Perceived Stress among Ethnically Diverse Female Graduate Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions

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Perceived Stress among Ethnically Diverse Female Graduate Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions
SCOTT, LAKISHA M. ( Author, Primary )
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African Americans ( jstor )
College students ( jstor )
Graduate students ( jstor )
Graduates ( jstor )
Locus of control ( jstor )
Psychological stress ( jstor )
Universities ( jstor )
White people ( jstor )
Women ( jstor )
Womens studies ( jstor )

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University of Florida
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University of Florida
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Copyright Lakisha M. Scott. Permission granted to the University of Florida to digitize, archive and distribute this item for non-profit research and educational purposes. Any reuse of this item in excess of fair use or other copyright exemptions requires permission of the copyright holder.
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2 Copyright 2006 by LAKISHA M. SCOTT


3 To my parents Lewis Scott IV and Wanda Simmons.


4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I could not have completed this goal wit hout the many blessings God has bestowed upon me. This document would not have been po ssible without my loving and supportive community of family and friends. I thank my parents, Le wis Scott IV and Wanda Simmons, for raising me with the belief that I am beau tiful, intelligent, and capable of achieving anything I put my mind to. I am appreciative of my sister Colette T homas, who gave me the honor of being her role model, and spawning my desire to retain the title . I am grateful to my sister, Courtenay Thomas, for her unique approach to life and teaching me th at individuality should be celebrated. I thank my wonderful friends for their understanding and encouragement as I pursued my doctorate degree. Words cannot express my gratitude to my friend and colleague Adrian Manley for encouraging, supporting, and sharing with me through the most difficult points of this adventure. Special thanks go to my friend Denise L ong for helping me understand and embrace my spirituality and higher purpose. I also sincer ely thank Dr. Mary Howard-Hamilton for being a mentor and confidant in the early stages of this degree. I would like to thank all the members of my doctoral committee, both present and past, for providing their guidance throughout this challenging process. I want to thank my chair, Dr. Ellen Amatea, for providing the support and opportunities that allowed me to grow both personally and professionally duri ng the course of this degree. I appreciate Dr. Linda BeharHorenstein for helping me over a huge hurdle with my proposal. I am grateful to Dr. Cirecie West-Olatunji for giving me insight when my mi nd was clouded. I thank Dr. Milagros Pena for helping me remain genuine in my research endeavor. I also want to thank Dr. James Pitts, Dr. Sondra Smith-Adcock, Dr. Linda Shaw, and Dr. Ronald Spitznagel for serving on my committee in the past and supporting me in th e early stages of this degree.


5 In addition, I want to thank the graduate coordinators and campus organizations who facilitated the recruitment of participants. I thank Betsy Pearman for her invaluable assistance with data analysis. Finally, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to the women who participated in the study.


6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS...............................................................................................................4 LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................................. ..........8 ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................... ............10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION..................................................................................................................11 Statement of the Problem....................................................................................................... .12 Theoretical Framework.......................................................................................................... .16 Need for the Study............................................................................................................. .....18 Purpose of This Study.......................................................................................................... ...19 Rationale for Approach......................................................................................................... ..20 Research Questions............................................................................................................. ....20 Definition of Terms............................................................................................................ ....21 Overview of Remainder of Study...........................................................................................23 2 LITERATURE REVIEW.......................................................................................................24 Introduction................................................................................................................... ..........24 Psychological Stress Theory...................................................................................................24 The Academic Experience of Female Graduate Students......................................................27 Black Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions.................................................30 Student Stressors.............................................................................................................. .......33 Locus of Control............................................................................................................... ......35 Cultural, Racial and Gender Differences in Locus of Control........................................37 Coping Styles.................................................................................................................. ........40 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........44 3 METHODOLOGY.................................................................................................................46 Overview....................................................................................................................... ..........46 Population..................................................................................................................... ..........46 Sampling Procedures............................................................................................................ ..47 Research Hypotheses............................................................................................................ ..48 Hypotheses..................................................................................................................... .48 Design of the Study............................................................................................................ ....49 Data Analytic Procedures.......................................................................................................49 Instruments.................................................................................................................... .........50 Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)...........................................................................................50 Pearlin Mastery Scale (PM).............................................................................................52 Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations, (CISS)..........................................................54


7 Demographic Questionnaire............................................................................................60 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........60 4 RESULTS........................................................................................................................ .......61 Sample Demographics............................................................................................................61 Analysis of Instruments Used in Study..................................................................................64 Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS)...........................................................64 Graduate Stress Inventory Revised (GSI-R).................................................................65 Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)...........................................................................................67 Pearlin Mastery Scale (PM).............................................................................................68 Data Analysis.................................................................................................................. ........68 White Women Only.........................................................................................................72 Black Women Only.........................................................................................................72 Regression Summary.......................................................................................................73 5 DISCUSSION..................................................................................................................... ....84 Summary of Study and Major Findings..................................................................................84 Race........................................................................................................................... ......84 Age............................................................................................................................ ......85 Locus of Control..............................................................................................................85 Coping Style................................................................................................................... .86 Sources of Stress..............................................................................................................87 Predictors of Perceived Stress.........................................................................................88 Limitations of the Study....................................................................................................... ..89 Implications of the Findings and Recommendations..............................................................90 Implications for Theory...................................................................................................90 Implications for Practice..................................................................................................91 Recommendations for Future Research...........................................................................93 Summary........................................................................................................................ .........95 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT........................................................................................................96 B QUESTIONNAIRE................................................................................................................97 LIST OF REFERENCES.............................................................................................................105 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH.......................................................................................................117


8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 4-1 Participants’ Age Groups...................................................................................................73 4-2 Participants’ Ethnic Backgrounds......................................................................................73 4-3 Participants Marital Status................................................................................................ .74 4-4 Participants’ Living Arrangements....................................................................................74 4-5 Participants’ Annual Household Income...........................................................................74 4-6 Percentage of Household Annual Income for Participants’ Earnings...............................74 4-7 Participants’ Employment Status.......................................................................................75 4-8 Participants’ Number of Hours Worked Per Week............................................................75 4-9 Participants’ Degree Sought..............................................................................................75 4-11 Participants’ Number of Semesters Completed.................................................................76 4-12 Facilitative Factors for Progr ession through Program of Study........................................76 4-13 Additional Facilitativ e Factors for Progression through Program of Study......................76 4-14 Hindering Factors to Progre ssion through Program of Study............................................76 4-15 Additional Hindering Factors to Progression through Program of Study..........................77 4-16 Reasons for Choosing Respective University....................................................................77 4-17 Measurement Properties of the Coping I nventory for Stressful Situations (CISS) Scale.......................................................................................................................... .........77 4-18 Factor Loadings for the (CISS) Scale................................................................................78 4-19 Measurement Properties of the Graduate Stress Inventory-Revised (GSI-R) Scale..........79 4-20 Factor Loadings for the (GSI-R) Scale..............................................................................79 4-21 Measurement properties of th e Perceived Stress Scale (PSS)...........................................79 4-22 Factor Loadings for the (PSS) Scale..................................................................................80 4-23 Measurement Properties of th e Pearlin Mastery Scale (PM).............................................80


