Perceived Stress And How It Affects Perceived Academic Performance

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The purpose of this study is to gather information about perceived stress undergraduate college students have and how it affects their perceived academic performance. Recognizing causes of stress could help students to mitigate stress and perform better academically. How does the amount of perceived stress on undergraduate college students affect their perceived academic performance?

Literature Review

Sharmila, (2017) found that “A focus on student’s needs & problems can help to prevent the harmful effects of stress on Academic Performance” (pg. 138). This helps to support the idea that students could perform better academically if they lower the amount of stress they have. In a study done by Frazier, Gabriel, Merians, Lust (2017) they surveyed 8,997 students from mid-western colleges. “The majority (72%) of the sample reported experiencing stress and stress was also most likely to be perceived as affecting academic performance (32% of sample) out of the 20 factors assessed” (pg. 565). This data shows that about 32% of college students perceives that stress is an impediment to academic performance. In another study Peer, Hillman, and Hoet (2013) state “other individuals reported that their mental health was negatively affected by stress. Collectively, the following descriptors were used by this group to describe the effects of stress on their mental health: irritability/anger management difficulties, depressed mood, anxiousness/ nervousness, hopelessness, concentration difficulties and social isolation” (pg. 94). This information shows that stress has a negative impact on college students. Lazarus’ Theory of Stress suggests stress is experienced when a person perceives that the “demands exceed the personal and social resources the individual is able to mobilise” (Lazarus 1966). This suggests that students tend to get stressed when things are perceived to be too much to handle.

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The sample size of this study was 28 students from Montana Tech who were enrolled in a psychology class. This was a quantitative study using a multiple-choice survey. The survey listed five possible ways to choose an answer to a question. These options were, never, almost never, sometimes, fairly often, and very often. The options were then correlated to numerical responses 1-5 so the mean of the results could be calculated. The surveys were distributed during a psychology class. All human subjects were protected during this study, and all University of Montana/ Montana Tech Institutional Review Board Guidelines were followed. This pilot study includes participants age 18 or over with no participants under the age of 18. All participants had a choice to participate or not to participate in the survey.


This study sought to determine if the amount of perceived stress an undergraduate college student has affects their perceived academic performance. The results of this survey indicate that the more perceived stress a student has the lower their perceived academic performance is. The results of the survey are summarized in Table 1 below. The table contains the means of results for different questions answered on the survey correlating to the responses of never, almost never, sometimes, fairly often, and very often. The means are then categorized into letter grades of A, B, C, D, and F for perceived academic performance.


This study has shown students who have high amounts of perceived stress don’t have a high perceived academic performance. This information correlates with Sharmila’s (2017) study “Impact of stress factors on college student’s Academic performance” (pg. 136). That college students would perform better academically if they could lower the amount of stress they have. (Sharmila 2017). The participants who reported they typically get A’s and B’s still reported having stress. Peer, Hillman, and Hoet (2013) found that “As was found in this study, some students struggle with stress management and feel the negative effects of stress, whereas others seem to thrive under stressful situations” (pg. 97). This evidence shows that all students deal with stress differently. This is a pilot study, and the results here cannot be generalized to the population. The results are however an accurate representation of this sample.


According to the results of this study, college students at Montana Tech could achieve better academic performance if they reduce the amount of stress they have. Further studies should be conducted to understand the methods and stress mitigation techniques of students who perform well academically. With more research Montana Tech can ensure the academic success of more students.


  1. Frazier, P., Gabriel, A., Merians, A., & Lust, K. (2018). Understanding stress as an impediment to academic performance. Journal of American College Health, 67(6), 562–570
  2. Gazzaniga, M. S., (2014). Psychological science. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
  3. Lazarus, R. S. (1966). Psychological Stress and the Coping Process. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
  4. Peer, J. W., Hillman, S. B., & Hoet, E. V. (2015). The effects of stress on the lives of emerging adult college students: an exploratory analysis. Adultspan Journal, 14(2), 90–99
  5. Schwartz, J. A., & Beaver, K. M. (2014). Making (up) the grade? estimating the genetic and environmental influences of discrepancies between self-reported grades and official GPA scores. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 44(5), 1125–1138.
  6. Sharmila, S. (2017). Impact of stress factors on college student's academic performance. International Journal of Advance Research in Computer Science and Mangement Studies, 5(1), 136-139.
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