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‘Exams give maximum stress to students’

Students from private, unaided state board schools have higher stress levels as compared to those from private aided SSC schools, claims a study submitted as part of a PhD thesis through Mumbai University.

mumbai Updated: Jul 24, 2011 01:40 IST
Bhavya Dore

Students from private, unaided state board schools have higher stress levels as compared to those from private aided SSC schools, claims a study submitted as part of a PhD thesis through Mumbai University.

The study also found that maximum stress was caused by exams.

On a scale of 1% to 100%, stress levels among students in private unaided schools was 48.18% as against 47.13% in private aided schools.

The study, conducted over a two-year period, surveyed 1,092 Class 10 students (507 girls, 585 boys) from across 20 SSC board affiliated English-medium schools in the city.

“Children in unaided schools come from better socio-economic backgrounds, have more educated parents, access to better infrastructure, facilities and opportunities. All of this makes them more ambitious,” said Giselle D’souza, associate professor at St Teresa’s Institute of Education, who conducted the study. “For them success in exams is a prestige symbol that earns recognition from their parents. Aided schools, on the other hand, have lower fees, and children have to fend more for themselves, which helps them develop better.”

The research found that the maximum source of stress for all students – both boys and girls – was exam-related. Though all the stress scores fell in the “moderate” category on the researcher’s scale of 1% to 100%, the mean percentage for exam stress was 50.17%, for achievement stress it was 48.85% and for social stress it 42.74% (see box).

The data was collected in 2006, before the state board implemented various reforms. However, Class 10 board exam remains of crucial importance because of the competition to get into a good junior college. “The competition is so intense these days that everyone is nervous,” said Dristi Jain, 15, who just finished Class 10.

The study, which will be soon out as a book, concluded that stress levels were not dangerously high. Students’ scored “substantially” on the parameters of academic self-concept (how they think of themselves), self-efficacy (their belief in their capabilities) and locus of control (to what extent they think they can control the situation).

“Very few studies have so far related these personality correlates with stress levels,” said Shefali Pandya, professor at the department of education at Mumbai University, who guided the study. “Schools and parents can help in bringing down stress levels by building confidence and self-worth in students.”