9 4-24 Factor Loadings for the (PM) Scale...................................................................................80 4-25 Spearman Rho Correlation of Racial Group Membership and Negative Stress................80 4-26 Correlation of Age and Negative Stress.............................................................................80 4-27 Correlation of (PM) Subs cales and Negative Stress..........................................................81 4-28 Correlation of (CISS) S ubscales and Negative Stress.......................................................81 4-29 Correlation of (GSI-R) S ubscales and Negative Stress.....................................................81 4-30 Regression Model Summary for Nega tive Stress of (PSS) All Respondents....................82 4-31 Final Model Regression Co efficients for Negative Stress of (PSS) All Respondents.......82 4-32 Regression Model Summary for Negative Stress of (PSS) for White Women Only........82 4-33 Final Model Regression Co efficients for Negative Stre ss of (PSS) for White Women Only........................................................................................................................... .........83 4-34 Regression Model Summary for Negative Stress of (PSS) for Black Women Only ........83 4-35 Final Model Regression Co efficients for Negative Stre ss of (PSS) for Black Women Only........................................................................................................................... .........83 4-36 Summary of Predictor Variables for Nega tive Stress for Female Graduate Students.......83


10 Abstract of Dissertation Pres ented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy PERCEIVED STRESS AMONG ETHNICA LLY DIVERSE FEMALE GRADUATE STUDENTS ATTENDING PREDOMINANT LY WHITE INSTITUTIONS By Lakisha M. Scott December 2006 Chair: Ellen Amatea Major Department: Mental Health Counseling The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of race, age, locus of control, coping style, and source of stress on the level of perceived stress reported by female graduate students attending predominantly White institutions . A convenience sample of Black and White graduate women was drawn from two large res earch-oriented universities with predominantly White student populations. A to tal of 494 participants comple ted an on-line survey, which included the Pearlin Mastery Scale, the Coping in Stressful Situati ons scale, the Graduate Stress Inventory-Revised, the Perceived Stress Scal e, and a forty-two question demographic questionnaire. Data was analyzed using stepwise regression anal yses and correlational analyses. Results indicated a significant a ssociation between emotion-focuse d coping and reported level of stress. Findings suggest that pe rsonal coping resources are more predictive of perceived stress level than racial group membership, age, locus of control, and/or stressors. Results of the study are presented, limitations are addressed, and the impli cations with regard to theory, practice, and research are discussed.


11 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Shifts in the views of and about women duri ng the past 30 years have been key to the rising expectations of women in higher education. A dramatic ch ange in the gender distribution of college students has taken place during the past decade. Women, since the early 1990s, are surpassing men in college gradua tion rates (Ntiri, 2001). Women’s educational aspirations also show tremendous growth, with nearly two-thirds of college women reporting that they expect to obtain professional and graduate degrees (Ntiri, 2001). Betw een 1994 and 2004, the number of female full-time graduate students increased by 66 percent, compared to a 25 percent gain of full-time male students. Among part-time gradua te students during the same time period, the number of men increased by 3 percent comp ared to a 17 percent increase for women (Department of Education, 2006). Studies of the trends among American college students reveal dramatic changes in the aspirations of female college students from 1966 to 2001, with women’s interest increasing in traditionally male career areas of engineering, medicine, law and business during this time period (Freeman, 2004; Astin, 1 998). At the graduate level, men make up 42 percent of total enrollment, wh ereas women make up the remaining 58 percent majority. Men are still in the majority in MBA, non-education doctorate, law, and Master of Science programs, but women have made strides in several traditiona lly male fields. Women now have a slight majority in enrollment in medicine, 51 percent, and other health scien ce professional programs, 53 percent (American Council on Education, 2006) . Astin (1998) cites the impact of the women’s movement of the 1970s and 1980s as the major impetus for women’s heightened educational and career expectations. Attitudes about the role of women, as a consequence of the movement, have shifted for men and women, maki ng it far more acceptable for women to aspire to equitable educational a nd career goals (Astin, 1998).


12 Current trends in college enrollment and gradua tion rates are in the di rection of a continued advancement of women of all ra cial and/or ethnic groups. For example, White women comprise 56% of the White college population while Bl ack women comprise 64% of Black college enrollment, and Latina women comp rise 58% of the Latino/a colle ge population (Peter & Horn, 2005). Although there has been an increase in the college enrollmen t of Black males, the Black female college population is growing at three times the ratio of th e Black male college population (American Council on Education, 2006). In addition, increasing numbers of Black Americans are being recruited to predominantly white colleges and universities (PWIs) (Brown, 2000; Schwitzer, Griffin, Ancis, & Thomas, 1999) . However, the successful entry and matriculation of Black students is frequently wro ught with barriers and obst acles that affect their psychological, social, academic, and professi onal development (Brown, Lipford-Sanders, & Shaw, 1995). These barriers and obstacles a ppear magnified for Black women, who have identified racism, sexism, frustration and isolat ion related to being bot h Black and a woman as barriers to their success. Statement of the Problem The experience of stress among women pursui ng graduate degrees has not been thoroughly investigated by social scientists. Even less inqu iry has been made into the stress experience of black women graduate students (Chavous, 2000). The scientific and analytic data on black women in higher education is limited methodologi cally by government and educational studies that only report data by gender or by race, but not by both (Johnson-Bailey 1999). Higher education in the United States has b een, from its inception, exclusionary and segregated. Graduate education for Black Americans was virtua lly nonexistent dur ing the first half of the twentieth century. Until the midtwentieth century, no historically Black college offered a doctoral degree in a discipline in the arts and sciences. With the exception of a few


13 institutions (Yale University, Harvard University , the University of Wisconsin), graduate or professional training was not availa ble to Blacks at predominantly White institutions (Harrison, 2001). Changing demographics in the entire nation have encouraged colleges and universities to address the issues relevant to cultural and ethnic diversity on their campuses (Arnold, 1993; Feagin, Vera, & Imani, 1996; Jackson, 1998; Ntiri, 2001; Slaughter, 1989). Now that educational opportunities are more readily available, greater numbers of Black students are attending post-secondary instituti ons, particularly at universities that have predominantly white student bodies. While all students may experience forms of marginality or exclusion during their college years, students of color in particular tend to feel marginalized more often. An experience of having been marginalized can negatively a ffect one’s academic and social experiences (Jackson, 1998). Research on Black students attending predominantly White institutions indicates that they often encounter difficulty in social and academic integration (Brown, Lipford-Sanders, & Shaw, 1995; Chavous, 2000; Douglas, 1999; Feagin, Hern an, & Imani, 1996; Smith & Moore, 2000; Taylor & Olswang, 1997). Black stud ents have also reported that the environments at PWIs are unwelcoming, hostile, and sometimes threaten ing (Ancis, Sedlacek, & Mohr, 2000; Douglas, 1999). Despite the increase in attendance of blac ks in these colleges, fewer of these students complete their degrees as compared to White students, 40 percent versus 60 percent (Carey, 2005). Low graduation rates among Black students who attend predominantly White institutions are often perceived as a byproduct of academic environmental stress and discord (Brown, 2000; Feagin et al., 1996; Taylor & Olswang, 1997). For this reason, researchers have become increasingly interested in understanding the ed ucational experience of black students who attend


