33 SES 00 PS, General Poster Exhibition - NW 33
Posters can be viewed in the General Poster Exhibition throughout the ECER week.
School stress is a fundamental phenomenon for the promotion of wellbeing in schools. In addition, it is a topic of international scientific interest, due to its significant links with trends in mental wellbeing in a wide variety of countries (Cosma et al., 2020). The latest data of the WHO-collaborative survey Health Behaviour in School-aged Children shows that over a third of adolescents reported feeling pressured from schoolwork (Inchley et al., 2020) and trend analyses on school pressure suggest that school-related stress have experienced a significant increase across time in the majority of countries, especially in girls (Löfstedt et al. 2020). As a result, gender differences that were already apparent in many countries in the early 2000s have become wider over the past two decades (Löfstedt et al. 2020).
According to the transactional model of stress (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), experiencing school stress can be seen as the result of a perceived imbalance between school demands and available resources to meet them. However, while girls generally perform better at school than boys, they still experience higher stress, which represents a concerning paradox (see e.g.,
Pomerantz, Altermatt & Saxon, 2002). Different hypotheses have been put forward to explain the higher school stress in girls, such as girls perceiving higher social demands on them to do well academically that they may internalise, being more concerned to please adults (including teachers) or worrying more about school achievement (Låftman, Almquist & Östberg, 2013; Pomerantz et al., 2002).
Theoretical contributions to the study of stress have pointed to a variety of potential school-related stressors beyond school performance during adolescence (Byrne et al., 2007). Therefore, an examination of different types of school-related stress may contribute to increase our understanding of the aforementioned gender differences. In fact, some research suggests that boys’ levels of stress can be similar to girls’ when other types of school stressors (such as school attendance or school-leisure conflict) are considered (e.g., McKay, Andretta & Perry, 2019), which deserves further examination.
Finally, COVID 19 has severely disrupted students’ school life, which adds a new layer to take into consideration in current research on school stress. Concern has been voiced that COVID may be contributing to create or exacerbate inequalities in education (Gouëdard, Pont & Viennet, 2020; UNESCO, 2020). In addition, although research still is scarce in this area, distant learning due to COVID-related school closures have been linked to students’ negative experiences, such as perceptions of excessive workloads and increased fatigue and difficulties to concentrate and keep up-to-date with schoolwork (e.g. Niemi & Kousa, 2020). Similarly, little is known on the impact of COVID on the school experiences of students attending schools once these reopened, with the study of the effects of COVID on school stress among secondary students being an area in need of attention.
The present study seeks to provide a deeper examination of gender differences in school stress, both by considering different sources of stress and by exploring the impact of COVID on school stress levels. Specifically, the aims of this poster were to examine gender differences in school stress (aim 1) and in the impact of COVID on school stress levels (aim 2). As part of those aims, we also explored the links between the aforementioned variables and school satisfaction and the potential moderating effect of gender.
Sample consisted of 2,523 secondary school students who had completed the anonymous online questionnaire of Project EASE (EASE is an acronym for “Estrés en el Alumnado de Secundaria en España”, i.e. stress in secondary school students in Spain) from November 2020 to mid-January 2021. The sample includes a balanced representation of boys (n= 1,203, M age = 13.72, SD = 1.33) and girls (n = 1,320, M age = 13.83, SD = 1.29). The ASQ-S (Anniko et al. 2018), a short version of the revised Adolescent Stress Questionnaire- ASQ2 (Byrne et al., 2007), was used for the assessment of stress of school performance (e.g., teachers expecting too much from you), stress of future uncertainty (e.g., concern about your future), and stress of school-leisure conflict (e.g., not getting enough time for leisure). Higher scores in each subscale represent higher levels of the type of school stress under study. The ASQ-S has shown good psychometric properties, similar to those of the full instrument, and has been proven useful for the study of gender differences (Anniko et al., 2018). In addition, students answered a specific question on the impact of COVID on school stress (Have your levels of school stress changed due to the current situation because of coronavirus?). Specifically, they reported whether they felt more stressed than before, as stressed as before or less stressed than before. Finally, for school satisfaction, students were asked ‘How do you feel about school at present?’ with scores ranging from 1 (I don´t like it at all) to 4 (I like it a lot). This measure of school satisfaction has been widely used in the WHO-collaborative survey Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (Inchley et al., 2020). ANOVA, along with Cohen’s d (to assess effect size) were used for the analysis of mean differences in school stress (aim 1). Chi-square analyses and Crammer’s V (to assess effect size) were used for the examination of gender differences in the impact of COVID 19 on school stress (aim 2). For the examination of the links between the aforementioned variables and school satisfaction and the potential moderating effect of gender (aims 1 and 2), we used General Linear Models, with gender and the relevant stress-related variable/s as independent variables and school satisfaction as dependent variable. The two-way interactions with gender were tested as part of these analyses and, where significant, additional separate models for boys and girls were calculated.
