The Effect of Stress on Emotional, Behavioral and Academic Adaptation in Relation to Newly Immigrated Students in South Africa
The Course Leader: HMPYC80
Department of Psychology
University of South Africa
RE: The Effect of Stress on Emotional, Behavioral and Academic Adaptation in Relation to Newly Immigrated Students in South Africa
I am currently associated with Unisa where I am carrying out my honours in Psychology. The field of interest is of emotional, behavioural and academic adaptation of immigrants in Universities here in South Africa as I have personally experienced some of the struggles of adapting to a new country.
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Although the study of stress among students is not new, it is becoming more and more common for students to move away from home and study abroad whether the university abroad is more suited for the field of the student’s choice or whether a bursary was attained. Whatever the reason may be it is not uncommon for students to travel abroad for tertiary education. Through this informal observation and personal experience I have always strived to discover the effects stress may have on other immigrant students. This study will focus on newly immigrated students in South Africa and information regarding their experienced stress with regards to emotional, behavioural and academic adaptation will be gathered.
Although stress is a response that is inevitable in most of our lives, stress can be vital for certain responses to events, however if it is experienced for long periods of times it could have negative consequences as well. According to the Johns Hopkins School of Education Tennant (2003) stress can be a positive factor when one feels stimulated and able to manage a situation which then activates the body for action and also activates centers of the brain for higher thinking. Further more stress is needed to offer energy in emergency situations. Stress on the other hand becomes a negative response when one feels threatened and one no longer feels in control of a situation. This powerful feeling can initiate a powerful response destructive to both the mind and body.
According to Goleman (1997) constant emotional stress can impede one’s capacity to learn. He further stresses that the working memory and long term memory can be impeded by stress. This is due to stress affecting the prefrontal lobe of the brain.
Additionally Bailey (2001) highlights the importance of dopamine (a neurotransmitter responsible for sharper thinking and focused behavior among other important functions) and how stress can affect it. Stress can result in the underproduction of dopamine which can then result in inattentiveness and unmotivated behavior.
With regards to immigrants who are already trying to deal with the stress of tertiary education they additionally may face stresses such as overcoming cultural and language barriers as well as possible discrimination. According to Sher and Vilens (2010) much of the stress that immigrants cope with have a high affinity for disorders such as depression anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder and a high risk for suicide among other behavioral disorders.
Many measures have been performed with the aim of testing the relationship between stress and immigrants (especially in the United States) and the relationship between stress and students however measures aiming to test individuals who are both students and immigrants in relation to stress are significantly less than other stress measures. One study that is of significance is the study performed by Bhandari (2012) who performed a cross sectional study assessing stress and...