Date of Conferral







John Deaton


There are many changes undergraduate students face when they transition to the college environment, including vacations and an increase in academic workload. Past research has found that both gender and year of study impact level and sources of stress in undergraduate students who attend traditional brick and mortar institutions. However, the relationship between gender, year of study, and stress levels in undergraduate distance learners has not been well studied. Based on the cognitive theory of emotions, this quantitative study examined what undergraduate distance learners perceive as stressful, whether or not gender and year of study impacted these stressors and whether or not there was an interaction between gender and year of study. The Higher Education Stress Inventory (HESI) and a demographic questionnaire were administered to undergraduate students enrolled in distance education (USEDE) who were in Year 1 or Year 4 of their program (N = 321). A 2-way analysis of variance was used to examine the overall stress levels among USEDE in Year 1 or Year 4 of their programs, gender difference effects on stress levels, and the interaction between year of study and gender. No statistical differences were found in overall stress levels between USEDE who were in Year 1 and USEDE who were in Year 4 of their programs (F(1,84) = .679, p = 0.410, η2 < .001). There was no interaction between year of study and gender (F(1, 317) = 0.187, p = .666, η2 < .001). There was a statistical difference between overall stress scores between males and females USEDE (F(1,84) = 31.442, p < .001, η2 = .09). This study contributes to the field of higher education by providing details around what USEDE perceive as causes of stress, as reported on the HESI, and will bring about a level of awareness among staff, administration, and distance education students.

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