14 predominantly White institutions, in developing and evaluating targeted programs of student recruitment and retention, and in offering academic and counseling services to meet their needs (Brown et al., 1995; Chavous, 2000; Kimbrough, Molock, Walton, 1996; Lester & Petrie, 1998; Smith & Moore, 2000; Taylor & Olswang, 1997). As a result, researchers have identified certain demographic, personal, cultural, or racial, factors that affect the adjustment and success of Black students attending predominantly White institutions. Studies have shown that the type of univer sity attended either a predominantly White university or a historically Black college a nd university (HBCU) can impact Black student success and quality of academic experience (Poindexter-Cameron & Robinson, 1997). Allen (1992) found that Black students at tending historically Black colle ges and universities received more academic and social support services than Black students attending predominantly White institutions. Allen (1987) contra sted the services and benefits provided by historically Black colleges and universities and predominantly Wh ite institutions and found that Black students attending historically Black co lleges and universities attained cultural connectedness, had a greater sense of well being, and were provide d additional and more diverse academic and program options. However, in a study looking at specific academic outcomes, Kim (2000) found no significant differences between historically Bl ack colleges and universities and predominantly White institutions in their abili ty to influence overall academic ability, writing ability, and math ability. Conversely, Brower a nd Ketterhagen (2004) explored the importance of individual students’ expectations about being successful co llege students and whether these expectations were matched to factors contributing to student success at historically Black colleges and universities and predominantly White institutions. They speculated that Black students at PWIs appeared to have to work harder to succeed, as if they were learning th e cultural rules of the


15 institution as they were not “tune d into” the factors that helped th em succeed at their institutions (Brower & Ketterhagen, 2004). Early studies that focused on Black women college student s specifically, noted some attitudinal differences depending on type of in stitution attended. Fleming (1984) found that Black women who attended predominantly White institutions were more socially assertive and independent than those attending historically Black colleges and universities. These women were also often ostracized for their assertiveness, experienced more failed relationships, and suffered from greater isolation. The lack of pr oportional representation of Black women on predominantly White institutions as in American society also contributed to the feelings of isolation (Howard-Vital, 1989). Carroll (1982) states, “Bl ack women in higher education are isolated, underutilized and often demoralize d..” (p. 184). Though Carro ll’s words are over two decades old, the sentiment remains the same (Chavous, 2000). Ellis (2001) found that both currently enrolled Black women students and degr ee recipients were the most isolated group of graduate students in her study of male and fema le White and Black doctoral students. In her longitudinal study, Fleming (1984) found that Black women experienced lower self esteem and diminished aspirations in both settings but even more so at predominantly White institutions. Although research on Black undergraduate st udents attending predominantly White institutions is emerging in the literature, ther e has been limited examination focused exclusively on Black graduate students. Moreover, there ha s been limited research on the experiences of Black graduate women as a separate and distin ct group from Black males. Additionally, the stress experience and coping experienced by these women has not been explored in any depth. This study contributes to the l iterature on the academic experi ence of Black graduate women


16 attending predominantly White institutions by exam ining their efforts to cope with the academic environment and demands of a graduate education. Theoretical Framework The theoretical framework under girding this in vestigation is the th eory of stress and coping proposed by R. S. Lazarus (1966). This th eory of psychological stress was first proposed by Lazarus (1966) and later refined by Lazarus and his colleagues (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen, & DeLongis, 1986; Lazarus, 1993; Lazarus & Folk man, 1984). While numerous studies have demonstrated that life stress plays a role in the onset of various ps ychological and physical disorders, there is large substantial variation in the effects of stre ss on individual well-being (Cohen & Williamson, 1988; DeLongis, Coyne, Dakof, Folkman, & Lazarus, 1982; Johnson & Sarason, 1979). Several important mediating and moderating variables have been examined to explain this variation, including cognitive appraisa l, coping, and social support (Folkman et al., 1986; Pearlin, 1989). Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) transactional model of stress, which has been highly influential in the study of stre ss, suggests that the degree of stress experienced in a given situation is due to the particular interaction between individual char acteristics and objective environmental stimuli (King, 2005). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) emphasized the role of cognitive appraisal, which they described as “an evaluative process that determines why and to what extent a particular transaction or seri es of transactions between the person and the environment is stressful” (p.19). Cognitive appr aisal includes one’s cate gorization of a given incident with respect to its significance for one ’s personal well-being. When a person is faced with an event, he or she evaluates whether the even t is relevant to his or her well-being, and if so, in what ways. Events appraised as highly signifi cant by the individual are more likely to result in stress reactions (Lazarus and Folkman’s, 1984).


17 It is normal to feel stress and almost every college student experiences some stress in his or her life. Studies of representative samples of st udents often report that students expressed worry, anxiety or stress as a major theme in their lives (Shirom, 1986). Some typical college stressors include roommate problems, test anxiety, deadline s, midterms, finals, rela tionships, pa rents, and school and work responsibilities. Some researchers have explored the differe ntial effects of gene ral and race-related stressors on college students’ academic, personal, and social adjustment (Neville, Heppner, Ji & Thye, 2004). Stress theory has become a domina nt theoretical framework for conceptualizing these differences and variations in the effects an d variations in the risk and protective factors implicated in these differences. A fundamental proposition underlying this framework is that various social statuses define the conditions of life to which individuals are subjected (Turner & Avison, 2003). Pearlin (1989) has urged that stress researchers describe th e structural contexts of people’s lives, arguing that st ressful events and circumstances are rooted in and arise out of these contexts. Turner and Lloyd (1 999) have shown that status vari ations in mental health arise to a substantial degree from status differences in stress exposure and in the availability of personal and social coping res ources (Turner & Avison, 2003). Coping is a response to specifi c situations that the indi vidual experiences as posing challenges that cause stress or anxiety. Coping is believed to be an important predictor of adaptation. Effective behavioral or cognitive coping responses to stress are believed to lead to increased feelings of efficacy and reduced leve ls of stress and anxiety (Gardner & Stern, 2002; Leguna & Stormshak, 2000). Research shows that coping is associated with psychological symptoms. In particular, coping strategies su ch as problem-solving, cognitive decision making, or other active strategies are associated with lower levels of symptoms, whereas avoidant


18 strategies are associat ed with higher levels of symptoms (Folkman et. al, 1986). However, differing approaches to managing stress can be equally successful. Important differences in personal histories a nd in current social conditions tend to be defined by social statuses such as gender, soci oeconomic status, and ethnicity. However, stress researchers traditionally have empha sized the efforts that individuals make to ward off distress or disturbance, and have paid little attention to the social ly structured variations in exposure to stressors characterizing different social status contexts (Tur ner & Avison, 2003). In support of this view, Neville, Heppner, and Wang (1997) suggest that Black students at predominantly White institutions experience some level of gene ral stress typically experienced by most college students as well as specific racial and cultural st ress. This latter cate gory of stress has not typically been addressed by researchers. Th e current study seeks to address this gap by exploring the stress experience of Black wome n graduate students attending predominantly White institutions. Need for the Study Many researchers who explore th e experiences of Black students at predominantly White institutions begin their research with the premise that all Black students on majority campuses are likely to feel alienated. Fo r much of the research about colle ge students, race is used as the defining category and the basis for comparativ e findings. Yet reporting group differences does little to inform readers about the characteristics of individual s within those groups and their interaction with the college e nvironment. Illuminating indivi duals’ collective experiences may help to explain their educational experiences and outcomes (Chavous, 2000). Black women have experienced dramatic impr ovements in their access to and opportunity for higher education in the last thirty years. However, far too many Black students leave colleges and universities without r eceiving a degree, particularly those who matriculate at PWIs


19 (Brown, 2000). As a result, increasing the college rete ntion of black students is a critical issue. Understanding the stress-related dynamics of women’s educationa l experience can lead colleges and universities to greater success in r ecruitment and retention efforts. Although there is a growing body of research that investigat es the experience of Black students in our nation’s White colleges a nd universities, most researchers have: focused on factors associated with failure and attrition, compared the experiences of Blacks to those of Whites, failed to address the experiences of Blacks in graduate education, nor addressed the experiences of Black female students. Universities and colleges conti nue to struggle to identify ways to meet the needs of this population, to effectively recruit them, and to help them successfully complete their degree programs (Brown et al., 1995; Ward, 1997). Purpose of This Study The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of five variables on the level of perceived stress reported by female graduate students. The five variables under investigation are: racial group membership, age, locus of control, coping style, and sources of stress. The sample for this study included 494 Black an d White female graduate students (i.e., 21-63 years of age) who currently attended a predomin antly White institution. The goal of this study was to explore the potential pers onal and environmental factors th at may contribute to perceived level of stress among Black female graduate st udents and to identify whether they differ from those experienced by White females in a similar institutional context.


