Mature students' perception of stress on returning to learn


In this thesis we present a theoretical model for mature students' perception of stress. The study examines the sources of institutional, dispositional and situational stress of students who are age thirty-to fifty-five. The research involved mature students in England (Yorkshire) and the United States of America (Minnesota). The stress inquiry is phenomenological action research with an interpretive and empirical approach. The design included in-depth interviews (N=60) and application of a questionnaire (N=382). The respondents were asked to describe 'what is it like to be a student at this time in his or her life. The data collected included perceptions of the student experience, institutional support, personal reactions to returning to learn, balancing family, work and study roles, primary sources of stress, change and transition experienced, evidence of psychological support, healthy and energy levels, and coping strategies. The study results indicate the primary sources of stress are managing roles, time management and institutional management of coursework. Students in the study did not report increased illness while returning to learn but did report fatigue. Significant gender-country differences include management of roles, workplace support, sources of funding, student status, and physical exercise as a coping strategy. Gender-country similarities include reactions to returning to learn, institutional support, response to change, psychological support, health and energy status, and personal status. The inquiry has implications for counselling mature students on stress and time management, instructional management of coursework, and recommendation for facility improvements to support efficient and effective learning. Education institutions have and will continue to experience increased mature student enrolment. This research provides specific information on the student experience with the institution, the student-self and the balancing of work, family, and study

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This paper was published in White Rose E-theses Online.

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