Swimming Upstream: Identifying student anxieties and solutions
Publisher: Bournemouth: Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy, Bournemouth UniversityAbstract:
This study explores some of the sources of stress faced by students in higher education. Research identifies an association between stress levels and students’ academic performance. This study aims to determine the sources, level and impact of perceived stresses among students in terms of age, gender, ethnicity, years of study and degree major. Participatory action research was explored as a means of developing strategies and solutions for students experiencing stress-related problems. Eleven undergraduate students were recruited initially as co-researchers with four academic staff and one research assistant. One student continued throughout the cycle with two others having to withdraw because of academic work pressures. A collaborative process took place using narrative storytelling and discussions alongside extra-sessional research. A range of outcomes is anticipated related to the students’ experience and academic achievements. Academic staff responsiveness and concern for student wellbeing and successful achievement will contribute to increased student satisfaction. Identification and development of systematic and effective ways of managing anxieties and sharing this with other HEIs will contribute to student wellbeing. In terms of academic outputs, a paper based on the pilot will be developed and acknowledgement of co-authorship appropriately made. A wider research proposal - inclusive of other universities and programmes can be developed for the future.