20 Rationale for Approach Graduate school is a stressful experience for most students. Although Black college students typically encounter similar developmental tasks as their White c ounterparts, they also experience additional stressors at PWIs, such as recurrent problems of hostility and racism, poor rapport with faculty, inadequate social lives, and academic failure. These developmental stressors can lead to crises in academic and psycho social adjustment. With little research to date, Black women provide an appropriate sample with which to study the stre ss related experiences of pursuing a graduate education (Jones, 2004). Likewise, Steward, Giminez, and Jackson (1995) found that ther e were important differences within ethnic/racial gr oups based on gender. They argue d that issues relevant for one gender group within a ra cial/ethnic group may not be relevant for another. This finding is particularly important when pl anning student programs. Most campuses develop diversity programs for all Black students (Dillard, 1994) wit hout recognizing that wo men of color may be interested in topics that differ from those that might be of interest to men of color (Jackson, 1998). As this study investigates racial group membership, the terms Black, White, and Latino/a will be used instead of more ethnically and cu lturally related terms such as African American and European American. African American and bl ack are used interchangeably in the literature to refer to a member of an ethnic group in the United States and Canada whose ancestors, usually in predominant part, were indigenous to Africa. However, Blacks from non-African countries such as Haiti, Cuba, or the Dominican Republic are sometimes referred to (and may prefer) by their nation of origin and not African American (Sigel man, Tuch, & Martin, 2005). Research Questions The study addresses the follo wing research questions:


21 1. What is the relationship of raci al group membership to female graduate students’ perceived level of stress? 2. What is the relationship of age to female gr aduate students’ percei ved level of stress? 3. What is the relationship between locus of cont rol and female graduate students’ perceived level of stress? 4. What is the relationship between coping style an d female graduate stude nts’ perceived level of stress? 5. What is the relationship between sources of st ress and female graduate students’ perceived level of stress? 6. What is the contribution of racial group member ship, age, locus of control, coping style and source of stress to female graduate students’ perceived level of stress? Definition of Terms The following terms are operationally defined co rresponding to how they were used in the study. Academic stressor: refers to the demands of co mpleting a graduate degree. Avoidance-oriented coping: refers to use of or engagement of activities (distracting oneself with other situations or tasks or social diversion) aimed at avoiding stressful situations. Black: refers to a racial group considered indigenous to Afri ca, encompassing diverse ethnic and cultural traditions including females of African American and Caribbean American heritage. Coping: refers to the steps an individual takes to manage ex ternal and internal demands. Coping style: refers to characteristic or typical ma nner of confronting a stressful situation and dealing with it. Coping traits: refers to properties of persons that dispose them to react in certain ways. Emotion-oriented coping: refers to activities directed at lessening emotional distress and strategies such as avoidance, minimization, dist ancing, and selective attention.


22 Environmental stressor: refers to demand originating from the environmental context or composition of the surroundings. Ethnicity: The cultural practices, language, cuisine a nd traditions used to distinguish groups of persons—not biological or physical differences. Family stressor: refers to a demand originating from family related obligations. Monetary stressor: refers to a demand originating from monetary restraints associated with pursing a graduate degree. Graduate student: refers to an individua l enrolled in a graduate or professional program of study at a college or university. Latina: a racial group encompassing diverse et hnic and cultural traditions including females of Mexican, Spanish, Caribbean, and S outh and Central American heritage. Locus of control: refers to an individual’s beliefs regard ing the extent to which one is able to direct or influence outcomes. Perceived level of stress: refers to negative stress dete rmined by the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). Predominantly White institution (PWI): refers to a college or university where at least sixty percent or more of the entire student body identifies as members of the White race. Problem (Task)-oriented coping: refers to strategies di rected at defining problems, generating solutions, weighi ng alternatives and choosi ng among them to change. Psychological stress: refers to demands (or conflicts among them) that exceed available resources. Stress symptoms: refers to physical and emotional responses to demands. Stressor: refers to enduring problems that have the potential for arousing threat.


23 Demands made by the internal or external envi ronment that upset balance, thus affecting physical and psychological well-being and requiri ng action to restore balance (Lazarus & Cohen, 1977). White: refers to a racial group considered indigenous to Europe, encompassing diverse ethnic and cultural traditions including females of American, European, and non-Latina heritage. Overview of Remainder of Study The remainder of the study is organized into four chapters. Relevant literature is reviewed in the next chapter followed by a descripti on of the research methodology. The succeeding chapter presents the research re sults of the data analysis. Th e study concludes with a discussion of major findings, implications, limitations , and suggestions for future research.


24 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW Introduction This study examined the influence of five variables on the perceived stress reported by Black and White female graduate students attend ing predominantly White Institutions (PWIs). This chapter provides an overview of the literatu re relevant to the st udy including: psychological stress theory, the academic experience of female graduate students and that of Black students attending PWIs, student stressors, the impact of locus of control, coping styles, and summary of relevant literature. Psychological Stress Theory Stress theory, a key theory in health psychology and in environmental psychology, provides a framework for understanding how peopl e react to a wide va riety of threats and challenges. According to this theory, stress is “a particular relations hip between the person and the environment that is appraised by the person as taxing or exceeding hi s or her resources and endangering his or her well being” (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984, p. 19). The theory defines an environmental stressor quite broadly, as an elem ent of a person’s environment that is unpleasant and/or that threatens the person’ s well-being in some ways. Lazar us and his associates (Folkman et al., 1986) identify four main types of stressors within this theoretical framework: cataclysmic events (such as floods and earthquakes), stressful life events (such as divorce , or death of a close relative), daily hassles (such as pressure at work or a long commute to work or school), and ambient stressors (such as chronic air pollution, noise, or crowding). Some environmental stressors (e.g., air polluti on) can have a direct negative impact on a person (e.g., permanent breathing difficulties). Ho wever, according to this psychological stress theory, negative psychological eff ects can occur only after a person perceptually and cognitively appraises an environmental element as a stressor (Folkman et. al, 1986). Two


