Address for Correspondence: Megha S Rao, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, M.E.S College of Arts, Commerce & Science.
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Rao S, V. S. Academic stress among 10th standard students during COVID- 19 Lockdown period. Journal of Mental Health Education. 2021;3(1)11-18
Aim: To understand the level of academic stress among 10th standard students who were taking tests on a daily basis through online mode due to COVID-19 lockdown.
Method: A total of 60 students (30 boys and 30 girls) were selected using a purposive sampling method. The Educational Stress Scale for Adolescents (ESSA, Sun, Dunne, Hou, & Xu, 2011a) which is a revised 16 item scale which includes five factors – pressure from study, workload, worry about grades, self-expectation and study despondency was used for the study. Along with this scale, a question on how this lockdown period helped participants to cope with the situation was asked and the responses were collected using Google forms. Mean, Median,independent samples test, Pearson Product Moment Correlation were the statistics used to analyze the data.
Results: It was found that there is no significant difference in the academic stress level among boys and girls. However, the mean scores indicated that girls were more stressed compared to boys. It was also found that there was a significant positive relationship between pressure from study and worry about grades and study-despondency. Low levels of academic stress were found among boys and girls. Low level of stress under the factors word-load, self expectancy and study-despondency and average level of stress under pressure from study and worry about grades was reported.
Conclusion: Involving in various activities would help students cope better with the academic stress.
Keywords: Academic stress, 10th standard students, online mode, COVID-19
Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered Coronavirus.  Dr. Sameer Malhotra, director and head, Department of Mental Health and Behavioral Sciences, Max Healthcare says that students who are giving board exams are concerned about the uncertainty that future holds.  S. Arumainadhan, the President of the Tamil Nadu Students’ Parents Welfare Association, Chennai said that “This situation is stressful for students. There is a lot of stress that the students are burdened with during board exams and now this COVID-19 will stress them even more.” 
The study used survey methods which were exploratory in nature. A purposive sample of 60 students (30 boys and 30 girls), studying in tenth standard were chosen to understand the level of stress as they were dealing with uncertainty and were taking many subject related tests. Consent for participation was obtained and responses were collected using Google forms between 1st and 6th of May 2020. A question “Has this lockdown period helped you develop or learn anything new? If yes, please mention what new skill you have learnt” was asked mainly to understand how students were dealing with the lockdown period.
Tools: The revised version of Educational Stress Scale for Adolescents (ESSA, Sun, Dunne, Hou, & Xu, 2011a) was used to estimate the level of academic stress. It contains 16 statements rated on a 5-point Likert scale ranging from 1 (Strongly disagree) to 5 (Strongly agree). The total score ranges from16 to 80: a high score indicating greater stress. This scale has five factors: ‘Pressure from study’ (four items about the perceived pressure from daily learning, from parents, peer competition and students’ concern about the future); ‘Workload’ (three items regarding perceived burden of homework, schoolwork and examinations); ‘Worry about grades’ (three items regarding stressful emotions due to dissatisfaction with academic grades);‘Self- expectation stress’ (three items about stressful feelings when self expectation failed to be met) and ‘Despondency’ (three items about dissatisfaction and lack of confidence and concentration in academic study). This instrument has satisfactory to good internal consistency with Cronbach’ α = .82 for the total scale. Test-retest reliability is satisfactory with .78 for the total scale.
SPSS Version 16.0 was used to calculate the mean and median to understand the level of stress under five factors. Independent samples T-Test was computed to see if there is a significant gender difference in academic stress and Karl Pearson Product Moment correlation to understand the relationship between all the five factors.
Results and discussion
Table 1 (Appendix 1), shows Academic stress does not differ significantly among boys and girls of 10th standard students taking tests on a daily basis during the lockdown period of COVID-19. However, the mean scores indicate that the academic stress is slightly higher among girls (mean=49.933, SD=7.49) than boys (mean=49.500, SD=8.754) with a t-value 0.206. This finding indicates girls reporting more academic stress than boys.
