier to tackle.

"I know that heavy workloads can be stressful, but if you sit down and you break down that studying into smaller chunks, they're much more manageable."

If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves.

"They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult for them to do on their own," she says. "It's good to speak up and ask those questions. Respectfully, of course, because these are your teachers. But still, I think sometimes teachers themselves need this feedback from their students."

More: Some teachers let their students sleep in class. Here's what mental health experts say.

More: Some parents are slipping young kids in for the COVID-19 vaccine, but doctors discourage the move as 'risky'

share this!

August 16, 2021

Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in

by Sara M Moniuszko

homework

It's no secret that kids hate homework. And as students grapple with an ongoing pandemic that has had a wide-range of mental health impacts, is it time schools start listening to their pleas over workloads?

Some teachers are turning to social media to take a stand against homework .

Tiktok user @misguided.teacher says he doesn't assign it because the "whole premise of homework is flawed."

For starters, he says he can't grade work on "even playing fields" when students' home environments can be vastly different.

"Even students who go home to a peaceful house, do they really want to spend their time on busy work? Because typically that's what a lot of homework is, it's busy work," he says in the video that has garnered 1.6 million likes. "You only get one year to be 7, you only got one year to be 10, you only get one year to be 16, 18."

Mental health experts agree heavy work loads have the potential do more harm than good for students, especially when taking into account the impacts of the pandemic. But they also say the answer may not be to eliminate homework altogether.

Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold, says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health."

"More than half of students say that homework is their primary source of stress, and we know what stress can do on our bodies," she says, adding that staying up late to finish assignments also leads to disrupted sleep and exhaustion.

Cynthia Catchings, a licensed clinical social worker and therapist at Talkspace, says heavy workloads can also cause serious mental health problems in the long run, like anxiety and depression.

And for all the distress homework causes, it's not as useful as many may think, says Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, a psychologist and CEO of Omega Recovery treatment center.

"The research shows that there's really limited benefit of homework for elementary age students, that really the school work should be contained in the classroom," he says.

For older students, Kang says homework benefits plateau at about two hours per night.

"Most students, especially at these high-achieving schools, they're doing a minimum of three hours, and it's taking away time from their friends from their families, their extracurricular activities. And these are all very important things for a person's mental and emotional health."

Catchings, who also taught third to 12th graders for 12 years, says she's seen the positive effects of a no homework policy while working with students abroad.

"Not having homework was something that I always admired from the French students (and) the French schools, because that was helping the students to really have the time off and really disconnect from school ," she says.

The answer may not be to eliminate homework completely, but to be more mindful of the type of work students go home with, suggests Kang, who was a high-school teacher for 10 years.

"I don't think (we) should scrap homework, I think we should scrap meaningless, purposeless busy work-type homework. That's something that needs to be scrapped entirely," she says, encouraging teachers to be thoughtful and consider the amount of time it would take for students to complete assignments.

The pandemic made the conversation around homework more crucial

Mindfulness surrounding homework is especially important in the context of the last two years. Many students will be struggling with mental health issues that were brought on or worsened by the pandemic, making heavy workloads even harder to balance.

"COVID was just a disaster in terms of the lack of structure. Everything just deteriorated," Kardaras says, pointing to an increase in cognitive issues and decrease in attention spans among students. "School acts as an anchor for a lot of children, as a stabilizing force, and that disappeared."

But even if students transition back to the structure of in-person classes, Kardaras suspects students may still struggle after two school years of shifted schedules and disrupted sleeping habits.

"We've seen adults struggling to go back to in-person work environments from remote work environments. That effect is amplified with children because children have less resources to be able to cope with those transitions than adults do," he explains.

'Get organized' ahead of back-to-school

In order to make the transition back to in-person school easier, Kang encourages students to "get good sleep, exercise regularly (and) eat a healthy diet."

To help manage workloads, she suggests students "get organized."

"There's so much mental clutter up there when you're disorganized... sitting down and planning out their study schedules can really help manage their time," she says.

Breaking assignments up can also make things easier to tackle.

"I know that heavy workloads can be stressful, but if you sit down and you break down that studying into smaller chunks, they're much more manageable."

If workloads are still too much, Kang encourages students to advocate for themselves.

"They should tell their teachers when a homework assignment just took too much time or if it was too difficult for them to do on their own," she says. "It's good to speak up and ask those questions. Respectfully, of course, because these are your teachers. But still, I think sometimes teachers themselves need this feedback from their students."

©2021 USA Today Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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Is Homework a Waste of Students' Time? Study Finds It's the Biggest Cause of Teen Stress

As the debate over the need for homework continues, a new study found that it's the biggest cause of teen stress, leading to sleepless nights and poor academic performance

Julie Mazziotta is the Sports Editor at PEOPLE, covering everything from the NFL to tennis to Simone Biles and Tom Brady. She was previously an Associate Editor for the Health vertical for six years, and prior to joining PEOPLE worked at Health Magazine. When not covering professional athletes, Julie spends her time as a (very) amateur athlete, training for marathons, long bike trips and hikes.

stress homework study

It’s the bane of every teen’s existence. After sitting through hours at school, they leave only to get started on mountains of homework. And educators are mixed on its effectiveness . Some say the practice reinforces what students learned during the day, while others argue that it put unnecessary stress on kids and parents , who are often stuck nagging or helping.

According to a new study, conducted by the Better Sleep Council , that homework stress is the biggest source of frustration for teens, with 74 percent of those surveyed ranking it the highest, above self-esteem (51 percent) parental expectations (45 percent) and bullying (15 percent).

Homework is taking up a large chunk of their time , too — around 15-plus hours a week, with about one-third of teens reporting that it’s closer to 20-plus hours.

The stress and excessive homework adds up to lost sleep, the BSC says. According to the survey, 57 percent of teenagers said that they don’t get enough sleep, with 67 reporting that they get just five to seven hours a night — a far cry from the recommended eight to ten hours. The BSC says that their research shows that when teens feel more stressed, their sleep suffers. They go to sleep later, wake up earlier and have more trouble falling and staying asleep than less-stressed teens.

“We’re finding that teenagers are experiencing this cycle where they sacrifice their sleep to spend extra time on homework, which gives them more stress — but they don’t get better grades,” said Mary Helen Rogers, the vice president of marketing and communications for the BSC.

RELATED VIDEO: To Help Or Not To Help: Moms Talk About Whether Or Not They Help Their Children With Homework

Another interesting finding from this study: students who go to bed earlier and wake up earlier do better academically than those who stay up late, even if those night owls are spending that time doing homework.

To end this cycle of sleep deprivation and stress, the BSC recommends that students try setting a consistent time to go to sleep each night, regardless of leftover homework. And their other sleep tips are good for anyone, regardless of age — keep the temperature between 65 and 67 degrees, turn off the electronic devices before bed, make sure the mattress is comfy and reduce noise with earplugs or sound machines.

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By submitting my email address. i certify that i am 13 years of age or older, agree to recieve marketing email messages from the princeton review, and agree to terms of use., homework wars: high school workloads, student stress, and how parents can help.

Winning the Homework Wars

Studies of typical homework loads vary : In one, a Stanford researcher found that more than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive. The research , conducted among students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities, found that too much homework resulted in stress, physical health problems and a general lack of balance.

Additionally, the  2014 Brown Center Report on American Education , found that with the exception of nine-year-olds, the amount of homework schools assign has remained relatively unchanged since 1984, meaning even those in charge of the curricula don't see a need for adding more to that workload.

But student experiences don’t always match these results. On our own Student Life in America survey, over 50% of students reported feeling stressed, 25% reported that homework was their biggest source of stress, and on average teens are spending one-third of their study time feeling stressed, anxious, or stuck.

The disparity can be explained in one of the conclusions regarding the Brown Report:

Of the three age groups, 17-year-olds have the most bifurcated distribution of the homework burden. They have the largest percentage of kids with no homework (especially when the homework shirkers are added in) and the largest percentage with more than two hours.

So what does that mean for parents who still endure the homework wars at home?

Read More: Teaching Your Kids How To Deal with School Stress

It means that sometimes kids who are on a rigorous college-prep track, probably are receiving more homework, but the statistics are melding it with the kids who are receiving no homework. And on our survey, 64% of students reported that their parents couldn’t help them with their work. This is where the real homework wars lie—not just the amount, but the ability to successfully complete assignments and feel success.

Parents want to figure out how to help their children manage their homework stress and learn the material.

Our Top 4 Tips for Ending Homework Wars

1. have a routine..

Every parenting advice article you will ever read emphasizes the importance of a routine. There’s a reason for that: it works. A routine helps put order into an often disorderly world. It removes the thinking and arguing and “when should I start?” because that decision has already been made. While routines must be flexible to accommodate soccer practice on Tuesday and volunteer work on Thursday, knowing in general when and where you, or your child, will do homework literally removes half the battle.

2. Have a battle plan.

Overwhelmed students look at a mountain of homework and think “insurmountable.” But parents can look at it with an outsider’s perspective and help them plan. Put in an extra hour Monday when you don’t have soccer. Prepare for the AP Chem test on Friday a little at a time each evening so Thursday doesn’t loom as a scary study night (consistency and repetition will also help lock the information in your brain). Start reading the book for your English report so that it’s underway. Go ahead and write a few sentences, so you don’t have a blank page staring at you. Knowing what the week will look like helps you keep calm and carry on.

3. Don’t be afraid to call in reserves.

You can’t outsource the “battle” but you can outsource the help ! We find that kids just do better having someone other than their parents help them —and sometimes even parents with the best of intentions aren’t equipped to wrestle with complicated physics problem. At The Princeton Review, we specialize in making homework time less stressful. Our tutors are available 24/7 to work one-to-one in an online classroom with a chat feature, interactive whiteboard, and the file sharing tool, where students can share their most challenging assignments.

4. Celebrate victories—and know when to surrender.

Students and parents can review completed assignments together at the end of the night -- acknowledging even small wins helps build a sense of accomplishment. If you’ve been through a particularly tough battle, you’ll also want to reach reach a cease-fire before hitting your bunk. A war ends when one person disengages. At some point, after parents have provided a listening ear, planning, and support, they have to let natural consequences take their course. And taking a step back--and removing any pressure a parent may be inadvertently creating--can be just what’s needed.

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Does Homework Cause Stress? Exploring the Impact on Students’ Mental Health

How much homework is too much?

stress homework study

Jump to: The Link Between Homework and Stress | Homework’s Impact on Mental Health | Benefits of Homework | How Much Homework Should Teacher’s Assign? | Advice for Students | How Healium Helps

Homework has become a matter of concern for educators, parents, and researchers due to its potential effects on students’ stress levels. It’s no secret students often find themselves grappling with high levels of stress and anxiety throughout their academic careers, so understanding the extent to which homework affects those stress levels is important. 

By delving into the latest research and understanding the underlying factors at play, we hope to curate insights for educators, parents, and students who are wondering  is homework causing stress in their lives?

The Link Between Homework and Stress: What the Research Says

Over the years, numerous studies investigated the relationship between homework and stress levels in students. 

One study published in the Journal of Experimental Education found that students who reported spending more than two hours per night on homework experienced higher stress levels and physical health issues . Those same students reported over three hours of homework a night on average.

This study, conducted by Stanford lecturer Denise Pope, has been heavily cited throughout the years, with WebMD eproducing the below video on the topic– part of their special report series on teens and stress : 

Additional studies published by Sleep Health Journal found that long hours on homework on may be a risk factor for depression while also suggesting that reducing workload outside of class may benefit sleep and mental fitness .