25 perceptual/cognitive processes are involved: primary appraisal which assesses the nature and magnitude of the environmental element and seco ndary appraisal which evaluates the degree to which the person’ coping skills and resources are su fficient to meet the challenge of the potential stressor (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). If the pr imary appraisal process determines that the environmental element poses a threat but the s econdary appraisal proce ss determines that the person has immediate and direct control over th e environmental element, then the person will suffer few if any negative psychol ogical effects. For instance , if a person hears loud, raucous music coming from next door while he/she is tr ying to study, but also knows that the neighbor will graciously turn off the stereo if asked, the pe rson will experience little distraction or stress, or any other negative psychologi cal effects of non-control. The perceived personal control significantly or totally negates the negative effects of the stressors, even if the person does not actually take action. In other words, the mere know ledge or perception of control is sufficient to reduce or remove the effects of ma ny stressors (Gardner & Stern, 2002). In the case where the above-described stress or is perceived as unpleasant or harmful and one in which the person perceives no immediate and direct control, the theory holds that the person will then invoke a coping strategy. Accordi ng to Lazarus and colleagues, (Folkman et. al, 1986 ) a person may use one of two types of copi ng strategies: problem-focused coping or emotion-focused coping. In problem-focused copi ng the person exerts control over the stressor, but not in the simple and immediate way descri bed above. The person thinks up and executes new behavior that diminishes the stressor (e.g., w earing earplugs to filter out noise from music next door or moving to another apartment in a more extreme case). When problem-focused coping is not employed, individuals often resort to emotion-focused coping. Emotion-focused coping involves cognitive and behavioral effort s to lessen the unpleasant emotions caused by the


26 stressor, or to better tolerate them (e.g., hitting a punching bag to deal with the anger resulting from the music interrupting the person’s attempt to study or deciding that st udying at that time is not very important) (Endler & Pa rker, 1994; Gardner & Stern, 2002). Although researchers have used the Lazarus a nd Folkman (1984) model of stress appraisal and coping to study the experiences of Blacks rega rding racism, researchers have concluded that the model is not wholly suitable for such pur poses. Outlaw (1993) modified the conceptual framework of coping posited by Lazarus and Folkma n when applying it to understand the coping behaviors of Blacks dealing with racism. The c oping behaviors of Blacks confronted with racial discrimination were examined using three majo r components of the Lazarus and Folkman model: person and environment interaction, primary appr aisal {harm/loss, threat , and challenge}, and secondary appraisal. Subseque ntly, when Blacks experience an encounter with racism, an assessment is made of the situa tion as either harm/loss, threat, or challenge. Outlaw (1993) eliminated the option of a benign positive or irrelevant appraisal as one possible option for Blacks making a cognitive appraisal of an encounter with racism. Instead she proposed that all encounters with racism would be viewed either as a threat, a ha rm/loss, or a challenge but never as irrelevant or benignly positive. Moreover, according to Outlaw’s revised model, a harm/loss appraisal might result in a passive reaction such as withdrawal or depression. When a threat appraisal is made following a st ressful situation related to ra cial discrimination, anticipatory coping is likely to develop. In contrast, challe nge appraisals encourag e emotional development on the part of African Americans who have enco untered a stressful situ ation involving racial discrimination. Secondary apprai sal occurs after the primary appraisal phase of the stressful situation and is the process by which it is determ ined whether or not one has the resources to cope with the stressor bei ng encountered (Outlaw, 1993; Utsey, et al., 2000).


27 Utsey and Ponterotto (1996) suggest that in terpretation of racist and discriminatory encounters is filtered through “past experiences with racism, knowledge of other’s experiences with racism, and knowledge about the systematic nature of racism” (p. 490). Therefore, racist and discriminatory situations or encounters are likely to be apprai sed automatically as stressful. Outlaw’s model takes racism into account by evalua ting it as a cognitive st ressor. As a result, she offers a more culturally relevant framew ork for understanding the coping experiences of African American women. The Academic Experience of Female Graduate Students Over the past 35 years women have increased their participation in all fields of study, however they remain underrepresented in traditio nally male dominated fields (Freeman, 2004). Across academic fields, especially traditionall y male dominant fields, women have often reported experiencing a harsh academic climate in which their work is not recognized with the same accolades and praise as that of their ma le counterparts even though their work was as scholarly. These women also describe feeling disa dvantaged because they ha ve little intellectual contact with their male instructors and this contac t is restricted to the l ecture room. In addition, female graduate students describe a feeling of pressure to perfo rm, a double obligation to justify their presence by their achievements (Nerad & Cerny, 1999). According to Nerad and Cerny (1999), women’s ability to succeed appears to be affected by their proportional representation in a group. Their small numbers in some career fields results in isolation, which in turn, in creases stress, impedes research progress, and can lead to abandonment of graduate study a nd professional career. When the faculty is predominantly male, women often experience a lack of role models and deprivation of the inspiration and assurance that they can succeed (Nerad & Cerny, 1999). Scarcity of women faculty and role models occurs most frequently in the physical sciences and least frequently in the social


28 sciences. Female faculty are sc arce, especially in proportion to the rising numbers of female graduate students, thus placing women students at a disadvantage in finding mentors. The issue is also significant because women appear to be more sensitive to the supportiveness of the academic environment than are men (Howar d, 1996; Moyer, Salovey, & Casey-Cannon, 1999). Ellis (2001) found that having a mentor or a goo d academic adviser was critical to students’ social and academic integration into a doctoral program, influenced participants’ satisfaction with doctoral study, and was probably the most important aspect of students’ lives. One of the most basic and important con cepts summarizing the difficulties faced by women in higher education is what Freeman (1989) described as the “null educational environment.” A null environment, as defined by Freeman, is a setting that neither encourages nor discourages individuals; it simply ignores them. In effect the individual is left at the mercy of whatever environmental or personal resource s to which she or he has access. Although both male and female students report being ignored by faculty, male students reported receiving more encouragement and support from others such as parents, friends, relatives , and significant others . Freeman (1989) asserted that “an academic situat ion that neither encourages nor discourages students of either sex is inherently discriminato ry against women because it fails to take into account the differentiating external environments from which women and men students come,” (p.221) where external environments refer to diff erences in familial, peer, and societal support for career pursuits. A decade later, Nerad and Cerny (1999) support Freeman’s assertion as their research showed that the overt acts of disenfra nchisement of female gr aduate students were not necessarily the most damaging or concerning. Instead, those unseen and unheard acts that contribute to an unhealthy academic environment fo r female graduate students were the most damaging.


29 The impact of other obligations is also a majo r factor in female gr aduate students’ stress experience. Other studies have shown that fema le graduate students, compared to their male colleagues, suffer more stress and distress, in co mbination with less support from their family and academic departments (Moyer et. al., 1999; Pa dula, 1994, Padula, 1999). Women are more likely than men to be part-time students, receive little financial support, lack collegial networks, and have family responsibilities that compet e with activities require d to achieve academic success. In addition, subtle forms of sexism are experienced by women, such as stereotyping women and unfriendly environments (Moye r, et. al., 1999; Turner & Thompson, 1993). For minorities, a notable barrier is “symbolic racism” whereby overt forms of prejudice are condemned while access to sources of support, in formation, and other resources are informally denied. Tokenism, lowered expectations of pe rformance, lack of minority peers and faculty, exclusion, being held as an example or spoke sperson for a given ethnic group, pressure to do work related to their ethnicity, racial insensitiv ity, and racism were also reported by a quarter of the minority participants in a study conducted by Moyer a nd her colleagues of 224 White, Latina, Black, and Asian American female gr aduate students (Moyer et al., 1999). Such problems emanated from all levels, from the interp ersonal to the institutional. There was little difference in the concerns expressed by minor ity and non-minority women. However, Black respondents identified concerns re lated specific to their ethnicity more frequently, than the other three groups. It is important to note that increasing nu mbers of women are reentering educational institutions or the labor force af ter an absence ranging from a few years to as many as 35 years or to women changing careers. Women who fall into this category are often referred to as “reentry women.” Ranging in age from 25 years to 65 year s and older, most reen try women are between


