Ursidae: The Undergraduate Research Journal at the University of Northern Colorado


Curtis Hill

Faculty Sponsor

Robyn Hess


The 2010 annual freshmen survey from the University of California Los Angeles stated that nearly half of all freshmen report having low to average levels of emotional health. This is the largest percentage of students in the low range of emotional health since the survey began over 25 years ago. Lower levels of mental and emotional health have been found to correlate with higher levels of stress. If students have high levels of stress and ineffective coping skills, this may negatively affect their academic performance. The purpose of my research was to understand how school stress, coping, and academic performance interact with each other. To accomplish this, college freshmen (n = 38) from a mid-sized university in the Rocky Mountain region were asked to complete three surveys: the Student Life-Stress Inventory (Gadzella, 1994), the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (Endler & Parker, 1999), and a demographic survey. Correlation analysis suggested that stress and coping were positively and significantly correlated (r[36] = .448, p = .004). Beyond this, emotion coping was also positively and significantly correlated with stress (r[36] = .698, p = < .001). Regression analysis showed that emotion coping accounted for nearly half of the variance in stress (R2 = .488, p < .001). These results suggest that reacting in an emotional way may be freshmen students’ first and most used reaction to stress. It may be that freshmen students only know how to cope with stress in an emotional way. Incoming freshmen may benefit from additional sources of support and tools to deal with stress, such as positive ways to manage stress, and increased knowledge of resources on campus, such as counseling centers.