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The life of a college student’s life contains many important factors that may cause it to improve or deteriorate. It was hypothesized that among college students, a negative relationship exists between stressful living situations and academic performance, and a positive relationship between level of health of lifestyle and academic performance. This study took a sample of 120 students from Loyola University’s undergraduate population. The negative relationship between stress in living arrangements and academic performance approached significance. The positive relationship between health and academic performance was supported on nutrition and drug/alcohol abuse. There was a difference in the grade point average between students living in off-campus apartments and living with their parents and residence halls. A significant difference was found in regards to drug and alcohol use between students living in residence halls and in off-campus apartments.
Past research had been done testing the relationship between health in lifestyles and academic performance (Field, Diego & Sanders, 2001). Other studies had attempted to research the way living environments affect academic performance (King, 1998). One study found a significant relationship between where college students resided (residence hall, sorority/fraternity house, apartments) and their academic performance (Blimling, 1999). This study’s sample consisted of college undergraduates. Their grades were compared to the students living in sorority/fraternity houses, at home with their parents, or in off-campus apartments. It was found that the students living in the residence halls performed better academically than sorority/fraternity house residents. Also, a small difference resulted showing that students living in residence halls did better than students living in off-campus apartments.
Other research included Schrager (1986), which showed that living groups affected students’ academic performance. This study was performed on 36 fraternity houses and 18 male residence halls, using URES. The results showed that freshmen in the fraternity houses had high levels of academic achievement related with the emphasis and competition on academic achievement by the members of the fraternities. In other words, the freshmen’s academic achievements were satisfactory or unsatisfactory depending on the fraternity’ concerns and mentality on academics. The freshmen in the residence halls had a lower achievement level. This provided evidence that social environments did not affect students academically.
Blai (1972) performed a similar study to the previously mentioned. He placed freshmen roommates in residence halls according tot heir high school grade point average. The students were divided by grade point averages, and were labeled “above-average”, “average”, and “below-average.” The freshmen students that were labeled “above-average” were placed with an “average” roommate. This resulted in the “average” students’ improvement on their academic performance. In the same way, the “above-average” students were placed with “below-average”, and the “below-average” students’ academic performance improved. This study shows that contrary to what was thought before, students roomed, and have the same level of academic ability develop better, is not true.
As previously mentioned, health is another important factor on a college student’s academic performance. A recent study showed that the students with high levels of exercise had better relationships with their parents, less depression, were more into sports, less use or frequency of drugs, and higher grade point averages than students with low levels of exercise (Field, Diego, & Sanders, 2001).
The results of the study last mentioned, concluded that healthy lifestyles affected academic performance along with other factors. For this reason, past theorists have stated that the mind and the body are indeed connected. Gruber (1975) developed this idea and performed a study on it. In this study lower school students were used as a sample. It was concluded that there was a significant improvement in children’s academic performance and exercise. This was confirmed when a physical education program was integrated into their curriculum. Also, in this study it was found that movements of the arms and legs add to the mental motor connection. Another study was executed on this area. The study was on academic performance and the overall well being by Wheeler and Magaletta (1997). They collected data on college students and their ailment in a period of a month. These ailments included cold, nausea, upset stomach, and such. These symptoms were all considered typical when individuals are suffering from stress. As a result, they were related to the pressures of academic achievement.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the differences in levels of stress in a student’s living situation, healthy lifestyle, and their academic performance. This research project tried to investigate: a stress of a living situation, health of lifestyle affecting a college student’s academic performance.
It is hypothesized that among college students, their inverse relationship between stress of living situations and academic performance, and there is a positive relationship between level of health of lifestyle and academic performance. It is further hypothesized that low levels of stress resulting form living situations and high level of health of a student’s lifestyle predict an optimal academic success.
One hundred and fifty students attending Loyola University, New Orleans, both male and female served in our study in Spring 2004. All of the participants are 18 years or older. Most of the participants were required by some classes to fulfill research experiments. These participants were recruited through a posting of the dates the experiments were available or by researchers going to psychology professor’s classes and recruiting from there.
A survey was to be completed that consisted of two already develop surveys. A portion of the survey was the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983) adapted to specifically measure perceived stress of college student’s living situations. This first part of the survey contains 14 questions. In order to record student’s healthy lifestyles the Health Related Variable Survey (Trockel, Barnes, Egget, 2000) was adapted to measure exercise, diet, sleep, and drug or alcohol use. This was then followed by the last part of the survey which are four open-ended questions regarding their academic performance, such as current credit hours enrolled in.