30 25 and 54 years of age (Padula, 1994). Approxima tely 42% of college students in enrolled in 1997 were 25 years and older, 56% of which we re women (Thomas, 2001). Therefore, older women have become a more visible subgroup on college campuses. Within this subgroup are women of different races, economic backgrounds a nd cultures. However, black graduate and undergraduate women comprise the largest number of reentry students of co lor at the graduate and undergraduate level with their numbers bein g twice that of the other groups of color (Johnson-Bailey, 2004). Reentry women present with their own unique experience and set of challenges. Today’s typical reentry woman is juggling the demands of family, young children and fullor part-time employment. Responsibilities include being a wi fe, mother, wage-earner, community member, or a combination of several ro les (Padula, 1999). The blendi ng of school and family is particularly challenging for colle ge reentry women (Gigliotti, 2004). Studies indicate that women consistently express conf lict between school and family, while their male counterparts rarely mention family demands as a deterren t or concern (Gigliotti, 2004; Johnson-Bailey, 1999; Johnson-Bailey & Cervero, 1996; Padula, 1994; Padula, 1999; Thomas, 2001) Black Students Attending Predominantly White Institutions Researchers across fields have been increasi ngly interested in the educational experience of undergraduate and graduate Black students attending predominantly White institutions (PWIs). Such information is used to develop and evaluate targeted progra ms of recruitment and retention and to design appropr iate academic and counseling services (Brown, et al., 1995; Chavous, 2000; Kimbrough, Molock, Walton, 1996; Lester & Petrie, 1998; Smith & Moore, 2000; Taylor & Olswang, 1997). In the 1980s and 1990s, researchers identif ied several concerns that Black undergraduate and graduate students typically experience at PWIs. (Allen, 1982; Brown et al., 1995; Chavous, 2000; Douglas, 1999; Harrison, 2001; Smith & Moore, 2000;


31 Taylor & Olswang, 1997). Black graduate students reported greater concerns about poor social and academic integration, racism, and a shortage of mentors than did White graduate students who attended PWIs. From a survey of 400 Black graduate student s who attended PWIs, Allen (1982) concluded that most students were” not thoroughly integrat ed into the social li fe of their respective schools” (p. 4). A lack of campus activities at PWIs that consider ed the social needs of blacks has also been cited. Allen (1982) found that only 20% of Black students attending PWIs experienced a sense of belonging. In addition, 25% of Black stude nts in the study felt excluded by faculty from participating in faculty research (Allen, 1982). Findings from the emerging body of research over the last twenty years support Allen’s early findi ngs. This research generally suggests that Black college st udents attending PWIs on average, experience additional stress related to being a racial minority in a predominantly White setting (Ancis et. al, 2000; Neville, Heppner, Ji, & Thye, 2004). Bowman (1992) sugge sted that the social system and other coping mechanisms at PWIs were Eurocentric. She also pointed out that the establishment of Black cultural houses and organizations on PWIs did not change th e cultural climate of these institutions. Instead, Bowman contends that th ese support structures re inforced Black college students’ awareness of their separateness and conv eyed the message that Blacks do not “fit” into the culture of the academy (Alexander-Snow, 2000) . A study by Ancis et al. (2000) supports Bowman’s (1992) findings as Black students reported more negativ e experiences compared with Asian American, Latino/a, and White students. Black students experienced greater racial-ethnic hostility; greater pressure to conform to stereotypes; less equitable treatment by faculty, staff, and teaching assistants; and more faculty racism than did other groups (Ancis et al., 2000). As Feagin and Sikes (1994) pointed out, Black undergraduate and graduate students have little


32 opportunities for desired and needed socialization. Some researchers posit that “a sense of control” over one’s life and the ability to interact socially are more important factors to Black student persistence, than academic motivation, educational aspirations, and verbal aptitude (Alexander-Snow, 2000; Br uce & Thornton, 2004). Lacking social support and full integr ation into the campus community, Black undergraduate and graduate students have report ed the environment of PWIs as unreceptive, antagonistic, and intimidating (D ouglas, 1999). As a result of this unwelcoming environment, Black students who attend PWIs, often have signif icantly lower graduation rates when compared to White students attending the same instituti ons (Brown, 2000; Feagin et al., 1996; Taylor & Olswang, 1997). Although structural and environmental characteris tics of an institution help shape students’ social interacti on and behavioral attit udes, it is the perceived environment that has the greatest influence on whether not Black st udents’ collegiate experiences are satisfying and rewarding. Thus, academic achievement for Bl ack students who attend PWIs will be affected by their level of social in tegration. Successful social integrati on is reflected in their perceptions of the quality of life at thei r institution, including their vi ew of the level of academic competition, inter-group relationships, relationships with faculty and friends, and the extent of social support networks on campus (Alexande r-Snow, 2000). Adjusting to the social environment seems to be central to the success of many Black students in mostly White Settings (Schwitzer, Griffin, Ancis, & Thomas, 1999). Social support also appears to be a major determinant of college success and satisfaction for Black undergraduate and gradua te students, particularly thos e attending PWIs (Brown, 2000). Strong and supportive campus interpersonal relationships play an important role in Black college students’ satisfaction with college and academic persistence. Unfortunately most studies


33 concerning the relationship between social support and Black student s’ adjustment to PWIs have not used multidimensional conceptualizations of social support as suggested by contemporary social support researchers (e.g. Sarason, Sarason, & Pierce, 1 990). The few researchers who have examined social support as multidimensional c onstruct, rather than as a unitary construct, present somewhat conflicting results. Thus, the dimensions of support which are critical to Black students’ college adjustment remain unclear (Brown, 2000). An integral component to improving and unde rstanding the college adjustment and needs of Black undergraduate and graduate students is understanding the heterogeneity that exists among Black students. Much of the college ad justment literature is grounded in cross-race comparative paradigms. As a result, our understa nding of the ways in which Black students may differ from one another in thei r college adjustment experiences has been obscured. One obvious way in which Black students may differ from one another is that of gender (Brown, 2000). Student Stressors College is a stressful experience for most st udents. Wolniewicz (1996) reported that the most prevalent stressors for all graduate students were anxiety ove r finishing large projects (i.e. thesis or dissertations), role strain (from extr acurricular obligations a nd responsibilities), and learning the unspoken departmental rules and cult ure. These academic demands often led to physical consequences such as a lack of sleep, gain ing weight due to a lack of exercise, and even hair loss. In addition, lack of quality of contact with partners, family members and friends were also reported (Wolniewicz, 1996). Traditionally, studies of Black college st udents and school outcomes have relied on demographic characteristics as independent vari ables. On the average these students have parents with lower incomes, less prestigious jobs , fewer years of education and are more often from single parent homes when compared to White students. These factors have been used to