Lastly, a study presented by Frontiers in Psychology highlighted significant health implications for high school students facing chronic stress, including emotional exhaustion and alcohol and drug use.

Homework’s Potential Impact on Mental Health and Well-being

Homework-induced stress on students can involve both psychological and physiological side effects. 

1. Potential Psychological Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:

• Anxiety: The pressure to perform academically and meet homework expectations can lead to heightened levels of anxiety in students. Constant worry about completing assignments on time and achieving high grades can be overwhelming.

• Sleep Disturbances : Homework-related stress can disrupt students’ sleep patterns, leading to sleep anxiety or sleep deprivation, both of which can negatively impact cognitive function and emotional regulation.

• Reduced Motivation: Excessive homework demands could drain students’ motivation, causing them to feel fatigued and disengaged from their studies. Reduced motivation may lead to a lack of interest in learning, hindering overall academic performance.

2. Potential Physical Effects of Homework-Induced Stress:

• Impaired Immune Function: Prolonged stress could weaken the immune system, making students more susceptible to illnesses and infections.

• Disrupted Hormonal Balance : The body’s stress response triggers the release of hormones like cortisol, which, when chronically elevated due to stress, can disrupt the delicate hormonal balance and lead to various health issues.

• Gastrointestinal Disturbances: Stress has been known to affect the gastrointestinal system, leading to symptoms such as stomachaches, nausea, and other digestive problems.

• Cardiovascular Impact: The increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure associated with stress can strain the cardiovascular system, potentially increasing the risk of heart-related issues in the long run.

• Brain impact: Prolonged exposure to stress hormones may impact the brain’s functioning , affecting memory, concentration, and cognitive abilities.

The Benefits of Homework

It’s important to note that homework also offers many benefits that contribute to students’ academic growth and development, such as: 

• Development of Time Management Skills: Completing homework within specified deadlines encourages students to manage their time efficiently. This valuable skill extends beyond academics and becomes essential in various aspects of life.

• Preparation for Future Challenges : Homework helps prepare students for future academic challenges and responsibilities. It fosters a sense of discipline and responsibility, qualities that are crucial for success in higher education and professional life.

• Enhanced Problem-Solving Abilities: Homework often presents students with challenging problems to solve. Tackling these problems independently nurtures critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

While homework can foster discipline, time management, and self-directed learning, the middle ground may be to  strike a balance that promotes both academic growth and mental well-being .

How Much Homework Should Teachers Assign?

As a general guideline, educators suggest assigning a workload that allows students to grasp concepts effectively without overwhelming them . Quality over quantity is key, ensuring that homework assignments are purposeful, relevant, and targeted towards specific objectives. 

Advice for Students: How to balance Homework and Well-being

Finding a balance between academic responsibilities and well-being is crucial for students. Here are some practical tips and techniques to help manage homework-related stress and foster a healthier approach to learning:

• Effective Time Management : Encourage students to create a structured study schedule that allocates sufficient time for homework, breaks, and other activities. Prioritizing tasks and setting realistic goals can prevent last-minute rushes and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

• Break Tasks into Smaller Chunks : Large assignments can be daunting and may contribute to stress. Students should break such tasks into smaller, manageable parts. This approach not only makes the workload seem less intimidating but also provides a sense of accomplishment as each section is completed.

• Find a Distraction-Free Zone : Establish a designated study area that is free from distractions like smartphones, television, or social media. This setting will improve focus and productivity, reducing time needed to complete homework.

• Be Active : Regular exercise is known to reduce stress and enhance mood. Encourage students to incorporate physical activity into their daily routine, whether it’s going for a walk, playing a sport, or doing yoga.

• Practice Mindfulness and Relaxation Techniques : Encourage students to engage in mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing exercises or meditation, to alleviate stress and improve concentration. Taking short breaks to relax and clear the mind can enhance overall well-being and cognitive performance.

• Seek Support : Teachers, parents, and school counselors play an essential role in supporting students. Create an open and supportive environment where students feel comfortable expressing their concerns and seeking help when needed.

How Healium is Helping in Schools

Stress is caused by so many factors and not just the amount of work students are taking home.  Our company created a virtual reality stress management solution… a mental fitness tool called “Healium” that’s teaching students how to learn to self-regulate their stress and downshift in a drugless way. Schools implementing Healium have seen improvements from supporting dysregulated students and ADHD challenges to empowering students with body awareness and learning to self-regulate stress . Here’s one of their stories. 

By providing students with the tools they need to self-manage stress and anxiety, we represent a forward-looking approach to education that prioritizes the holistic development of every student. 

To learn more about how Healium works, watch the video below.

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Sarah Hill , a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered immersive media channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.

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School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

Patti Neighmond

stress homework study

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill. Toni Greaves for NPR hide caption

Colleen Frainey, 16, of Tualatin, Ore., cut back on advanced placement classes in her junior year because the stress was making her physically ill.

When high school junior Nora Huynh got her report card, she was devastated to see that she didn't get a perfect 4.0.

Nora "had a total meltdown, cried for hours," her mother, Jennie Huynh of Alameda, Calif., says. "I couldn't believe her reaction."

Nora is doing college-level work, her mother says, but many of her friends are taking enough advanced classes to boost their grade-point averages above 4.0. "It breaks my heart to see her upset when she's doing so awesome and going above and beyond."

And the pressure is taking a physical toll, too. At age 16, Nora is tired, is increasingly irritated with her siblings and often suffers headaches, her mother says.

Teens Talk Stress

When NPR asked on Facebook if stress is an issue for teenagers, they spoke loud and clear:

  • "Academic stress has been a part of my life ever since I can remember," wrote Bretta McCall, 16, of Seattle. "This year I spend about 12 hours a day on schoolwork. I'm home right now because I was feeling so sick from stress I couldn't be at school. So as you can tell, it's a big part of my life!"
  • "At the time of writing this, my weekend assignments include two papers, a PowerPoint to go with a 10-minute presentation, studying for a test and two quizzes, and an entire chapter (approximately 40 pages) of notes in a college textbook," wrote Connor West of New Jersey.
  • "It's a problem that's basically brushed off by most people," wrote Kelly Farrell in Delaware. "There's this mentality of, 'You're doing well, so why are you complaining?' " She says she started experiencing symptoms of stress in middle school, and was diagnosed with panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder in high school.
  • "Parents are the worst about all of this," writes Colin Hughes of Illinois. "All I hear is, 'Work harder, you're a smart kid, I know you have it in you, and if you want to go to college you need to work harder.' It's a pain."

Parents are right to be worried about stress and their children's health, says Mary Alvord , a clinical psychologist in Maryland and public education coordinator for the American Psychological Association.

"A little stress is a good thing," Alvord says. "It can motivate students to be organized. But too much stress can backfire."

Almost 40 percent of parents say their high-schooler is experiencing a lot of stress from school, according to a new NPR poll conducted with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health. In most cases, that stress is from academics, not social issues or bullying, the poll found. (See the full results here .)

Homework was a leading cause of stress, with 24 percent of parents saying it's an issue.

Teenagers say they're suffering, too. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that nearly half of all teens — 45 percent — said they were stressed by school pressures.

Chronic stress can cause a sense of panic and paralysis, Alvord says. The child feels stuck, which only adds to the feeling of stress.

Parents can help put the child's distress in perspective, particularly when they get into what Alvord calls catastrophic "what if" thinking: "What if I get a bad grade, then what if that means I fail the course, then I'll never get into college."

Then move beyond talking and do something about it.

stress homework study

Colleen pets her horse, Bishop. They had been missing out on rides together because of homework. Toni Greaves for NPR hide caption

Colleen pets her horse, Bishop. They had been missing out on rides together because of homework.

That's what 16-year-old Colleen Frainey of Tualatin, Ore., did. As a sophomore last year, she was taking all advanced courses. The pressure was making her sick. "I didn't feel good, and when I didn't feel good I felt like I couldn't do my work, which would stress me out more," she says.

Mom Abigail Frainey says, "It was more than we could handle as a family."

With encouragement from her parents, Colleen dropped one of her advanced courses. The family's decision generated disbelief from other parents. "Why would I let her take the easy way out?" Abigail Frainey heard.

But she says dialing down on academics was absolutely the right decision for her child. Colleen no longer suffers headaches or stomachaches. She's still in honors courses, but the workload this year is manageable.

Even better, Colleen now has time to do things she never would have considered last year, like going out to dinner with the family on a weeknight, or going to the barn to ride her horse, Bishop.

Psychologist Alvord says a balanced life should be the goal for all families. If a child is having trouble getting things done, parents can help plan the week, deciding what's important and what's optional. "Just basic time management — that will help reduce the stress."

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NYU Study Examines Top High School Students’ Stress and Coping Mechanisms

The study shows that there is growing awareness many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior. Furthermore, this chronic stress appears to persist into the college years, and researchers warns it may contribute to academic disengagement and mental health problems among emerging adults.

  • Over time selective high schools have oriented themselves to address a context of increasingly competitive college admissions
  • School work, college applications, extracurricular activities, and parental expectations all contribute to teenagers’ stress
  • Youth, schools, and experts identified substance use as a common strategy for coping with stress

“School, homework, extracurricular activities, sleep, repeat—that’s what it can be for some of these students,” says Noelle Leonard, PhD, a senior research scientist at the New York University College of Nursing (NYUCN).

According to Leonard academic, athletic, social, and personal challenges have been regarded as domains of “good stress” for high school aged youth. However, there is growing awareness that many subgroups of youth experience high levels of chronic stress, to the extent that it impedes their abilities to succeed academically, compromises their mental health functioning, and fosters risk behavior. Furthermore, this chronic stress appears to persist into the college years, and Leonard warns it may contribute to academic disengagement and mental health problems among emerging adults.

“We are concerned that students in these selective, high pressure high schools can get burned out even before they reach college,” noted Leonard. “The Charles Engelhard Foundation is interested in the issue of college engagement, and funded us to explore whether the roots of disengagement reach back as far as high school. We found that indeed they do.”

In a four-phase quantitative and qualitative study published in Frontiers in Psychol ogy in July 2015, a team of NYUCN researchers led by Leonard assessed the coping skills, academic engagement, family involvement and expectations, mental health symptoms, and substance use among juniors enrolled in two highly selective private secondary schools in the Northeast: one an urban day school; the other a boarding school.

“While there is no doubt students in selective public high schools also experience high rates of chronic stress, we decided to study the private school setting, which has been under-studied compared to public institutions,” said Marya Gwadz, PhD, the study’s Principal Investigator.

Among the differences, families pay substantial tuition rates for a private education and most students are affluent, and “such factors result in a unique set of pressures, expectations, norms, and resources,” noted Leonard. The study focuses on students in the eleventh grade. Chronic stress tends to be particularly high for this cohort, as it is generally the point at which students consolidate their portfolios in preparation for college applications.

“We sought to describe the experiences of the students, but also uncover the larger cultural and societal factors that drive the problem of chronic stress, since schools, families, and youth don’t operate in a vacuum,” said Amanda Ritchie, MAA, a study collaborator. “We know schools and families are embedded in society and are responding to its changing requirements and demands, with respect to the competitiveness of the college admissions process, the kinds of skills needed to succeed in the workforce, and even uncertainties in the global economy.”

