Sources of student stress and cognitive style

Joan Little, Coromandel Associates, Penzance, UK

Eugene Sadler-Smith, University of Plymouth Business School, UK

The study explored the relationship between cognitive style and sources of student stress in two samples of students, one in a higher educational establishment and a second in a further education establishment (N > 300). The sources of student stress were measured using an inventory developed by the authors through a series of interviews. Cognitive style was assessed using the Cognitive Style Index (Allinson and Hayes, 1996). A principal components analysis revealed two groups of stressors relative to the academic task - intrinsic (for example, deadlines) and extrinsic (for example, library facilities). Regression analyses revealed statistically significant relationships between gender and cognitive style and level of intrinsic stressor. Females reported higher levels of the intrinsic stressor. Higher CSI scores were also associated with higher levels of the intrinsic stressor. The results are discussed in terms of their implications for style theory and the management of stress in an educational environment.

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