Design and Procedures
This study was a correlational design. Once participants arrived at the study location, they were seated and were provided a basic introduction to the study and its purpose of examining college experiences and college lifestyles. There form of consent was to actually take the survey, however, for their records they kept a copy of the consent form. The participants were then handed the survey packet, which included the above-mentioned surveys. They were given as much time as they needed to fill out the survey, however it was not expected to take more than 30 minutes per participant. The participants were asked to not put their names on the survey. After they finished taking the survey they were debriefed. In the debriefing, the participants were explained the purpose of the study and what it consisted of. Any questions raised were addressed. The participants were thanked and allowed to leave.
We hypothesized that among college students, there would be an inverse relationship between stress of living situations and academic performance. The relationship between stress scores and GPA ( r = -.164, p = .074) approached significance. The hypothesis that a positive relationship exists between level of health of lifestyle and academic performance was supported in regard to nutrition and drug and alcohol use ( r = .192, p< .05)( Table.2). Based on the ANOVA(Table.3), those in different types of living situations had different GPA’s (F = 3.107, p< .05). The drug and alcohol use also differed depending on the living situation (F = 8.467, p< .05). Post Hoc tests were done, and there was significant difference, regarding GPA, between the students that lived in off-campus apartments and students that lived with their parents (p= .039). Another finding was a significant difference between students in residence halls and students living in off-campus apartments ( p < .05), concerning alcohol and drug use. There was also a significant difference among students that lived in off-campus apartments and students that lived with their parents ( p = .015)(Table.4).
The results from the first hypothesis disagree with Blai (1972), which showed that living situations related to academic performance. That study was done by placing the “average”, “above-average”, and “below-average” students as roommates. This led the “below-average” students placed with “above-average” students to improve. In other words, living situations related to academic performance in a positive manner, unlike our hypothesis. Blai (1972), shows a relation between living arrangements and academic performance, which was not found in our study. This study differed from ours in regards to the roommate’s performance, however living situations and academic performance were observed in both studies.
The lack of support for the first hypothesis could be due to various limitations of the study. One of these limitations could have been the small sample size. Also, our failure to recruit more male participants could have limited the study greatly. The sample needed to be more diverse in order for the study to have validity. Another limitation could have been how the survey was adapted from the Perceived Stress Scale. The alterations to the survey may not have been as efficient and clear to the participants. For example, the questions may not have targeted the specific questions needed to be asked, or the questions could have been clearer. As a result, the answers may not have been accurate. However, the survey did cover all the areas that were being studied.
It can be concluded that healthy lifestyles do relate to a college student’s life, such as attending classes, working, socializing, and interpersonal relationships. Health also relates to students’ academic performance. In future studies, stress in living situations could be further investigated. There are many ways to investigate stress in living situations. One way to do this would be to record the daily activities in different home-settings either in journals or videos. This would be a good description of the daily events and how the residents react to such events in their outside environments. The results from studies on stress in living situations are needed in order to be able to deal with the problem of low levels of academic performance due to stress. Findings about stressful living environments may influence boarding schools or universities to improve the process or roommate assignments, which would be more beneficial for the students. This would mean that the students would receive better grades, and better academic performance in general is a key element in a student’s college life. The results demonstrated that when nutrition and exercise are high, then academic performance is positively related also.
N Mean Std. Deviation
residence hall 68 3.13 1.67
off-campus apt. 37 3.30 2.13
with parents 14 4.07 2.46
total 119 3.29 1.93
residence hall 68 3.3924 .5313
off-campus apt 37 3.4708 .3817
with parents 14 3.0900 .5346
total 119 3.3812 .4988
residence hall 68 15.368 1.956
off-campus 37 15.622 2.253
with parents 14 14.929 1.817
total 119 15.395 2.031
residence hall 68 7.397 8.497
off-campus apt 37 9.338 9.928
with parents 14 9.429 9.874
total 119 8.239 8.891
residence hall 68 1.5357 .5587
off-campus apt 37 1.6602 .6806
with parents 14 1.8776 .6744
total 119 1.6146 .6173
residence hall 68 2.3529 1.7515
off-campus apt 37 2.5541 1.4471
with parents 14 2.2500 1.6842
total 119 2.4034 1.6446
residence hall 68 4.2914 .8290
off-campus apt 37 4.3292 .1.0040
with parents 14 3.9156 .7652
total 119 4.2590 .8822
N Mean Std. Deviation
residence hall 68 1.0000 1.2591
off-campus apt 37 2.2162 1.8712
with parents 14 .8571 1.7133
total 119 1.3613 1.6206
Table.2 Correlations of the variables in a College Student’s Life
Sleep GPA Credits Work Hrs Gender Stress Exercise
Sleep Pearson R 1.000
GPA Pearson R 0.042 1.000
Credits Pearson R 0.123 0.342 1.000
Sig. 0.180 0.000 –
WrkHrs Pearson R 0.152 -0.195 0.011 1.000
Sig. 0.098 0.032 0.098 –
Gender Pearson R 0.052
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