In the first phase of the study, researchers conducted semi-structured qualitative interviews with nineteen private school teachers, counselors, and administrators to elicit their perspectives on student stress and coping. These responses were in turn used to inform the second phase of the study, a quantitative anonymous internet-based survey, administered to a total of 128 juniors between the two private schools.

About half (48%) of those surveyed reported completing at least three hours of homework a night, with girls 40 percent more likely to report three or more hours of homework a night than boys. Participants demonstrated a relatively strong academic performance, with girls reporting an average GPA of 3.57, higher than boys’ average of 3.34. Students showed high levels of motivation for academic achievement, with an average valuation of 2.35 on a scale of 0 (least) to 3 (most). On average, girls were found to be more motivated in this regard than boys (2.48 vs. 2.22). Students reported high rates of feelings of “closeness” to their parents, with an average valuation of 3.15 on a 0-4 scale.

Nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed. Females reported significantly higher levels of stress than males (60% vs. 41%). Grades, homework, and preparing for college were the greatest sources of stress for both genders. A substantial minority, 26 percent of participants, reported symptoms of depression at a clinically significant level.

In the third phase of the study, the NYUCN researchers conducted qualitative (semi-structured, open-ended) interviews with eighteen of the students surveyed to provide an interpretation of the results from the students’ perspective.

For the fourth and final phase of the research, a panel of eight private school experts was convened— that included clinical social workers, psychologists, a private school guidance counselor, a teacher with both private and public school experience, a parent of two recent private school graduates, and a student who recently graduated from a private school. The Expert Panel members were presented with the results from the study’s three previous phases in individual meetings and the responses from these interviews were used to further interpret and expand upon the data from prior phases.

“I think that parental pressure (on schools and students) is real,” said a teacher with over twenty years of experience in the private school sector interviewed in the study’s fourth stage. “Parents are coming in and thinking, I’m (spending a lot of money) and I need to get something, a very tangible something. A great education is not a tangible something; a diploma from Harvard, Princeton or Yale …that’s tangible.”

Yet it has never been more difficult to enter one of these top-tier institutions, which may accept only 5 or 6 percent of their applicants, although in general a strong student will be able to gain access to any number of good colleges or universities. These highly selective schools and parents are responding to this competitive climate. Private schools have reacted by providing more difficult classes (which may require longer hours of challenging homework), college-level classes, and requiring extracurricular activities, as well as other opportunities for students to stand out, such as entrepreneurial or community service opportunities. Parents, in turn, may demand their children take Advanced Placement courses, even in cases where they are told their child is not a good fit for the course and may not be able to handle the work. Thus schools, parents, and students may feel caught in a cycle of escalating demands and expectations, largely out of their control and driven by greater societal factors.

Importantly, in a theme echoed by schools and experts, students noted that these demands did not always feel appropriate to their developmental levels. Instead, they felt they were asked to work as hard as adults, or even harder, with little time left for relaxation or creativity.

When exploring how students managed the various sources of stress described in the study, researchers found they used a variety of coping strategies ranging from healthy, problem-focused coping, to less adaptive, emotion focused, internal and external avoidance coping strategies.  Active or problem-solving strategies for coping with stress included listening to or playing music, playing video/computer games, meditating, or getting away from school.

“Three main themes emerged as the most dominant adaptive coping strategies, notably, sports and exercise, preventive activities such as good planning skills, and maintaining a balanced perspective on school and grades,” said Leonard.

“On the opposite end of the spectrum, our interviews yielded few descriptions of less adaptive strategies, in contrast to the many adaptive strategies articulated by students, with two exceptions, emotional exhaustion and substance use,” said Michelle Grethel, Ph.D., an expert and independent consultant. Students described emotional exhaustion as a feeling of lethargy or immobilization in response to feeling overwhelmed and stressed. “I just don't do anything”, “I won't do any of it” or “ I lose the ability to function” were some of the ways students described this sense of paralysis. One student recounts: “You get tired. You don't really want to be around people. You just get in this kind of… funk where, like, you just kind of want to be alone in your room and just sleep. Or just like not dealing with anything…”

“Substance use for stress relief was a predominant theme in our interviews with students, over two-thirds of whom described substance use as both endemic to their social experience and as a method for managing stress,” says Dr. Charles Cleland, a study investigator. Alcohol and marijuana were described as the primary substances students used for relaxation. As a male student noted: “most of the things that people do, here, when they're stressed is they go get drunk or they get high.” However, for the most part students reported that substance use, while very common, did not usually rise to the level of problem or hazardous use.

Substance use for this purpose was not gender specific. One female student recounts, “Marijuana probably was a big anti-stress thing for me last year…just being relaxed for like an hour or two.” In fact, the quantitative data indicates no gender differences for general substance use. Over the thirty-day period preceding the survey, 38 percent of students reported getting drunk and 34 percent of students reported getting high on an illegal substance, rates one to two times greater than reported in national normative samples.

“While students didn’t discuss prescription drug use, members of the expert panel indicated its widespread use among students for whom it was prescribed as well as those for whom it was not prescribed,” said Gwadz. One member of the panel, who counsels students noted “Using Ritalin (a stimulant commonly prescribed for ADHD) is seen only as a benefit and [the students are] incredulous that any faculty or counselor would challenge that taking Ritalin to get an edge in your academic performance, that there could be anything wrong with that … that’s what you have to do in this world.”

Stress commonly leads to mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Results of the study also indicated that parents, more so than their students, experienced a stigma associated with receiving mental health services. Members of the expert panel noted that parents will go to great lengths to avoid taking their children to an outside physician or counselor, as they believe their child will be labeled and such treatment will inhibit their child from getting into the college of their choice.

The researchers note that private schools take a multi-faceted approach to reducing the level of perceived stress and improving adaptive coping among students. High-performing schools mindful of the need to manage chronic stress among students have implemented strategies such as changing school schedules, staggering exams and assignments among different classes, and providing stress reduction opportunities such as yoga and meditation.

“Schools have an opportunity to engage and train families on ways to increase their capacities to serve as resources for their children; to educate families on the deleterious effects of chronic stress and the role of substances in coping with stress; and engage families and students in a dialogue about expectations for achievement and a wider definition of success, all of which may allow students to fully participate in the richness of the private school environment,” said Leonard

Both Leonard and Gwadz note a number of promising avenues for future study. Given the exploratory nature of this study, they were unable to interview parents, who play a vital role in how students view and manage stress. While many students, teachers, and expert panel members in the current study discussed the role of parents in some detail, future research should explore parents’ hopes and expectations for their children as well as how parents communicate these expectations. The researchers also hope to expand the study to include a more nationally representative sampling of private schools.

Researcher Affiliations: Noelle R. Leonard1, 2, Marya Viorst Gwadz1, Amanda Ritchie1, Jessica L. Linick1, 2, Charles M. Cleland1, Luther Elliott3, Michelle Grethel4.

1. Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR), College of Nursing, New York University, New York, NY, USA

2. Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA

3. National Development and Research Institutes, Inc., New York, NY, USA

4. Independent Consultant, New York, NY, USA

Acknowledgements: This work was supported by a grant from the Charles Engelhard Foundation and the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR; P30 DA011041). The study’s authors wish to thank the participating schools, teachers, administrators, staff, students, and Experts.

About New York University College of Nursing

NYU College of Nursing is a global leader in nursing education, research, and practice. It offers a Bachelor of Science with major in Nursing, a Master of Science and Post-Master’s Certificate Programs, a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree and a Doctor of Philosophy in Research Theory and Development. For more information, visit  https://nursing.nyu.edu/

About CDUHR

The mission of the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDUHR) is to end the HIV and HCV epidemics in drug using populations and their communities by conducting transdisciplinary research and disseminating its findings to inform programmatic, policy, and grass roots initiatives at the local, state, national and global levels. CDUHR is a Core Center of Excellence funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (Grant #P30 DA011041).  It is the first center for the socio-behavioral study of substance use and HIV in the United States and is located at the New York University College of Nursing. For more information, visit www.cduhr.org .

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Is Homework Necessary? Education Inequity and Its Impact on Students

stress homework study

The Problem with Homework: It Highlights Inequalities

How much homework is too much homework, when does homework actually help, negative effects of homework for students, how teachers can help.

Schools are getting rid of homework from Essex, Mass., to Los Angeles, Calif. Although the no-homework trend may sound alarming, especially to parents dreaming of their child’s acceptance to Harvard, Stanford or Yale, there is mounting evidence that eliminating homework in grade school may actually have great benefits , especially with regard to educational equity.

In fact, while the push to eliminate homework may come as a surprise to many adults, the debate is not new . Parents and educators have been talking about this subject for the last century, so that the educational pendulum continues to swing back and forth between the need for homework and the need to eliminate homework.

One of the most pressing talking points around homework is how it disproportionately affects students from less affluent families. The American Psychological Association (APA) explained:

“Kids from wealthier homes are more likely to have resources such as computers, internet connections, dedicated areas to do schoolwork and parents who tend to be more educated and more available to help them with tricky assignments. Kids from disadvantaged homes are more likely to work at afterschool jobs, or to be home without supervision in the evenings while their parents work multiple jobs.”

[RELATED] How to Advance Your Career: A Guide for Educators >> 

While students growing up in more affluent areas are likely playing sports, participating in other recreational activities after school, or receiving additional tutoring, children in disadvantaged areas are more likely headed to work after school, taking care of siblings while their parents work or dealing with an unstable home life. Adding homework into the mix is one more thing to deal with — and if the student is struggling, the task of completing homework can be too much to consider at the end of an already long school day.

While all students may groan at the mention of homework, it may be more than just a nuisance for poor and disadvantaged children, instead becoming another burden to carry and contend with.

Beyond the logistical issues, homework can negatively impact physical health and stress — and once again this may be a more significant problem among economically disadvantaged youth who typically already have a higher stress level than peers from more financially stable families .

Yet, today, it is not just the disadvantaged who suffer from the stressors that homework inflicts. A 2014 CNN article, “Is Homework Making Your Child Sick?” , covered the issue of extreme pressure placed on children of the affluent. The article looked at the results of a study surveying more than 4,300 students from 10 high-performing public and private high schools in upper-middle-class California communities.

“Their findings were troubling: Research showed that excessive homework is associated with high stress levels, physical health problems and lack of balance in children’s lives; 56% of the students in the study cited homework as a primary stressor in their lives,” according to the CNN story. “That children growing up in poverty are at-risk for a number of ailments is both intuitive and well-supported by research. More difficult to believe is the growing consensus that children on the other end of the spectrum, children raised in affluence, may also be at risk.”

When it comes to health and stress it is clear that excessive homework, for children at both ends of the spectrum, can be damaging. Which begs the question, how much homework is too much?

The National Education Association and the National Parent Teacher Association recommend that students spend 10 minutes per grade level per night on homework . That means that first graders should spend 10 minutes on homework, second graders 20 minutes and so on. But a study published by The American Journal of Family Therapy found that students are getting much more than that.

While 10 minutes per day doesn’t sound like much, that quickly adds up to an hour per night by sixth grade. The National Center for Education Statistics found that high school students get an average of 6.8 hours of homework per week, a figure that is much too high according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). It is also to be noted that this figure does not take into consideration the needs of underprivileged student populations.