34 help explain the differences between Black a nd White students overall college adjustment and academic success (Chavous, 2000). Neville, et al., (2004) assert th at the level and type of stre ss that Black students encounter has not been adequately studied. This is an important omission because empirical evidence suggests that different types of stressors (such as daily hassles or negative life events) have a differential impact on the mental health of th e general population (e.g. DeLongis, Coyne, Dakof, Folkman, & Lazarus, 1982). Stressors identified by Black undergraduate and graduate students attending PWIs include academic (classes, homework, tests); finances; time management; a lack of Black students; and racism (Cooper, Mahler , & Whitt, 1994; Cureton, 2003; Neville et. al, 2004). Chiang, Hunter and Yeh (2004) reported Bl ack undergraduates indicated school grades and relationship with family as their most freque nt concerns. These resp ondents also cited job search, procrastination, career choi ce, and relationship with friends as frequent stressors. The nature and frequency of stressful events is likely affected by membership in a racial or ethnic group (Seaton, 2003). The definition of ra ce as social groupings based on visible physical characteristics, suggests that Bl acks may encounter stressful even ts more frequently than White Americans (Sigelman et. al., 2005). Much of this stress may be attribut ed to racism, racial discrimination, racial prejudice, and race-related stress (Seato n, 2003; Utsey, et Al., 2000). Research does not typically assess the degree to which participants identify experiences with racism as stressful. Findings from the emergi ng body of research genera lly suggest that Black college students attending PWIs, on average, expe rience additional stress rela ted to being a racial minority in predominantly White setting and th is additional stress aff ects their adjustment process (Ancis, et al., 2000; Nevi lle et al., 2004). Additionall y, studies (May & Christenfeld, 1999; King, 2005) report that Black women report unusually high levels of stress because of the


35 combination of being both female and members of a racial minority grou p. Taylor and Olswang (1997) suggest that because of the intersection of racism and sexism, Black women have more negative outcomes such as lower self esteem and diminished aspirations at PWIs than do Black men (Brown, 2000). Locus of Control Locus of control, also referre d to as self-efficacy, refers to an individual’s belief about what causes certain outcomes. Weiner (1986) pr oposes that people attrib ute their success and failures to internal or external reinforcers. “I nternal people” attribute suc cess and failure to their ability or effort. An “internal person” attribut es his/her performance to cause for which he/she assumes personal responsibility. “External people” attribute thei r performance to factors for which they have no responsibility and over which they have no cont rol. If he/she fails, the “external person” assumes that the task was too di fficult or that he/she wa s unlucky (or both). If the “external person” succeeds, he/she attributes he /her success to the easi ness of the task or to luck (Weiner, 1986; Howard, 1996). Strain (1993) asserts that alt hough factors of intrinsic motivat ion are a basis for students’ persistence behavior, only one conc rete, measurable motivational fact or; that of locus of control, has been supported by research evidence. Research shows that students with an internal locus of control will persist longer in college (Njus & Brockway, 1999; Davis & Palladino, 2000). Njus and Brockway (1999) found that students with an internal locus of control showed better adjustment to college in terms of academic achie vement and social adjustment. These students also display more effective coping strategies, wh ich leads to better psycho logical adjustment and reduces negative health affects associated with high stress (Davis and Palladino, 2000). Some researchers (McCombs, 1991) suggest th at what underlies the internal locus of control is the concept of “self as agent.” Th is means that our thoughts control our actions and


36 that when we realize this executive function of thinking we can positively affect our beliefs, motivation, and academic performance. “The se lf as agent can consciously or unconsciously direct, select, and regulate the use of all knowledge structures and intellectual processes in support of personal goals, intentions, and choice s” (p.6). McCombs (1991) asserts that “The degree to which one chooses to be self-determi ning is a function of one ’s realization of the source of agency and personal control” (p. 7). In other words, we can say to ourselves, “I choose to direct my thoughts and energies toward accomp lishment. I choose not to be daunted by my anxieties or feelings of inadequacy.” Julian Rotter (1966) developed the locus of cont rol construct as an effort to combine the older, more established reinforcement approaches with the newly developed cognitive approach (Haidt & Rodin, 1999). In the 1960’s and 1970’s, lo cus of control became a topic of research interest. The social learning approach was very popular and th is new construct fueled its popularity. The 1960’s were also a time of civil unrest; minority groups were slowly gaining recognition. Some motivational a pproaches were describing minority groups as unmotivated and as having a poor work ethic. This view was unfavorable and contribut ed to the oppression of minority groups. The locus of control construct wa s used to dispel this sentiment. However, criticism of the original Rotter I-E scale has centered on its apparent lack of internal consistency when used with blacks. Acknowledging this we akness and drawing from research on locus of control generated during ten years of application Rotter (1975) re-c onceptualized the construct as possessing a domain specific charac teristic, therefore locus of c ontrol orientation was seen as domain or situation specific (Gaa & Shores, 1979) . Rotter (1990) later posited that locus of control was largely situational and was a product of th e interaction between an individual and his/her environment.


37 Cultural, Racial and Gender Differences in Locus of Control Research reveals that a sense of control vari es across different segments of the population. Coleman’s (1966) research with Rotter’s I-E Sc ale found that minority po pulations did not differ on achievement motivation, however they did diffe r on locus of control (Haidt and Rodin, 1999). Black populations tended to have an external orientation whereas White populations tended to have an internal orientation. Haidt and Rodin (1999) posited that the social and economic oppression felt by minority communities led them to develop an external rather than internal locus of control. An external locus of cont rol among Blacks was attributed to the fact that Blacks, as members of a disadvantaged ethni c minority group, have more limited access to opportunities (Ayalon & Young, 2005). Beginning in the middle 1970’s and continuing through the early 1980’s, studies focused on determining the extent of the influence that cult ure had on locus of control. This literature is both extensive and detailed in its scope of e xperimentation, but generally follows the use of assessment methodology, such as Rotter’s locus of c ontrol scale. Origina lly, researchers drew the conclusion that one’s culture was largely a function of the internality and externality that the individual possesses. However, it was not long be fore these findings were disputed. Previous studies were criticized because the study participants used di d not accurately represent their culture, therefore defeating the entire purpose of the study (Otterman, 2005). Other researchers (Brown, Fulkerson, Furr, Ware, & Voight, 1984; Levenson, 1981; McNeil & Jacobs, 1980) proposed that there were more relevant contribu tors to one’s locus of control, ranging from gender socialization to ethnic group socialization practices. Levenson (1974, 1975, 1981) examined external orientation in more depth. Levenson (1974, 1975) makes a distinction between the two t ypes of external orientation-belief in chance and belief in powerful others. Disadvantaged me mbers of American society have been found to


38 have a stronger external control orientat ion (Wenzel, 1992). Levenson (1974, 1981) has argued that the thoughts and actions asso ciated with belief that outcomes are determined by chance may be different from those associated with a belief that outcomes are controlled by powerful others. The fundamental difference between a belief in control by chance and a belief in control by powerful others is that, in the latter case, the po tential for control exists (Levenson, 1981). Black students, and Black and Latino/a ad ult felons have demonstrated a stronger belief in control by powerful others than have their White counter parts (Wenzel, 1992; Garcia & Levenson, 1975). These findings reflect the generally disadvantaged status of persons of color relative to that of Whites. Wenzel (1992) reports that the disadvant aged economic status of Blacks is a permanent feature of the American economy. Such disparities underscore the fact that, for many individuals in American society, the perception that “pow erful others” control outcomes is realistic. Other research studies conduc ted by Gaa and Shores (1979) and Krampen and Weiberg (1981) suggest that cultu re may be linked to locus of cont rol. Gaa and Shores (1979) reported considerable differences among Bl ack, White, and Latino/a undergradu ates in their internal or external sense of control. However, Gaa a nd Shores found that locus of control was not dependent on culture, but on the specific domains to be cont rolled under inves tigation. For example, the Black and Latino/a students were more internal than the White students in regard to relative success in intellectual activities. An example of success in inte llectual activities might be scoring high on the ACT or SAT. On the other hand, the Black students were found to be substantially more external than both the White and Latino/a students with respect to failure in the physical domain. A real-lif e example of failure in the physical domain might include anything from general health problems to losing in a marathon. “The findings substantiate the assumption that domain specific locus of control measures reflect distin ct, but not consistent,


