A study of the association between undergraduates' resilience and their coping
Existing research indicates that resilience is related to a person's ability to cope with stress. However, there is no empirical evidence to support the existence of such a relationship for undergraduates. The current research examined this association by administering a detailed questionnaire to students at two similar universities at four points during their first fourteen months of university and interviewing a sub-sample at the end of that period.
Five hundred and seventy eight undergraduates participated in the study. The results showed that, across the measure period, undergraduates experienced stressors that were predominantly due to daily annoyances and the difficulties of choosing among equally important alternatives in the university environment. They used a mixture of problem-focused coping strategies and self-regulated coping behaviours, but they constantly avoided all emotion-focused coping strategies, except the one of turning to religion for solutions to their problems. There was no association between their coping efforts and their psychological well-being, and between their resilience and their success in courses at the first attempt. First-time achievers, however, sought more information, advice and material assistance from others in order to cope with their stressors.
It was concluded that undergraduates repeatedly experience stress due to annoyances and conflicts, that they cope with stress avoiding most emotion-focused coping strategies, signifying that they feel their stressors are amenable to change, that their psychological well-being is not related to how they cope with university stressors, and that their self-esteem and optimism are not related to their coping. However, their lower perceived control is associated with their seeking of advice and support from others, a coping strategy that is consequently associated with their success in courses at the first attempt. Such information will allow universities to be more proactive in the provision of appropriate support information given to the undergraduate.
- School of Sport and Health Sciences