Significant gender differences were found in all types of school stress; girls reported higher stress of school performance, stress of future uncertainty, and stress of school-leisure conflict. In addition, gender moderated the links between these types of school stress and school satisfaction. Specifically, we found a stronger effect of stress of school performance on girls’ school satisfaction. Furthermore, stress of school-leisure conflict and stress of future uncertainty were associated with school satisfaction in boys only. Gender differences were also apparent in the impact of COVID. Girls were significantly more likely than boys to report that their levels of school stress were now higher because of COVID, whereas boys were overrepresented among students reporting no change or feeling less stressed than before. In conclusion, our findings highlight the need to pay attention to gender differences in school stress. First, girls experienced higher stress linked to school performance, future uncertainty and school-leisure conflict than boys. Previous research had found higher levels of school pressure in girls (Löfstedt et al., 2020), and our findings show how gender differences exist in different facets of school stress. Second, the new situation in schools due to COVID seems to have affected girls more negatively, with girls being more likely to have seen their levels of school stress increase due to the COVID situation. This finding concurs with expressed concerns that COVID may be contributing to widen existing inequalities among students (Gouëdard et al. 2020; UNESCO, 2020). Finally, further research is recommended to understand the more salient role of stress of school performance in girls’ school satisfaction. We also recommend that future research expands the present study by examining the potential moderating effect of gender on the association between different facets of school stress and additional wellbeing outcomes.
Anniko, M. K., Boersma, K., van Wijk, N. P. L., Byrne, D. & Tillfors, M. (2018). Development of a Shortened Version of the Adolescent Stress Questionnaire (ASQ-S): construct validity and sex invariance in a large sample of Swedish adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 6(1),4-15. Byrne, D. G., Davenport, S. C. & Mazanov, J. (2007). Profiles of adolescent stress: The development of the adolescent stress questionnaire (ASQ). Journal of Adolescence, 30, 393–416. Cosma, A. et al. (2020). Cross-national time trends in adolescent mental well-being from 2002 to 2018 and the explanatory role of schoolwork pressure. Journal of Adolescent Health, 66(6), 50-58. Gouëdard, P., Pont, B., & Viennet R. (2020). Education responses to COVID-19: Implementing a way forward. Paris: OECD Publishing. Inchley, J. et al. (2020) (Eds.). Spotlight on adolescent health and well-being. Findings from the 2017/2018 Health Behaviour in School-aged Children (HBSC) survey in Europe and Canada. International report. Volume 1. Key findings. Copenhagen: WHO Regional Office for Europe. Låftman, S. B., Almquist, Y. B. & Östberg, V. (2013). Students' accounts of school-performance stress: a qualitative analysis of a high achieving setting in Stockholm, Sweden. Journal of Youth Studies, 16(7), 932-949. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. New York: Springer. Löfsted, P., García-Moya, I., Corell, M., Paniagua, C., Samdal, O., Välimaa, R., Lyyra, N., Currie, D., & Rasmussen, M. (2020). School satisfaction and school pressure in the WHO European region and North America: An analysis of time trends (2002 to 2018) and patterns of co-occurrence in 32 countries. Journal of Adolescent Health, 66(6), 59-69. McKay, M., Andretta, J. & Perry, J. (2019). The shortened version of the Adolescent Stress Questionnaire (ASQ-S; Sweden): a validation study in United Kingdom adolescents. Scandinavian Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology, 7, 81-87. Niemi, H. M., & Kousa, P. (2020). A case study of students’ and teachers’ perceptions in a Finnish high school during the COVID pandemic. Interntional Journal of Technology in Education and Sciences (IJTES), 4, 352-369. Pomerantz, E., Altermatt, E., & Saxon, J. L. (2002). Making the grade but feeling distressed: Gender differences in academic performance and internal distress. Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 396-404. UNESCO (2020). The Global Education Monitoring Report. Inclusion and Education: All means All. Available at: https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000373718/PDF/373718eng.pdf.multi
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