1.1     Background to the Study

Researches have shown that validity of UTME and PUTME varies among universities and even among departments of the same university. The academic performance of students admitted into universities has been an issue of great concern to many people who are interested in the education industry in Nigeria (Dedekuma, et al, 2016). There have been several findings on the relationship of the various entry qualifications and academic achievements in the universities by different researchers. For instance Ajogbele and Borishade (2013) and Joe et al (2014) investigated three groups of students in different institutions and found that their pre-entry academic achievements significantly influenced the degree of performance of the students. This studies indicated that students’ academic performance is affected by their mode of entry to the universities and their level of stress. The effects of stress on the academic performance of students remains a serious issue in the Nigerian educational system. Students who pass through stress before gaining admission tends to perform lower than students who were not stressed (Michael, et al, 2009).

Previous studies have shown that students who spend excessive time on the computer, watching television or playing video games were more likely to engage in other unhealthy habits such as eating fast food. “Screen time had huge impact on Grade Point Average (GPA). Selye (2016) pointed out that academic performance is affected by numerous factors, they could range from past events-schools you come from, your previous economic conditions, your routines etc. and many upcoming event could affect it as well, such as, the new university environment, habitual changes as you would take up more schooling responsibility and you might be overwhelmed by this.

In the hustle and bustle of the modern world, stress is unavoidable. Everyone-adults, teens and even kids experience it at times and in different ways. Just enough stress can keep you on your toes, ready to rise to a challenge. But too much stress can have debilitating effects on your health, contributing to and agitating many problems including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, depression and sleep disorder. Of recent, researchers have found a clear connection between student stress and academic success (Madeline, 2015). In the first study of its kind, researchers who matched Grade Point Average (GPA) with health problems such as stress, smoking and drinking as well as typical lifestyle choices such as gambling and excessive screen time, found out that students with unhealthy behaviours had significantly lower Grade Point Average (GPAs) of which stress was one of the biggest factors. The study carried out by Ehlinge (2015) also found out that the ability to manage stress was equally important. This is because students who said they were able to handle their stress effectively performed much better than those who said they couldn’t. This is an important finding, because it can persuade universities to provide students with the resources they need to learn how to manage stress. As clearly pointed out by Ehlinger (2015), “If students can manage their stress, then their stress level will not matter”.

Human beings survive by constantly adapting to the demands of an ever changing environment. Damacio (2009), defined stress as a real or perceived imbalance between environmental demands required for survival and individual’s capacity to adapt to these requirements. This general model regards stress as part of a sequential process in which objective environmental circumstances (i.e., stressors) are appraised by the individual as either having no adaptive significance or a stressful (i.e., presenting a potential threat danger, change or challenge to one’s well-being or survival). If circumstances are presented by the individual as stressful, then this study will set in motion a series of stress-response mechanisms comprised of integrated physiological, behavioural and psychological efforts to adapt to the environmental demands.

Academic performance according to Harlina et al. (2015) is one of the most vital considerations among students in higher educational level, which can be illustrated by Grade Point Average (GPA). Despite living in the millennium era where education is accessible to all, there are still some differences in performance among the students. Several studies identified internal and external factors associated with academic performance. Stress is one of the factors that has negative effect on the mastery of the academic curriculum. Stress is the body’s nonspecific response mechanism towards demands or strains made on itself or the environment (Stewart et al., 1999; Selye, 2015; Rosenham and Seligman, 1989). It is a process by which we perceive and cope with environmental threats and challenges (Myers, 2005). Stress can be defined in Webster New World Dictionary as “a condition typically characterized by symptoms of mental and physical tension or strain, as depression or hypertension, that can result from a reaction to a situation in which a person feels threatened, pressured, etc”. An individual can be stressed in daily life in a different way, and stress can be viewed as the bodies’ reaction both neurologically and physiologically to adapt to the new condition (Yakushko et al., 2008; and Franken, 1994). A student can be stressed due to different reasons or stressors such as the academic, financial problems, health problem or loss of close family member or friend, etc. It is the persons’ ability to face the everyday challenges which will determine whether he/she will be stressed or not. Stress in academic situation can have both positive and negative consequences. Stress can inhibit and suppress learning, which is called ‘unfavourable stress’ and is associated with inhibition of students’ academic performance (Linn and Zeppa, 1984). Previous studies have reported a high prevalence of stress in sociology students, ranging from 30% to 50%. However, stress management training in sociological school is needed to promote learning through coping with stress which is called ‘favourable stresses. Furthermore, prior studies have concentrated on collecting cross-sectional rather than longitudinal data (Misra et al., 2000; Trockel et al., 2000). This study thus attempts to address the research gap by including a more comprehensive list of stress factors and empirically test them against the academic performance of the Delta State University students in Abraka based on different periods of a semester. This study is also carried out to look intensively into the effect of stress on academic performance of the Delta State University, Abraka students.

1.2     Statement of Problem

Stress is one of the factors that has negative effect on the mastery of the academic curriculum. Academic performance is one of the most vital considerations among students in higher educational level. Despite living in the millennium era where education is accessible to all, there are still some differences in performance among the students (Harlina et al., 2015).

A student can be stressed due to so many stressors, such as academic reason, financial problem, health problem or loss of close family member of friend. The main stressor identified in the study carried out by Harlina et al. (2015) was academic related. They further added that there was no negative correlation between stress level and academic performance of students in secondary schools but reverse was the case in the university. Higher academic performances of the students can be achieved at the secondary school level even with a higher level of stress, if the students are able to manage their stress very well but this is not so in the universities as the work load are not the same with that of the secondary school curriculum. It is the person’s ability to face the everyday challenges that will determine whether he/she will be stressed or not. From the above, it could be deduced that stress itself is a problem which has negative impact on the academic performance of students.

Social researchers are therefore advised to expose the students to various topics such as stress management, decision making in a tough situation, breaking bad news, team building, managing diversity, spiritual development, reflective skills, interfaith discussion etc. in order to promote and produce stress free holistic confident practitioners. The Nigerian sociological students are highly resourceful to manage their academic stress better thus denying the effect of stress towards their academic performance. This study is therefore carried out to address these problems and offers other sociological schools and academic planners a window or guideline for a comprehensive use of personal and professional development activities of the students to cope with the academic related matters and also to develop confidence among students for better adjustment in classroom, group and society.

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Updated: 17th January 2018 — 12:34 pm

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