In a study conducted by the OECD it was found that “after around four hours of homework per week, the additional time invested in homework has a negligible impact on performance .” That means that by asking our children to put in an hour or more per day of dedicated homework time, we are not only not helping them, but — according to the aforementioned studies — we are hurting them, both physically and emotionally.

What’s more is that homework is, as the name implies, to be completed at home, after a full day of learning that is typically six to seven hours long with breaks and lunch included. However, a study by the APA on how people develop expertise found that elite musicians, scientists and athletes do their most productive work for about only four hours per day. Similarly, companies like Tower Paddle Boards are experimenting with a five-hour workday, under the assumption that people are not able to be truly productive for much longer than that. CEO Stephan Aarstol told CNBC that he believes most Americans only get about two to three hours of work done in an eight-hour day.

In the scope of world history, homework is a fairly new construct in the U.S. Students of all ages have been receiving work to complete at home for centuries, but it was educational reformer Horace Mann who first brought the concept to America from Prussia. 

Since then, homework’s popularity has ebbed and flowed in the court of public opinion. In the 1930s, it was considered child labor (as, ironically, it compromised children’s ability to do chores at home). Then, in the 1950s, implementing mandatory homework was hailed as a way to ensure America’s youth were always one step ahead of Soviet children during the Cold War. Homework was formally mandated as a tool for boosting educational quality in 1986 by the U.S. Department of Education, and has remained in common practice ever since.  

School work assigned and completed outside of school hours is not without its benefits. Numerous studies have shown that regular homework has a hand in improving student performance and connecting students to their learning. When reviewing these studies, take them with a grain of salt; there are strong arguments for both sides, and only you will know which solution is best for your students or school. 

Homework improves student achievement.

  • Source: The High School Journal, “ When is Homework Worth the Time?: Evaluating the Association between Homework and Achievement in High School Science and Math ,” 2012. 
  • Source: IZA.org, “ Does High School Homework Increase Academic Achievement? ,” 2014. **Note: Study sample comprised only high school boys. 

Homework helps reinforce classroom learning.

  • Source: “ Debunk This: People Remember 10 Percent of What They Read ,” 2015.

Homework helps students develop good study habits and life skills.

  • Sources: The Repository @ St. Cloud State, “ Types of Homework and Their Effect on Student Achievement ,” 2017; Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.
  • Source: Journal of Advanced Academics, “ Developing Self-Regulation Skills: The Important Role of Homework ,” 2011.

Homework allows parents to be involved with their children’s learning.

  • Parents can see what their children are learning and working on in school every day. 
  • Parents can participate in their children’s learning by guiding them through homework assignments and reinforcing positive study and research habits.
  • Homework observation and participation can help parents understand their children’s academic strengths and weaknesses, and even identify possible learning difficulties.
  • Source: Phys.org, “ Sociologist Upends Notions about Parental Help with Homework ,” 2018.

While some amount of homework may help students connect to their learning and enhance their in-class performance, too much homework can have damaging effects. 

Students with too much homework have elevated stress levels. 

  • Source: USA Today, “ Is It Time to Get Rid of Homework? Mental Health Experts Weigh In ,” 2021.
  • Source: Stanford University, “ Stanford Research Shows Pitfalls of Homework ,” 2014.

Students with too much homework may be tempted to cheat. 

  • Source: The Chronicle of Higher Education, “ High-Tech Cheating Abounds, and Professors Bear Some Blame ,” 2010.
  • Source: The American Journal of Family Therapy, “ Homework and Family Stress: With Consideration of Parents’ Self Confidence, Educational Level, and Cultural Background ,” 2015.

Homework highlights digital inequity. 

  • Sources: NEAToday.org, “ The Homework Gap: The ‘Cruelest Part of the Digital Divide’ ,” 2016; CNET.com, “ The Digital Divide Has Left Millions of School Kids Behind ,” 2021.
  • Source: Investopedia, “ Digital Divide ,” 2022; International Journal of Education and Social Science, “ Getting the Homework Done: Social Class and Parents’ Relationship to Homework ,” 2015.
  • Source: World Economic Forum, “ COVID-19 exposed the digital divide. Here’s how we can close it ,” 2021.

Homework does not help younger students.

  • Source: Review of Educational Research, “ Does Homework Improve Academic Achievement? A Synthesis of Researcher, 1987-2003 ,” 2006.

To help students find the right balance and succeed, teachers and educators must start the homework conversation, both internally at their school and with parents. But in order to successfully advocate on behalf of students, teachers must be well educated on the subject, fully understanding the research and the outcomes that can be achieved by eliminating or reducing the homework burden. There is a plethora of research and writing on the subject for those interested in self-study.

For teachers looking for a more in-depth approach or for educators with a keen interest in educational equity, formal education may be the best route. If this latter option sounds appealing, there are now many reputable schools offering online master of education degree programs to help educators balance the demands of work and family life while furthering their education in the quest to help others.

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Family and Academic Stress and Their Impact on Students' Depression Level and Academic Performance

1 School of Mechatronics Engineering, Daqing Normal University, Daqing, China

2 School of Marxism, Heilongjiang University, Harbin, China

Jacob Cherian

3 College of Business, Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Noor Un Nisa Khan

4 Faculty of Business Administration, Iqra University Karachi Pakistan, Karachi, Pakistan

Kalpina Kumari

5 Faculty of Department of Business Administration, Greenwich University Karachi, Karachi, Pakistan

Muhammad Safdar Sial

6 Department of Management Sciences, COMSATS University Islamabad (CUI), Islamabad, Pakistan

Ubaldo Comite

7 Department of Business Sciences, University Giustino Fortunato, Benevento, Italy

Beata Gavurova

8 Faculty of Mining, Ecology, Process Control and Geotechnologies, Technical University of Kosice, Kosice, Slovakia

József Popp

9 Hungarian National Bank–Research Center, John von Neumann University, Kecskemét, Hungary

10 College of Business and Economics, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Associated Data

The raw data supporting the conclusions of this article will be made available by the authors, without undue reservation.

Current research examines the impact of academic and familial stress on students' depression levels and the subsequent impact on their academic performance based on Lazarus' cognitive appraisal theory of stress. The non-probability convenience sampling technique has been used to collect data from undergraduate and postgraduate students using a modified questionnaire with a five-point Likert scale. This study used the SEM method to examine the link between stress, depression, and academic performance. It was confirmed that academic and family stress leads to depression among students, negatively affecting their academic performance and learning outcomes. This research provides valuable information to parents, educators, and other stakeholders concerned about their childrens' education and performance.

Introduction

Higher education institutions (HEIs) are believed to be one of the strongest pillars in the growth of any nation ( 1 ). Being the principal stakeholder, the performance of HEIs mainly relies on the success of its students ( 2 ). To successfully compete in the prevailing dynamic industrial environment, students are not only supposed to develop their knowledge but are also expected to have imperative skills and abilities ( 3 ). In the current highly competitive academic environment, students' performance is largely affected by several factors, such as social media, academic quality, family and social bonding, etc. ( 4 ). Aafreen et al. ( 2 ) stated that students continuously experience pressure from different sources during academic life, which ultimately causes stress among students.

Stress is a common factor that largely diminishes individual morale ( 5 ). It develops when a person cannot handle their inner and outer feelings. When the stress becomes chronic or exceeds a certain level, it affects an individual's mental health and may lead to different psychological disorders, such as depression ( 6 ). Depression is a worldwide illness marked by feelings of sadness and the inability to feel happy or satisfied ( 7 ). Nowadays, it is a common disorder, increasing day by day. According to the World Health Organization ( 8 , 9 ), depression was ranked third among the global burden of disease and predicted to take over first place by 2030.

Depression leads to decreased energy, difficulty thinking, concentrating, and making career decisions ( 6 ). Students are a pillar of the future in building an educated society. For them, academic achievement is a big goal of life and can severely be affected if the students fall prey to depression ( 10 , 11 ). There can be several reasons for this: family issues, exposure to a new lifestyle in colleges and universities, poor academic grades, favoritism by teachers, etc. Never-ending stress or academic pressure of studies can also be a chief reason leading to depression in students ( 12 ). There is a high occurrence of depression in emerging countries, and low mental health literacy has been theorized as one of the key causes of escalating rates of mental illness ( 13 ).

Several researchers, such as ( 6 , 14 , 15 ) have studied stress and depression elements from a performance perspective and reported that stress and depression negatively affect the academic performance of students. However, Aafreen et al. ( 2 ) reported contradictory results and stated that stress sharpens the individual's mind and reflexes and enables workers to perform better in taxing situations. Ardalan ( 16 ) conducted a study in the United States (US). They reported that depression is a common issue among students in the US, and 20 percent of them may have a depressive disorder spanning 12 months or more. It affects students' mental and physical health and limits their social relationships and professional career.

However, the current literature provides mixed results on the relationship between stress and performance. Therefore, the current research investigates stress among students from family and academic perspectives using Lazaru's theory which describes stress as a relation between an individual and his environment and examines how it impacts students' depression level, leading to their academic performance. Most of the available studies on stress and depression are from industrial perspectives, and limited attention is paid to stress from family and institutional perspectives and examines its impact on students' depression level, leading to their academic performance, particularly in Pakistan, the place of the study. Besides, the present study follows a multivariate statistical technique, followed by structural equation modeling (SEM) to examine the relationship between stated variables which is also a study's uniqueness.

This paper is divided into five main sections. The current section provided introduction, theoretical perspective, and background of the study. In the second section, a theoretical framework, a detailed literature review and research hypotheses of the underlying relationships are being proposed. In the third and fourth section, methodology and analysis have been discussed. Finally, in the last section, the conclusion, limitations, implications, and recommendations for future research have been proposed.

Theory and Literature

The idea of cognitive appraisal theory was presented in 1966 by psychologist Richard Lazarus in Psychological Stress and Coping Process. According to this theory, appraisal and coping are two concepts that are central to any psychological stress theory. Both are interrelated. According to the theory, stress is the disparity between stipulations placed on the individuals and their coping resources ( 17 ). Since its first introduction as a comprehensive theory ( 18 ), a few modifications have been experienced in theory later. The recent adaptation states that stress is not defined as a specific incitement or psychological, behavioral, or subjective response. Rather, stress is seen as a relation between an individual and his environment ( 19 ). Individuals appraise the environment as significant for their well-being and try to cope with the exceeding demands and challenges.

Cognitive appraisal is a model based on the idea that stress and other emotional processes depend on a person's expectancies regarding the significance and outcome of an event, encounter, or function. This explains why there are differences in intensity, duration, and quality of emotions elicited in people in response to the environment, which objectively, are equal for all ( 18 ). These appraisals may be influenced by various factors, including a person's goals, values, motivations, etc., and are divided into primary and secondary appraisals, specific patterns of which lead to different kinds of stress ( 20 ). On the other hand, coping is defined as the efforts made by a person to minimize, tolerate, or master the internal and external demands placed on them, a concept intimately related to cognitive appraisal and, therefore, to the stress-relevant person-environment transactions.

Individuals experience different mental and physiological changes when encountering pressure, such as stress ( 21 , 22 ). The feelings of stress can be either due to factors in the external environment or subjective emotions of individuals, which can even lead to psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression. Excess stress can cause health problems. A particularly negative impact has been seen in students due to the high level of stress they endure, affecting their learning outcomes. Various methods are used to tackle stress. One of the methods is trying to pinpoint the causes of stress, which leads us to different terms such as family stress and academic stress. The two factors, stress and depression, have greatly impacted the students' academic performances. This research follows the Lazarus theory based on stress to examine the variables. See the conceptual framework of the study in Figure 1 .

