Reducing Student Stress Through Instructional Practice


created by James Ranni

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ETAP 623 Spring 2009

Course Links

Unit 1: Causes and Consequences of Student Stress

Unit 2: Role of Instructional Practice in Student Stress

Unit 3: Implementing Instruction Practices to Reduce Student Stress

Student Stress a Concern for Us All

Why do many students come to the school counselor? Why do students continually do poorly in certain classes? Why does sleeping in class seem to be an international epidemic? Why does the use of stimulants among students seem to be skyrocketing?

One component in all of the above is student stress.

The Student visit to the counselor.

Every quarter after grades are due (and at progress report time) guidance counselors in school across the world begin the task of locating students in academic trouble. We then call the students into our offices in the hopes of finding the cause or root of the students difficulty to engage the material, the class, and often the teacher, in hopes of turning the students academic difficulties around. Often, the students come from disadvantaged backgrounds or have a host of other personal problems that interfere with the learning environment. Yet, quite frequently, and in my upscale private school experience, in the majority of cases, students begin to fall behind and can’t seem to catch up; they have stopped doing one classes homework to do another; the major project that was 25%+ of their quarter grade was never turned in to the teacher; they stay up until 2am on a nightly basis doing homework and hand it in only to receive a poor grade.

Parents call to get the inside scoop on a certain class; It seems their child is staying up until 2am doing homework. They tried to help them but just couldn't understand the question. Why is there so much homework? It’s just not healthy…

Teachers complain of students falling asleep in their classes; of a certain student that seems depressed, “they never seem to have any energy… their homework is always half done… I think this student is on drugs…”

What is the cause? Is it the students, the home environment, or the schools fault? Well in my experience, a bit of all three.

What can we do about the problem? The key to success is a multi-pronged approach which attempts to deal with the entire system. This mini-course is aimed at improving just one part of that system but an extremely important part, YOU! Since you're at this webpage, you must be concerned about the effect stress is having on your students well-being. Any instructors initial reaction to some of this material might be one of defensiveness. If that is your reaction, I ask that you repeat this mantra before continuing...

"No one is perfect. I do my best everyday to create an interesting and challenging learning environment, while at the same time caring for each and every student."

Now, this mini-course will try and help you to do just that!

Course Goal

Teachers will acknowledge that student stress can be a problem, evaluate the level of stress students are currently experiencing in their classes, analyze their instructional practices, and change instruction methodologies to reduce student stress and potentially increase student performance in the courses in which they teach.

The Course will be divided into 3 units. Unit one will attempt to familiarize you with the bare minimum of general background information of stress, it’s causes, and implications. The unit will then attempt to provide some information on how stress effects students. Unit two will have you examine a scenario where student stress is causing problems and have you identify instructional methodologies which could be used to alleviate at least some of the stressors on the student. Lastly, unit three will ask that you examine your own instructional practices, make appropriate changes, and evaluate the affects of these changes on the students stress levels.

It is said that all great teachers are scientists in which they continually try to improve student learning and their own instruction through hypothesis, experimentation, and analysis of the results. Let the experiment begin!!

Start the Course

Please Click on the Unit Heading Below to Start the Course

Unit 1 - Causes and Consequences of Student Stress


- Students will demonstrate comprehension of the symptoms and causes of student stress as explained in a short reading by engaging in an online discussion with other course participants.

- Students will identify why it is important to reduce student stress in order to improve performance and satisfaction of students within a course by engaging in an online discussion with other course participants.

Unit 2 - Role of Instructional Practice in Student Stress


- Students will identify the area’s of student stress that can be reduced or alleviated through teacher intervention, in terms of instructional planning by analyzing a student case study and writing the most likely cause/effect relationship.

- Students will discriminate between their own instruction practices and those described as stress reducing by creating specific examples of improvements in these lessons to reduce student stress.

Unit 3 - Implementing Instruction Practices to Reduce Student Stress


- Students will employ these changes within the context of their current teaching environment and evaluate the changes in stress levels experience by their students in regards to their class through before/after online surveys and student performance levels by comparing before/after student grades on assessments.

- Students will reflect upon the experience, evaluate the level of success with the techniques, and compare these with other students (instructors) by engaging in an online discussion with other students taking the same online course.

Web Resources Used For This Course

Can School Shrink your brain?

Homework and Practice (Focus on Effectiveness)

Key lessons: What research says about the value of homework

Teaching time management skills and instructional practices that help students manage their time

Video on Student stress leading to stimulant abuse

Works Cited

Humphrey, R., & McCarthy, P. (1998, April). Stress and the Contemporary Student. Higher Education Quarterly, 52(2), 221.

Meijer, J. (2007, March 1). Correlates of Student Stress in Secondary Education. Educational Research, 49(1), 21-35.

Sarafino, E. P., (2002). Health Psychology: Biopsychosocial Interactions. New York, NY: Wiley and Sons, Inc

Smith, M., Teske, R., & Gossmeyer, M. (2000, May 1). Improving Student Achievement through the Enhancement of Study Skills.

Struthers, C., Perry, R., & Menec, V. (2000, October). An Examination of the Relationship Among Academic Stress, Coping, Motivation, and Performance in College. Research in Higher Education, 41(5), 581-592.

Yoon, Jina S.. TEACHER CHARACTERISTICS AS PREDICTORS OF TEACHER-STUDENT RELATIONSHIPS: STRESS, NEGATIVE AFFECT, AND SELF-EFFICACY. Social Behavior & Personality: An International Journal, 2002, Vol. 30 Issue 5, p485, 9p;