This study examined socioculturel and gender group differences in perceptions of major sources of academic stress in first year college students, in addition to the relationship between reported academic stress and college achievement. Data were collected via a self-administered student stress inventory given to a sample of 184 Jewish and 209 Arab college undergraduates studying in a major Israel university. They evaluated the personal stressfulness of each of 53 potential sources of academic stress along a 6-point Likert-type scale covering a wide range of potential academic Stressors (academic curriculum and course requirements, course evaluation procedures, college instruction, social milieu and cultural factors on campus, college administration and bureaucracy, physical conditions and accommodations, economic factors, organismic and interpersonal factors, student expectations, daily hassles and constraints). Arab, lower-status, and female students were hypothesized and found to be more stressed than their respective Jewish, upper-class and male counterparts, respectively. Cultural group background was found to be the most salient background predictor of student stress, followed by social class and gender, with each exerting independent (noninteractive) effects. Although group differences were observed in mean ratings, there proved to be a strong correspondence in the hierarchy of perceived Stressors across sociocultural and gender subgroups. As a whole, students appeared to be most stressed by pressures originating from course overload and academic evaluation procedures and least stressed by a variety of personal, familial, and social factors. Furthermore, student stress and achievement factors were found to be inversely correlated, with little evidence for the contention that stress differentially debilitates the academic performance of students as a function of gender or sociocultural group membership. The findings also lend some evidence to the cross-cultural generalizability of major stressors in academia.
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