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Conceptual framework.

Academic Stress

Academic issues are thought to be the most prevalent source of stress for college students ( 23 ). For example, according to Yang et al. ( 24 ), students claimed that academic-related pressures such as ongoing study, writing papers, preparing for tests, and boring professors were the most important daily problems. Exams and test preparation, grade level competitiveness, and gaining a big quantity of knowledge in a short period of time all contribute to academic pressure. Perceived stress refers to a condition of physical or psychological arousal in reaction to stressors ( 25 , 26 ). When college students face excessive or negative stress, they suffer physical and psychological consequences. Excessive stress can cause health difficulties such as fatigue, loss of appetite, headaches, and gastrointestinal issues. Academic stress has been linked to a variety of negative effects, including ill health, anxiety, depression, and poor academic performance. Travis et al. ( 27 ), in particular, discovered strong links between academic stress and psychological and physical health.

Family Stress

Parental participation and learning effect how parents treat their children, as well as how they handle their children's habits and cognitive processes ( 28 ). This, in turn, shapes their children's performance and behaviors toward them. As a result, the parent-child relationship is dependent on the parents' attitudes, understanding, and perspectives. When parents have positive views, the relationship between them and their children will be considerably better than when they have negative attitudes. Parents respond to unpleasant emotions in a variety of ways, which can be classified as supportive or non-supportive ( 29 ). Parents' supportive reactions encourage children to explore their emotions by encouraging them to express them or by assisting them in understanding and coping with an emotion-eliciting scenario. Non-supportive behaviors, such as downplaying the kid's emotional experience, disciplining the child, or getting concerned by the child's display, transmit the child the message that expressing unpleasant emotions is inappropriate and unacceptable. Supportive parental reactions to unpleasant emotions in children have been linked to dimensions of emotional and social competence, such as emotion comprehension and friendship quality. Non-supportive or repressive parental reactions, on the other hand, have been connected to a child's stored negative affect and disordered behaviors during emotion-evoking events, probably due to an inability or unwillingness to communicate unpleasant sentiments ( 30 , 31 ).

Academic Stress and Students' Depression Levels

Generally, it is believed that mental health improves as we enter into adulthood, and depression disorder starts to decline between the age of 18 and 25. On the other hand, excessive depression rates are the highest pervasiveness during this evolution ( 15 ), and many university students in the particular screen above clinical cut-off scores for huge depression ( 14 , 32 ). Afreen et al. ( 2 ) stated that 30% of high school students experience depression from different perspectives. This means a major chunk of fresh high school graduates are more likely to confront depression or are more vulnerable to encountering depression while enrolling in the university. As the students promote to a higher level of education, there are many factors while calculating the stress like, for example, the syllabus is tough to comprehend, assignments are quite challenging with unrealistic deadlines, and accommodation problems for the students who are shifted from other cities, etc. ( 33 ). Experiences related to university can also contribute while studying depression. The important thing to consider is depression symptoms vary from time to time throughout the academic years ( 34 ); subjective and objective experiences are directly connected to the depression disorder ( 6 ), stress inherent in the university situation likely donates to the difference in university students' depressing experiences.

Stress negatively impacts students' mental peace, and 42.3% of students of Canadian university respondents testified devastating levels of anxiety and stress ( 35 , 36 ). Moreover, there were (58.1%) students who stated academic projects are too tough to handle for them. In Germany, Bulgaria, and Poland, a huge sample of respondents consider assignments a burden on their lives that cannot stand compared to relationships or any other concern in life ( 14 ).

In several countries, university students were studied concerning stress, and results show that depression disorder and apparent anxiety are correlated to educational needs and demands ( 37 ). In their cross-sectional study conducted on a sample of 900 Canadian students, Lörz et al. ( 38 ) concluded that strain confronted due to academic workload relatively has high bleak symptoms even after controlling 13 different risk affecting factors for depression (e.g., demographic features, abusive past, intellectual way, and personality, currently experienced stressful trials in life, societal support). Few have exhibited that students who are tired of educational workload or the students who name them traumatic tend to have more depressing disorders ( 15 ).

These relations can be described by examining the stress and coping behaviors that highlight the role of positive judgments in the stress times ( 39 ), containing the Pancer and colleagues' university modification framework ( 40 , 41 ). The evaluation concept includes examining the circumstances against the available resources, for instance, the effectiveness of coping behavior and societal support. As per these frameworks, if demand is considered unapproachable and resources are lacking, confronted stress and interrelated adverse effects will be high, conceivably giving birth to difficulties in an adjustment like mental instability. Stress triggering situations and the resources in the educational area led to excessive workload, abilities, and study and enhanced time managing skills.

Sketching the overall evaluation frameworks, Pancer et al. ( 40 ) established their framework to exhibit the constructive and damaging adjustment results for the university students dealing with the academic challenges. They stated that while students enroll in the university, they evaluate all the stress-related factors that students confront. They consider them manageable as long as they have sufficient resources. On the other hand, if the available resources do not match the stress factors, it will surely result in a negative relationship, which will lead students to experience depression for sure. Based on the given arguments, the researcher formulates the following hypothesis:

  • H1: Increased academic stress results in increased depression levels in students.

Family Stress and Students' Depression Levels

According to Topuzoglu et al. ( 42 ), 3% to 16.9% of individuals are affected by depression worldwide. There are fewer chances for general people to confront depression than university students ( 43 , 44 ). In Mirza et al.'s ( 45 ) study, 1/3 of students encounter stress and depression (a subjective mean occurrence of 30.6%) of all participant students, which suggests students have a 9% higher rate of experiencing depression than general people. Depression can destroy life; it greatly impacts living a balanced life. It can impact students' personal and social relationships, educational efficiency, quality of life, affecting their social and family relationships, academic productivity, and bodily operations ( 46 , 47 ). This declines their abilities, and they get demotivated to learn new things, resulting in unsatisfactory performances, and it can even result in university dropouts ( 48 ). Depression is a continuous substantial risk aspect for committing suicide for university students ( 49 ); thus, it is obliged to discover the factors that can give rise to students' depression.

Seventy-five percentage of students in China of an intermediate school are lucky enough to enroll in higher education. The more students pursue higher education, the more they upsurge for depression (in 2002, the depression rate was 5 to 10%, 2011 it rises 24 to 38%) ( 5 ). Generally, University students' age range is late teens to early twenties, i.e., 18–23 years. Abbas ( 50 ) named the era of university students as “post-adolescence. Risk factors for teenage depression have several and complicated problems of individual characteristics and family and educational life ( 51 ). Amongst the huge depression factors, relationship building with family demands a major chunk of attention and time since factors like parenting and family building play an important role in children's development ( 52 , 53 ). Halonen et al. ( 54 ) concluded that factors like family binding play a major role in development, preservation, and driving adolescent depression. Generally speaking, depressed teenagers tend to have a weaker family relationship with their parents than non-depressed teenagers.

There are two types of family risk factors, soft and hard. Hard factors are encountered in families with a weak family building structure, parents are little to no educated at all, and of course, the family status (economically). Several studies have proved that students of hard risk factors are more likely to encounter depression. Firstly, students from broken families have low confidence in every aspect of life, and they are weak at handling emotional breakdowns compared to students from complete and happy families ( 55 – 57 ). Secondly, the university students born in educated families, especially mothers (at least a college degree or higher degree), are less likely to confront depression than the university students born in families with little to no educated families. Secondly, children born with educated mothers or mothers who at least have a college degree tend to be less depressive than the children of less-educated mothers ( 58 ). However, Parker et al. and Mahmood et al. ( 59 , 60 ) stated a strong relationship between depression and mothers with low literacy levels.

On the other hand, Chang et al. ( 46 ) couldn't prove the authentication of this relationship in university students. Thirdly, university students who belong to lower class families tend to have more unstable mental states and are more likely to witness depression than middle or upper-class families ( 61 ). Jadoon et al. and Abbas et al. ( 62 , 63 ) said that there is no link between depression and economic status. Their irrelevance can be because medical students often come from educated and wealthy families and know their jobs are guaranteed as soon as they graduate. Therefore, the relationship between the hard family environment and depression can be known by targeting a huge audience, and there are several factors to consider while gauging this relationship.

The soft family environment is divided into clear factors (parenting style example, family guidelines, rules, the parent with academic knowledge, etc.) and implied factors (family norm, parent-child relationship, communication within the family, etc.). The soft factor is the key factor within the family that cannot be neglected while studying the teenagers' mental state or depression. Families make microsystems within the families, and families are the reason to build and maintain dysfunctional behavior by multiple functional procedures ( 64 ). Amongst the soft family environmental factors, consistency and struggles can be helpful while forecasting the mental health of teenagers. The youth of broken families, family conflict, weak family relationships, and marital issues, especially unhappy married life, are major factors for youth depression ( 65 ). Ruchkin et al. ( 66 ) stated that African Americans usually have weak family bonding, and their teenagers suffer from depression even when controlling for source bias. Whereas, few researchers have stated, family unity is the most serious factor while foreseeing teenagers' depression. Eaton noted that extreme broken family expressions might hurt emotionality and emotional regulation ( 67 , 68 ).

Social circle is also considered while studying depression in teenagers ( 69 – 71 ). The traditional Pakistani culture emphasizes collectivism and peace and focuses on blood relations and sensitive sentiments. Adolescents with this type of culture opt to get inspired by family, but students who live in hostels or share the room with other students lose this family inspiration. This transformation can be a big risk to encounter depression ( 72 ). Furthermore, in Pakistan securing employment is a big concern for university students. If they want a good job in the future, they have to score good grades and maintain GPA from the beginning. They have to face different challenges all at once, like aggressive educational competition, relationships with peers and family, and of course the biggest employment stress all alone. The only source for coping with these pressures is the family that can be helpful for fundings. If the students do not get ample support the chances are of extreme depression. The following hypothesis is suggested:

  • H2: Increased family stress level results in increased depression levels in students.

Students' Depression Levels and Students' Academic Performance

University students denote many people experiencing a crucial conversion from teenagers to adulthood: a time that is generally considered the most traumatic time in one's ( 73 ). This then gets accumulated with other challenges like changes in social circle and exams tension, which possibly puts students' mental health at stake. It has been concluded that one-third of students experience moderate to severe depression in their entire student life ( 74 ). This is the rate that can be increased compared to the general people ( 75 , 76 ). Students with limited social-class resources tend to be more helpless. Additionally, depressed students in attainable-focused environments (for instance, higher academic institutes) are likely to score lower grades with a sense of failure and more insufficient self-assurance because they consider themselves failures, find the world unfair, and have future uncertainties. Furthermore, students with low self-esteem are rigid to take on challenging assignments and projects, hence they are damaging their educational career ( 77 ).

Depression can be defined as a blend of physical, mental, bodily processes, and benightedness which can make themselves obvious by symptoms like, for example, poor sleep schedule, lack of concentration, ill thoughts, and state of remorse ( 78 , 79 ). But, even after such a huge number of depressions in students and the poor academic system, research has not explored the effect of depression on educational performance. A study has shown that the relationship between emotional stability and academic performance in university students and financial status directly results in poor exam performance. As the study further concluded, it was verified depression is an independent factor ( 80 ). Likewise, students suffering from depression score poor grades, but this relationship vanished if their depression got treated. Apart from confidence breaking, depression is a big failure for their academic life. Students with depression symptoms bunk more classes, assessments, and assignments. They drop courses if they find them challenging than non-depressed peers, and they are more likely to drop out of university completely ( 81 ). Students suffering from depression can become ruthless, ultimately affecting their educational performance and making them moody ( 82 ).