Table 2 (Appendix 1), shows a significant relationship between the different areas of Academic stress across gender by 10th standard students taking tests on a daily basis during the lockdown period of COVID-19. Pressure from study has a positive correlation with worryabout grades (r=0.434, p<0.01). Pressure from study has a positive correlation with self- despondency (r=0.472, p<0.01). This indicates that increased pressure from study can increase worry about grades and self-despondency.
The findings of the study show that participants experience low levels of academic stress (35%) compared to average (33.3%) and high (31.7%) levels ofAcademic stress.
Average level of stress under the factors Pressure from study (low= 33.3%, average=35%, high=31.7%) and Worry about grades (low=40%, average=41.7%, high=18.3%). Low level of stress under the factors workload (low= 40%, average=28.3%, high=31.7%), Self-expectancy (low=32.3%, average=9.4%, high=20.8%) and Study-despondency (low= 30.2%, average=15.6%, high=16.7%).
The level of stress was found to be low among the participants astheyhad involved themselves in different activities. Girls were involved in cooking, household chores, drawing, playing games, chess, learning songs, acting and reading story books. Few had taken the opportunity to improve their academic progress for board exams and one of the participants was involved in learning how to ride a bike. Boys were involved in cooking, solving Rubik’s cube, practicing yoga, exercising, trying to build their body, riding, household chores and a few of them had taken the opportunity to improve their academic progress for board exams, and one of the boys had mentioned that he was practicing anger management and being calm at times.
However, a few boys did mention that they were not happy as they felt depressed staying alone and not meeting their friends for a long time. Among 60 participants, 17 participants indicated that they had not been involved in any major activities as such.
From this study we can understand that although there is uncertainty, participants coped with their stress level by involving themselves in different activities. Stress is caused by thinking about the future and not being focused completely. To manage the stress level, a certain strategy to cope with academic stress can help the mover come.
The coping strategies may include learning new skills through practice, using positive selftalk, taking responsibility for mistakes, forgiving ourselves, focusing on what we can control and practicing good self-care.
Implications The result of this study helps parents, students and teachers understand that pressure from studying can have an impact on study-despondency and their worry about grades. However, adapting and accommodating coping strategies or focusing on different activities may lower the level of academic stress.
- Limited scope for generalization of the study’s conclusion due to small sample size.
- Participants only from urban areas were considered.
- Participants Were not selected randomly.
The level of stress is low on academics as a whole among 10th standard students, taking tests on a daily basis during the lockdown period due to COVID-19. Participants have shown low levels of stress under workload, Self-despondency and Self- expectancy. There is no significant difference across gender in academic stress. There is a significant relationship between pressure from study and worry about grades, study-despondency across gender.
1. World Health Organization, Health topic, Coronavirus available at https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus#tab=tab_1
2. Ghosh S, (2020), Express News Service, New Delhi, available at https://www.newindianexpress.com/lifestyle/health/2020/may/07/anxiety-feeling-ofuncertainty-mental-health-talks-rise-amid-covid-19-lockdown-2140214.html
3. Deeksha J (20/03/2020), TN students, parents hoping state will go CBSE way, postpone Class 10 exams, available at https://www.edexlive.com/news/2020/mar/20/tn-studentsparents-hoping-state-will-go-cbse- way-postpone-class-10-exams-10790.html
Table 1 shows mean, standard deviation, t-value and significant difference in Academic stress across gender, by 10th standard students taking tests on a daily basis during lockdown of COVID-19.
Table 2 shows the significant relationship between different areas of Academic stress across gender i.e. Pressure from study, workload, and worry about grades, self-expectation and study- despondency by 10th standard students taking online classes during lockdown of COVID-19.
PFS=Pressure from study, WL=Workload, WAG= Worry about grades,SE=Self-Expectation and SD= Study-Despondency.