However, it has been stated that the association between anxiety and educational performance is even worse and ambiguous. At the same time, some comprehensive research has noted that the greater the anxiousness, the greater the student's performance. On the other hand, few types of research have shown results where there is no apparent relationship between anxiety and poorer academic grades ( 83 ). Ironically, few studies have proposed that a higher anxiety level may improve academic performance ( 84 , 85 ). Current research by Khan et al. ( 86 ) on the undergraduate medical students stated that even though the high occurrence of huge depression between the students, the students GPA is unharmed. Therefore, based on given differences in various research findings, this research is supposed to find a more specific and clear answer to the shared relationship between students' depression levels and academic performance. Based on the given arguments, the researcher formulates the following hypothesis:

  • H3: Students' depression level has a significant negative effect on their academic performance.

Methodology

Target population and sampling procedure.

The target audience of this study contains all male and female students studying in the public, private, or semi-government higher education institutions located in Rawalpindi/Islamabad. The researchers collected data from undergraduate and postgraduate students from the management sciences, engineering, and computer science departments. The sampling technique which has been used is the non-probability sampling technique. A questionnaire was given to the students, and they were requested to fill it and give their opinion independently. The questionnaire is based on five points Likert scale.

However, stress and depression are the most common issue among the students, which affects their learning outcomes adversely. A non-probability sampling technique gathered the data from February 2020 to May 2020. The total questionnaires distributed among students were 220, and 186 responses were useful. Of which 119 respondents were females, 66 males, and 1 preferred not to disclose. See Table 1 for detailed demographic information of respondents.

Respondent's demographic profile.

Measurement Scales

We have divided this instrument into two portions. In the first section, there is demographic information of respondents. The second section includes 14 items based on family stress, academic stress, students' depression levels, and students' academic performance. Academic and family stress were measured by 3 item scale for each construct, and students' depression level and academic performance were measured by 4 item scale for each separate construct. The five-point Likert scale is used to measure the items, in which one signifies strongly disagree (S.D), second signifies disagree (D.A), third signifies neither agree nor disagree (N), fourth signifies agree (A.G), and the fifth signifies strongly agree (S.A). The questionnaire has been taken from Gold Berg ( 87 ), which is modified and used in the given questionnaire.

Data Analysis and Results

The researchers used the SEM technique to determine the correlation between stress, depression, and academic performance. According to Prajogo and Cooper ( 88 ), it can remove biased effects triggered by the measurement faults and shape a hierarchy of latent constructs. SPSS v.23 and AMOS v.23 have been used to analyze the collected data. Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin test is used to test the competence of the sample. The value obtained is 0.868, which fulfills the Kaiser et al. ( 89 ), a minimum requirement of 0.6. The multicollinearity factor was analyzed through the variance inflation factor (VIF). It shows the value of 3.648 and meets the requirement of Hair et al. ( 90 ), which is < 4. It also indicates the absence of multicollinearity. According to Schwarz et al. ( 91 ), common method bias (CMB) is quite complex in quantitative studies. Harman's test of a single factor has been used to analyze CMB. The result obtained for the single factor is 38.63%. As stated by Podsakoff et al. ( 92 ), if any of the factors gives value < 50% of the total variance, it is adequate and does not influence the CMB. Therefore, we can say that there is no issue with CMB. Considering the above results are adequate among the measurement and structural model, we ensure that the data is valued enough to analyze the relation.

Assessment of the Measurement and Structural Model

The association between the manifest factors and their elements is examined by measuring model and verified by the Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA). CFA guarantees legitimacy and the unidimensional of the measurement model ( 93 ). Peterson ( 94 ) stated that the least required, i.e., 0.8 for the measurement model, fully complies with its Cronbach's alpha value, i.e., 0.802. Therefore, it can confidently be deduced that this measurement model holds satisfactory reliability. As for the psychological legitimacy can be analyzed through factor loading, where the ideal loading is above 0.6 for already established items ( 95 ). Also, according to the recommendation of Molina et al. ( 96 ), the minimum value of the average variance extracted (AVE) for all results is supposed to be >0.5. Table 2 gives detail of the variables and their quantity of things, factor loading, merged consistency, and AVE values.

Instrument reliability and validity.

A discriminant validity test was performed to ensure the empirical difference of all constructs. For this, it was proposed by Fornell and Larcker ( 97 ) that the variance of the results is supposed to be greater than other constructs. The second indicator of discriminant validity is that the square root values of AVE have a greater correlation between the two indicators. Hair et al. ( 90 ) suggested that the correlation between the pair of predictor variables should not be higher than 0.9. Table 3 shows that discriminant validity recommended by Hair et al. ( 90 ) and Fornell and Larcker ( 97 ) was proved clearly that both conditions are fulfilled and indicates that the constructs have adequate discriminant validity.

Discriminant validity analysis.

Acd. Strs, Academic Stress; Fam. Strs, Family Stress; Std. Dep. Lev, Student's Depression Level; Std. Acd. Perf, Student's Academic Performance .

Kaynak ( 98 ) described seven indicators that ensure that the measurement model fits correctly. These indicators include standardized root mean squared residual (SRMR), root means a square error of approximation (RMSEA), comparative fit index (CFI), normative fit index (NFI), adjusted goodness of fit index (AGFI), the goodness of fit index (GFI) and chi-square to a degree of freedom (x 2 /DF). Tucker-Lewis's index (TLI) is also included to ensure the measurement and structural model's fitness. In the measurement model, the obtained result shows that the value of x 2 /DF is 1.898, which should be lower than 2 suggested by Byrne ( 99 ), and this value also meets the requirement of Bagozzi and Yi ( 100 ), i.e., <3. The RMSEA has the value 0.049, which fully meets the requirement of 0.08, as stated by Browne and Cudeck ( 101 ). Furthermore, the SRMR acquired value is 0.0596, which assemble with the required need of < 0.1 by Hu and Bentler ( 102 ). Moreover, according to Bentler and Bonett ( 103 ), McDonald and Marsh ( 104 ), and Bagozzi and Yi ( 100 ), the ideal value is 0.9, and the values obtained from NFI, GFI, AGFI, CFI, and TLI are above the ideal value.

Afterward, the structural model was analyzed and achieved the findings, which give the value of x 2 /DF 1.986. According to Browne and Cudeck ( 101 ), the RMSEA value should not be greater than 0.08, and the obtained value of RMSEA is 0.052, which meets the requirement perfectly. The minimum requirement of Hu and Bentler ( 102 ) should be <0.1, for the structural model fully complies with the SRMR value 0.0616. According to a recommendation of McDonald and Marsh ( 104 ) and Bagozzi and Yi ( 100 ), the ideal value must be up to 0.9, and Table 4 also shows that the values of NFI, GFI, AGFI, CFI, and TLI, which are above than the ideal value and meets the requirement. The above results show that both the measurement and structural models are ideally satisfied with the requirements and the collected data fits correctly.

Analysis of measurement and structural model.

Testing of Hypotheses

The SEM technique is used to examine the hypotheses. Each structural parameter goes along with the hypothesis. The academic stress (Acd. Strs) with the value β = 0.293 while the p -value is 0.003. These outcomes show a significant positive relationship between academic stress (Acd. Strs) and students' depression levels (Std. Dep. Lev). With the β = 0.358 and p = 0.001 values, the data analysis discloses that the family stress (Fam. Strs) has a significant positive effect on the students' depression level (Std. Dep. Lev). However, the student's depression level (Std. Dep. Lev) also has a significant negative effect on their academic performance (Std. Acd. Perf) with the values of β = −0.319 and p = 0.001. Therefore, the results supported the following hypotheses H 1 , H 2 , and H 3 . The sub-hypotheses analysis shows that the results are statistically significant and accepted. In Table 5 , the details of the sub-hypotheses and the principals are explained precisely. Please see Table 6 to review items with their mean and standard deviation values. Moreover, Figure 2 represents the structural model.

Examining the hypotheses.

Description of items, mean, and standard deviation.

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Structural model.

Discussion and Conclusion

These findings add to our knowledge of how teenage depression is predicted by academic and familial stress, leading to poor academic performance, and they have practical implications for preventative and intervention programs to safeguard adolescents' mental health in the school context. The outcomes imply that extended academic stress positively impacts students' depression levels with a β of 0.293 and a p -value sof 0.003. However, according to Wang et al. ( 5 ), a higher level of academic stress is linked to a larger level of school burnout, which leads to a higher degree of depression. Satinsky et al. ( 105 ) also claimed that university officials and mental health specialists have expressed worry about depression and anxiety among Ph.D. students, and that his research indicated that depression and anxiety are quite common among Ph.D. students. Deb et al. ( 106 ) found the same results and concluded that depression, anxiety, behavioral difficulties, irritability, and other issues are common among students who are under a lot of academic stress. Similarly, Kokou-Kpolou et al. ( 107 ) revealed that depressive symptoms are common among university students in France. They also demonstrate that socioeconomic and demographic characteristics have a role.

However, Wang et al. ( 5 ) asserted that a higher level of academic stress is associated with a higher level of school burnout, which in return, leads to a higher level of depression. Furthermore, Satinsky et al. ( 105 ) also reported that university administrators and mental health clinicians have raised concerns about depression and anxiety and concluded in his research that depression and anxiety are highly prevalent among Ph.D. students. Deb et al. ( 106 ) also reported the same results and concluded that Depression, anxiety, behavioral problems, irritability, etc. are few of the many problems reported in students with high academic stress. Similary, Kokou-Kpolou et al. ( 107 ) confirmed that university students in France have a high prevalence of depressive symptoms. They also confirm that socio-demographic factors and perceived stress play a predictive role in depressive symptoms among university students. As a result, academic stress has spread across all countries, civilizations, and ethnic groups. Academic stress continues to be a serious problem impacting a student's mental health and well-being, according to the findings of this study.

With the β= 0.358 and p = 0.001 values, the data analysis discloses that the family stress (Fam. Strs) has a significant positive effect on the students' depression level (Std. Dep. Lev). Aleksic ( 108 ) observed similar findings and concluded that many and complicated concerns of personal traits, as well as both home and school contexts, are risk factors for teenage depression. Similarly, Wang et al. ( 109 ) indicated that, among the possible risk factors for depression, family relationships need special consideration since elements like parenting styles and family dynamics influence how children grow. Family variables influence the onset, maintenance, and course of juvenile depression, according to another study ( 110 ). Depressed adolescents are more likely than normal teenagers to have bad family and parent–child connections.

Conversely, students' depression level has a significantly negative impact on their academic performance with β and p -values of −0.319 and 0.001. According ( 111 ), anxiety and melancholy have a negative influence on a student's academic performance. Adolescents and young adults suffer from depression, which is a common and dangerous mental illness. It's linked to an increase in family issues, school failure, especially among teenagers, suicide, drug addiction, and absenteeism. While the transition to adulthood is a high-risk period for depression in general ( 5 ), young people starting college may face extra social and intellectual challenges that increase their risk of melancholy, anxiety, and stress ( 112 ). Students' high rates of depression, anxiety, and stress have serious consequences. Not only may psychological morbidity have a negative impact on a student's academic performance and quality of life, but it may also disturb family and institutional life ( 107 ). Therefore, long-term untreated depression, anxiety, or stress can have a negative influence on people's ability to operate and produce, posing a public health risk ( 113 ).

Theoretical Implications

The current study makes various contributions to the existing literature on servant leadership. Firstly, it enriches the limited literature on the role of family and academic stress and their impact on students' depression levels. Although, a few studies have investigated stress and depression and its impact on Students' academic performance ( 14 , 114 ), however, their background i.e., family and institutions are largely ignored.

Secondly, it explains how the depression level impacts students' academic learning, specifically in the Asian developing countries region. Though a substantial body of empirical research has been produced in the last decade on the relationship between students' depression levels and its impact on their academic achievements, however, the studies conducted in the Pakistani context are scarce ( 111 , 115 ). Thus, this study adds further evidence to prior studies conducted in different cultural contexts and validates the assumption that family and academic stress are key sources depression and anxiety among students which can lead toward their low academic grades and their overall performance.

This argument is in line with our proposed theory in the current research i.e., cognitive appraisal theory which was presented in 1966 by psychologist Richard Lazarus. Lazarus's theory is called the appraisal theory of stress, or the transactional theory of stress because the way a person appraises the situation affects how they feel about it and consequently it's going to affect his overall quality of life. In line with the theory, it suggests that events are not good or bad, but the way we think about them is positive or negative, and therefore has an impact on our stress levels.

Practical Implications

According to the findings of this study, high levels of depressive symptoms among college students should be brought to the attention of relevant departments. To prevent college student depression, relevant departments should improve the study and life environment for students, try to reduce the generation of negative life events, provide adequate social support for students, and improve their cognitive and coping capacities to improve their mental qualities.

Stress and depression, on the other hand, may be managed with good therapy, teacher direction, and family support. The outcomes of this study provide an opportunity for academic institutions to address students' psychological well-being and requirements. Emotional well-being support services for students at Pakistan's higher education institutions are lacking in many of these institutions, which place a low priority on the psychological requirements of these students. As a result, initiatives that consistently monitor and enhance kids' mental health are critical. Furthermore, stress-reduction treatments such as biofeedback, yoga, life-skills training, mindfulness meditation, and psychotherapy have been demonstrated to be useful among students. Professionals in the sector would be able to adapt interventions for pupils by understanding the sources from many spheres.

Counseling clinics should be established at colleges to teach students about stress and sadness. Counselors should instill in pupils the importance of positive conduct and decision-making. The administration of the school should work to create a good and safe atmosphere. Furthermore, teachers should assume responsibility for assisting and guiding sad pupils, since this will aid in their learning and performance. Support from family members might also help you get through difficult times.

Furthermore, these findings support the importance of the home environment as a source of depression risk factors among university students, implying that family-based treatments and improvements are critical in reducing depression among university students.

Limitations and Future Research Implications

The current study has a few limitations. The researcher gathered data from the higher education level of university students studying in Islamabad and Rawalpindi institutions. In the future, researchers are required to widen their region and gather information from other cities of Pakistan, for instance, Lahore, Karachi, etc. Another weakness of the study is that it is cross-sectional in nature. We need to do longitudinal research in the future to authoritatively assert the cause-and-effect link between academic and familial stress and their effects on students' academic performance since cross-sectional studies cannot establish significant cause and effect relationships. Finally, the study's relatively small sample size is a significant weakness. Due to time and budget constraints, it appears that the capacity to perform in-depth research of all firms in Pakistan's pharmaceutical business has been limited. Even though the findings are substantial and meaningful, the small sample size is predicted to limit generalizability and statistical power. This problem can be properly solved by increasing the size of the sample by the researchers, in future researches.

Data Availability Statement

Ethics statement.

Ethical review and approval was not required for the study on human participants in accordance with the local legislation and institutional requirements. Written informed consent for participation was not required for this study in accordance with the national legislation and the institutional requirements.

Author Contributions

All authors contributed to conceptualization, formal analysis, investigation, methodology, writing and editing of the original draft, and read and agreed to the published version of the manuscript.

This work was funded by the 2020 Heilongjiang Province Philosophy and Social Science Research Planning Project on Civic and Political Science in Universities (Grant No. 20SZB01). This work is supported by the Scientific Grant Agency of the Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport of the Slovak Republic and the Slovak Academy Sciences as part of the research project VEGA 1/0797/20: Quantification of Environmental Burden Impacts of the Slovak Regions on Health, Social and Economic System of the Slovak Republic.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.

Publisher's Note

All claims expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of their affiliated organizations, or those of the publisher, the editors and the reviewers. Any product that may be evaluated in this article, or claim that may be made by its manufacturer, is not guaranteed or endorsed by the publisher.

Acknowledgments

Authors would like to thank all persons who directly or indirectly participated in the completion of this manuscript.

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Stress literally eats away at your brain’s cognitive reserve

SOLNA, Sweden —  It’s no secret that stress can have a negative effect on the human body. However, a new study is revealing just how dangerous stress can be for the human brain. Publishing their work in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association , Swedish researchers say stress can actually chip away at your brain’s cognitive defenses — putting you at higher risk for dementia.

The findings, in a nutshell

This groundbreaking study from Karolinska Institutet has uncovered a fascinating interplay between our daily activities and cognitive health. Researchers have long believed that engaging in mentally stimulating activities, like going to college, tackling complex jobs, staying physically active, and maintaining a rich social life, can help build a “ cognitive reserve .”

This reserve acts as a mental buffer, potentially protecting our brains from the symptoms of dementia, even when physical signs of the disease are present. However, this new research adds a critical twist to our understanding: stress . While these brain-boosting activities can enhance cognition in memory clinic patients, high or persistent stress levels can undermine these benefits.

It’s as if stress acts as a cognitive thief, robbing us of the mental resilience we’ve worked hard to build. This finding is particularly significant as stress is known to reduce social interactions, hinder our ability to engage in leisure activities, and even increase the risk of dementia.

“Different stress management strategies could be a good complement to existing lifestyle interventions in Alzheimer’s prevention,” says the study’s lead author Manasa Shanta Yerramalla, a researcher in the Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society at the Karolinska Institutet, in a media release.

stressed man at his job in black suit

How did researchers make this discovery?

The journey to this discovery began in the late 1980s when researchers made a puzzling observation. Some individuals who showed no apparent symptoms of dementia during their lifetime had brain changes consistent with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. This led to a new line of dementia-related questioning: If their brains showed signs of the disease, why weren’t they experiencing symptoms?

The investigation led to the concept of “cognitive reserve” — the idea that certain life experiences and behaviors can build up a mental resilience that protects against cognitive decline. Think of it like building a strong, multi-layered fortress in your brain. Each mentally stimulating activity — whether it’s studying for a degree, solving complex problems at work, or engaging in lively discussions with friends — adds another layer of protection. Even if Alzheimer’s disease starts to breach the outer walls, the inner layers can help maintain normal cognitive function.

Fast forward to today, and researchers at Karolinska Institutet decided to dig deeper. They gathered 113 participants from the memory clinic at Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden. Their goal was to examine how cognitive reserve relates to cognition and biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease . However, they added a unique twist to their study. The team also looked at how stress might affect this relationship.

Yerramalla’s team measured two types of stress: physiological stress (using cortisol levels in saliva) and psychological stress (how stressed participants felt). Cortisol is often called the “stress hormone” because its levels rise when we’re under pressure. Think of cortisol as your body’s built-in alarm system. The results show that while greater cognitive reserve did improve cognition, as expected, higher cortisol levels seemed to weaken this beneficial relationship. It’s as if stress was slowly eroding the protective layers of their mental fortress .

This discovery opens up exciting new avenues for Alzheimer’s prevention. The researchers suggest that stress-reducing techniques like mindfulness exercises and meditation, which can lower cortisol levels, might be a powerful addition to existing lifestyle interventions. Just as we build our cognitive reserve through mental workouts, we might also need to incorporate stress management to maintain our brain’s defenses.

The team notes that since stress disrupts sleep, which then disrupts cognition, this study did factor in the use of sleep medications by the participants. However, there is still more work to do to identify how exactly poor sleep damages the cognitive reserve.

“These results might have clinical implications as an expanding body of research suggests that mindfulness exercises and meditation may reduce cortisol levels and improve cognition,” Dr. Yerramalla, adds. “We will continue to study the association between stress and sleeping disorders and how it affects the cognitive reserve in memory clinic patients.”

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PTSD Has Surged Among College Students

The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among college students rose to 7.5 percent in 2022, more than double the rate five years earlier, researchers found.

A view of a campus quad with a student walking along a path wearing a face mask. A flag at half-mast and a white tent are in the background.

By Ellen Barry

Post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses among college students more than doubled between 2017 and 2022, climbing most sharply as the coronavirus pandemic shut down campuses and upended young adults’ lives, according to new research published on Thursday.

The prevalence of PTSD rose to 7.5 percent from 3.4 percent during that period, according to the findings . Researchers analyzed responses from more than 390,000 participants in the Healthy Minds Study, an annual web-based survey.

“The magnitude of this rise is indeed shocking,” said Yusen Zhai, the paper’s lead author, who heads the community counseling clinic at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His clinic had seen more young people struggling in the aftermath of traumatic events. So he expected an increase, but not such a large one.

Dr. Zhai, an assistant professor in the Department of Human Studies, attributed the rise to “broader societal stressors” on college students, such as campus shootings, social unrest and the sudden loss of loved ones from the coronavirus.

PTSD is a mental health disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts, flashbacks and heightened sensitivity to reminders of an event, continuing more than a month after it occurs.

It is a relatively common disorder , with an estimated 5 percent of adults in the United States experiencing it in any given year, according to the most recent epidemiological survey conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services. Lifetime prevalence is 8 percent in women and 4 percent in men, the survey found.

The new research also found a sharp rise in the prevalence of a similar condition, acute stress disorder, which is diagnosed less than a month after a trauma. Diagnoses rose to 0.7 percent among college students in 2022, up from 0.2 percent five years earlier.

Use of mental health care increased nationally during the pandemic, as teletherapy made it far easier to see clinicians. Treatment for anxiety disorders increased most steeply, followed by PTSD, bipolar disorder and depression, according to economists who analyzed more than 1.5 million insurance claims for clinician visits between 2020 and 2022.

PTSD was introduced as an official diagnosis in 1980, as it became clear that combat experiences had imprinted on many Vietnam veterans, making it difficult for them to work or participate in family life. Over the decades that followed, the definition was revised to encompass a larger range of injury, violence and abuse, as well as indirect exposure to traumatic events.

However, the diagnosis still requires exposure to a Criterion A trauma, defined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as “death, threatened death, actual or threatened serious injury, or actual or threatened sexual violence.”

It is not uncommon for young adults to experience traumatic events. A 1996 study of Detroit residents found that exposure to traumatic events — such as violent assaults, injuries or unexpected death — peaked sharply between the ages of 16 and 20. It then declined precipitously after age 20.

Research suggests that less than one-third of people exposed to traumatic events go on to develop PTSD.

Shannon E. Cusack, an academic researcher who has studied PTSD in college students, said there was division within the field about whether the profound disruptions that young adults experienced during the pandemic — abrupt loss of housing and income, social isolation and fear about infections — amount to triggering events.

“They’re causing symptoms that are consistent with the PTSD diagnosis,” said Dr. Cusack, a clinical psychologist and an assistant professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University. “Am I not going to treat them because their stressor doesn’t count as a trauma?”

The prevalence data, she said, points to a pressing need for PTSD treatment on college campuses. Short-term treatments developed for veterans, such as prolonged exposure therapy and cognitive processing therapy, have proved effective in managing PTSD symptoms.

Stephen P. Hinshaw, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, said that the disruptions of the pandemic might have left college students emotionally depleted and less resilient when faced with traumatic events.

“Midway through this study, there may have been legitimately more trauma and death,” he said, adding that the lockdowns may have caused more general despair among young people. “With the general mental health deterioration, is it harder to cope with traumatic stressors if you do get exposed to them?”

Some changes to the diagnostic manual may have blurred the line between PTSD and disorders like depression or anxiety, Dr. Hinshaw said. In 2013, the committee overseeing revisions to the manual expanded the list of potential PTSD symptoms to include dysphoria, or a deep sense of unease, and a negative worldview, which could also be caused by depression, he said. But the changes, he added, do not account for the sharp increase in diagnoses.

Ellen Barry is a reporter covering mental health for The Times. More about Ellen Barry

Understand Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Psychedelic Drugs: As the F.D.A. weighs whether to approve the use of MDMA for treatment  of post-traumatic stress disorder, an advisory panel overwhelmingly decided against endorsing it .

College Students: PTSD diagnoses among college students more than doubled between 2017 and 2022 , climbing most sharply as the coronavirus pandemic shut down campuses, according to new research.

Falling Short: The treatments for PTSD — including several forms of psychotherapy and medication — are effective for many patients, but they don’t work for everyone .

E.M.D.R.: The once-experimental trauma treatment might look bizarre, but some clinicians say it’s highly effective against PTSD. Here’s how the therapy works .

Removing the Stigma: Misconceptions about how PTSD develops and its symptoms can prevent people from seeking treatment .

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stress homework study

Self-perceptions of aging and stress have significant impact on physical health, OSU study finds

  • February 4, 2022

stress homework study

But dwelling on negative aspects of aging can have a measurable negative impact on your physical health and ability to respond to stress, a recent study from Oregon State University found.

Using daily survey data from older adults over a period of 100 days, OSU researchers found that people who reported more positive self-perceptions of aging were more insulated from the physical effects of stress compared with people who felt more negatively about their own aging.

“Better self-perceptions of aging are good for your health, regardless of how much stress you have, or how much stress you perceive you have,” said Dakota Witzel, lead author on the paper and a doctoral candidate in OSU’s  College of Public Health and Human Sciences .

The study was published in the  Journals of Gerontology , Series B, Psychological Sciences.

Research on stress has long found that daily and chronic stress are linked to physical health symptoms, including higher blood pressure, heart disease and loss of cognitive function. These effects are linked not just to objective stress, but to perceived stress: people’s subjective appraisal of an experience as stressful.

Using responses from 105 Oregon adults ages 52 to 88 who took part in daily online surveys in 2010 via OSU’s Personal Understanding of Life and Social Experiences (PULSE) study, researchers measured participants’ perceived stress and physical health over a period of 100 days, along with an initial set of questions to gauge their self-perceptions of aging.

The questions asked participants to agree or disagree with statements like “Today, I felt difficulties were piling up so high I could not overcome them,” and “As you get older, you are less useful.”

On average, higher perceived stress was related to worse self-perceptions of aging and worse physical health symptoms, while more positive self-perceptions of aging were related to fewer health symptoms.

On days when individuals with more negative self-perceptions of aging reported more stress than normal, they reported almost three times more physical health symptoms than individuals with more positive self-perceptions of aging. In other words, positive self-perceptions of aging had a protective effect against the physical health implications of stress.

This means that thought patterns or conversations that reinforce or exaggerate various stereotypes of aging physically impact people’s lives, Witzel said.

“These things are truly important for our health and well-being, not only long-term, but in our day-to-day life,” she said. “The likelihood of reporting these physical health symptoms is significantly decreased, on average, when you have better self-perceptions of aging.”

Self-perception of aging is an area where simple interventions can make a difference, Witzel said. An easy step is to acknowledge that putting a positive spin on the aging process will have a real impact on your physical health.

That doesn’t mean adults should dismiss real health concerns or plaster on a fake smile, she said, but they will see benefits if they consciously work to be more positive about aging.

“It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy,” Witzel said.

Everyone should create positive images of themselves in the future as older adults, said Karen Hooker, co-author on the study and a professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences. This will help counterbalance the “feared selves” that are so often perpetuated in negative stereotypes of aging with more positive “hoped-for” possible selves, she said.

“Our self-perceptions of aging could be a modifiable resilience factor shaping our physical and mental health in later life,” she said.

The researchers noted that the study was limited in its sample population; the respondents to the PULSE survey were predominantly white, female and well-educated.

Public health doctoral student Shelbie Turner was also a co-author on the study. The PULSE project from which survey data was drawn was funded by OSU’s Center for Healthy Aging Research.

About the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences:  The first accredited college of public health in Oregon, the college creates connections in teaching, research and community outreach while advancing knowledge, policies and practices that improve population health in communities across the state and beyond.

Original post 

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Watch CBS News

Why "stress bragging" can annoy your co-workers and hurt your career

By Megan Cerullo

Edited By Alain Sherter

May 28, 2024 / 3:13 PM EDT / CBS News

Constantly announcing to co-workers how swamped you are at the office isn't likely to impress your colleagues — in fact, it may have the opposite effect, new research shows. 

"Stress bragging" or "busy bragging" about your overflowing plate often leads to resentment from peers, a  study  from the University of Georgia (UGA) shows. It also tends to make boasters appear less competent at their job, the researchers found.

"This is a behavior we've all seen, and we all might be guilty of at some point," Jessica Rodell, a professor of management at UGA's Terry College of Business and the study's lead author, told UGA Today , an online newspaper geared to the university. "When I was wondering about why people do this, I thought maybe we are talking about our stress because we want to prove we're good enough. We found out that often backfires."

Despite the adage, "If you want something done, ask a busy person" (variously attributed to Benjamin Franklin or writer Elbert Hubbard), the findings suggest that harping on about your busy schedule is unlikely to engender much in the way of good will at work. 

To assess such attitudes, the UGA researchers asked hundreds of subjects to rate a fictitious co-worker who made statements about an imaginary conference, including that it was "just one more thing on my full plate. And I was already stressed to the max…you have no idea the stress that I am under." 

Study respondents said they found that type of individual to be less likable and less competent than a colleague who simply said work had been stressful or, alternatively, who had positive things to say about the conference. Participants also said they wouldn't be inclined to lend a complaining coworker a helping hand. Researchers also studied real-life workplace braggarts and found their colleagues often perceived them negatively. 

"People are harming themselves by doing this thing they think is going to make them look better to their colleagues," Rodell said.

No badge of honor

Meanwhile, "stress bragging" perpetuates an unhealthy notion, according to the study's authors — that work should be stressful, and by extension anyone who isn't sweating their job isn't cutting the mustard.

"When somebody is constantly talking about and bragging about their stress, it makes it seem like it is a good thing to be stressed," Rodell told UGA Today . "It just spills over onto the co-worker next to them. They wind up feeling more stressed, which leads to higher burnout or withdrawal from their work. Think of it as this spiraling contagious effect from one person to the next."

Of course, all workers may experience stress of one kind or another, and the study doesn't suggest that people should mask their emotions. And co-workers who were perceived as being genuinely busy didn't invite ill will, the research found.

"If you genuinely feel stressed, it's OK to find the right confidant to share with and talk about it," she said. "But be mindful that it is not a badge of honor to be bragged about — that will backfire," Rodell said. 

Megan Cerullo is a New York-based reporter for CBS MoneyWatch covering small business, workplace, health care, consumer spending and personal finance topics. She regularly appears on CBS News 24/7 to discuss her reporting.

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    As homework load increased, so did family stress, the researchers found (American Journal of Family Therapy, 2015). ... On the positive side, students who spent more time on homework in that study did report being more behaviorally engaged in school — for instance, giving more effort and paying more attention in class, Galloway says. ...

  3. Addressing Student Mental Health Through the Lens of Homework Stress

    Keywords: homework, stress, mental health The outcomes of adolescent mental health is a threat to students' health and wellbeing, more so than it ever has been in the modern era. As of 2019, the CDC reported a nearly 40. percent increase in feelings of sadness or hopelessness over the last ten years, and similar.

  4. Does Homework Really Help Students Learn?

    Studies show that homework improves student achievement in terms of improved grades, test results, and the likelihood to attend college. ... There is no value to homework all it does is add stress to already stressed homes. Parents or adults magically having the time or energy to shepherd kids through homework is dome sort of 1950's fantasy.

  5. (PDF) Investigating the Effects of Homework on Student ...

    Homework has long been a topic of social research, but rela-tively few studies have focused on the teacher's role in the homework process. Most research examines what students do, and whether and ...

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  7. Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in

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  8. Full article: The impact of stress on students in secondary school and

    This study demonstrates the importance of protective social factors in mediating the effects of academic-related stress. In a cross-sectional study of tertiary nursing students from the United States, those with higher self-reported stress had higher incidence of substance use. ... homework and tests has a negative impact on students ...

  9. Is it time to get rid of homework? Mental health experts weigh in

    Emmy Kang, mental health counselor at Humantold, says studies have shown heavy workloads can be "detrimental" for students and cause a "big impact on their mental, physical and emotional health ...

  10. How much homework (and stress) is helpful? (opinion)

    But when " stress is seen as a challenge rather than a threat," research has found it can help "students score higher on tests, procrastinate less, stay enrolled in classes, and respond to academic challenges in a healthier way.". Moreover, more time spent on academic work translates into higher retention and graduation rates.

  11. Should We Get Rid of Homework?

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  13. Homework Wars: High School Workloads, Student Stress, and How Parents

    Studies of typical homework loads vary: In one, a Stanford researcher found that more than two hours of homework a night may be counterproductive.The research, conducted among students from 10 high-performing high schools in upper-middle-class California communities, found that too much homework resulted in stress, physical health problems and a general lack of balance.

  14. Does Homework Cause Stress? Exploring the Impact on Students' Mental

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  15. Homework Stress: Construct Validation of a Measure

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  16. School Stress Takes A Toll On Health, Teens And Parents Say

    In most cases, that stress is from academics, not social issues or bullying, the poll found. (See the full results here .) Homework was a leading cause of stress, with 24 percent of parents saying ...

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    Nearly half (49%) of all students reported feeling a great deal of stress on a daily basis and 31 percent reported feeling somewhat stressed. Females reported significantly higher levels of stress than males (60% vs. 41%). Grades, homework, and preparing for college were the greatest sources of stress for both genders.

  18. PDF Homework Stress: Construct Validation of a Measure

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  23. PTSD Has Surged Among College Students

    The prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder among college students rose to 7.5 percent in 2022, more than double the rate five years earlier, researchers found. ... A 1996 study of Detroit ...

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  27. Self-perceptions of aging and stress have significant impact on

    The study was published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B, Psychological Sciences. Research on stress has long found that daily and chronic stress are linked to physical health symptoms, including higher blood pressure, heart disease and loss of cognitive function. These effects are linked not just to objective stress, but to perceived ...

  28. Why "stress bragging" can annoy your co-workers and hurt your career

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