39 differences in culturally dive rgent populations” (Gaa & Shores , 1979 p. 6). This notion that culture is just one aspect in re gard to particular domains of lo cus of control is evident in the research conducted by Krampen and Weiberg (19 81), who found differences in the internality and externality of American, Japanese , and German students (Otterman, 2005) Studies using race as an independent variable find racial differences in sense of control (Mirowsky, Ross, & Van Willigen, 1996; Wolin sky & Stump, 1996; Shaw & Krause, 2001). This research yields results show ing racial minorities feel less in control than do Whites. These racial differences in personal control appear to persist across the life course. Shaw and Krause (2001) report that Blacks, compared with White s, have a lower sense of control for all age groups. Nonetheless, few studies to date provide insight into th e factors that determine control specifically among Blacks. Tashakkori (1991) examined racial and gender di fferences in self pe rception and locus of control during adolescence and early adulthood in a longitudinal sample of Black and White men and women. Black men and wome n perceived greater external control on control measures pertaining to both cultural and pe rsonal efficacy, although they had slightly greater expectations about future academic success. Women participan ts tended to show less self-efficacy than men, and there were no interactions between race a nd gender. Likewise Nemeroff and Midlarsky (2000) found that personal-control orientations varied by both race and gender. Men saw themselves as more in control over causes than did women, but women felt more control over solutions than did men. Blacks perceived themse lves as more responsible for both causes and solutions than did Whites (Bruce & Thornton, 2004). McNeil and Jacobs (1980) reported that women were more external than men. Brown, et al., (1984) reported race and sex in teractions for locus of control, with Black women scoring as


40 more external than White women. However, Wa rd (1986) points out th at while Brown et al., (1984) did find differences among r acial and gender groups, the di fferences were actually in terms of degree of internality. White women we re more internal than Black women, but Black women were also internal. Beale (1970) suggests that Black women are subject to double jeopardy (i.e., both racism and se xism) and Black women are constr ained due to this. Therefore they should be more external in locus of c ontrol than Black men, White women, and White men. (Wade, 1996). The results from efforts examining the rela tionship between gender and personal control care inconclusive. Whereas in some studies (Bro wn et al., 1984; McNeil and Jacobs 1980; Ross & Mirowsky, 2002) gender has an impact, in ot hers (Shaw & Krause, 2001) gender does not have a statistically significant influence on perceptions of c ontrol (Bruce & Thornton, 2004; Tashakkori, 1991). It is important to note that evidence of racial differences in perceptions of personal control emerge from studies examining he impact of other factors influencing those perceptions such as cognitive impairment (Sha w & Krause, 2001) and physical functioning and perceived health (Ross & Miro wsky, 2002; Bruce & Thornton, 2004) . A number of questions remain about the determinants a ssociated with personal control. Coping Styles The general consensus among stress researcher s is that an individual’s well being is influenced by the amount of stress experienced and by how well the indivi dual copes with stress (Lazarus, 1977; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978). Patterns of maladaptive coping eventually may lead students to experience personal cr ises. If unresolved, these patterns may eventually damage a student’s psychological and physio logical well-being (Polson & Ni da, 1998). Smith and Dust (2006) suggest that in order to understand an individual’s respons e to stress, one also must understand the individual’s dispositional traits a nd proclivities. That is, personal dispositions


41 may predispose people to coping strategies, possibl y because they influence the appraisals they make regarding the demands placed on them, and th e resources they have available to cope with those demands. Furthermore, contextual fact ors (e.g. race, ethnicit y, cultural background, socioeconomic status) may also influence how an individual copes with everyday stressors (Chavous, 2000; Smith & Dust, 2006). From anecdotal responses given by undergra duate and graduate students in a study conducted by Cooper, Mahler, and Whitt (1994) they identified coping skills such as talking with friends, calling family, listening to music, exer cising and praying. Their responses were not categorically different based on race, however successful Black students developed a “survival kit” of coping responses that extended beyond typical student respons es to stressors and demands. These responses included: seeking fam ily support, socializing with Black peers and colleagues, and relying on their sp iritual foundations and resources. Individuals who enter new settings may conf ront a number of demands that may have implications for adaptation in those settings. A critical factor that may influence the degree to which individuals cope successfully is prior expe riences. Specifically, the level of congruence between students’ prior experiences and the new circumstances defining th e new setting, may be central to their degree of adaptation or difficulty in adaptation. For individuals adjusting to a setting in which they are the minority, the importance of congruence may be magnified (Chavous, 2000). Allen’s finding (1992), as cited in Jackson (1998), suggest that Black students’ perceptions of support and responses to various challenges have a greater impact on academic experiences in PWIs than prior achievement. Eighty-one percent of Bl ack doctoral recipients said they relied on personal and family reso urces as a primary source of emotional support during their education (Otuya, 1994).


42 Several researchers (Cook & Wiley, 2000; Le ong, Wagner, & Tata, 1995) have posited that Black cultural values, such as emphases on fa mily, social networks, and religion influence Black students’ use of coping strategies. Centra l to culture-specific coping among Blacks is an Afrocentric worldview (Utsey, Adams, and Bold en, 2000) which stresses harmony with nature, spirituality, social time perspe ctive, and collective consci ousness (Chiang, Hunter, & Yeh, 2004). Chiang, Hunter, and Yeh’s ( 2004) results support these findings as the Black participants reported religious and social activ ities as frequent ways of copi ng with stressful situations. In addition, participants also reported talking with friends, keeping concerns to themselves, and talking with a significant other or with pare nts as their most fre quent coping resources. When social support has been examined a variab le in studies, generally it has related to adjustment, retention, and progression of Black st udents. Researchers have suggested that Black students who attend PWIs experience unique adju stments compared to those of other college students. Usually Black students create their own social and cultural networ ks within the larger college community in order to cope with isolation. To ward off feelings of isolation, depression, and loneliness, Black students at PWIs often develop support systems such as Black student unions, sororities, and fraternitie s (Kimbrough, Molock, & Watson, 1996). The majority of literature that examines Black women and coping is in the context of depression and depressive symptoms (Cor bett, 1999; Orozco, 1996; Wilson, 1994). For example, Jones (2004) suggests Black women can be characterized as trying to understand and actively cope with their realitie s in ways that permit them to survive in a perceived hostile environment. Johnson-Bailey and Cervero (1996 ) qualitatively examined the coping styles during college reentry of nontraditional age Black undergraduate and graduate women. Three strategies were reported. The women used sile nce, negotiation, and resi stance to respond to the


43 direct impact of racism, sexism, classism, a nd colorism (intra-racial discrimination based on preference for lighter skin shades) inside and outs ide of the classroom. Silence occurred as an internal and external strategy. Internal silence appeared during those times when participants could not think of or face an issue because it wa s too painful. External silence was exhibited when the women refused to answer questions or participate in activities because they equated silence as the safer course of action. Many of the women also spoke of silence as a familiar strategy from their familial backgrounds where it was encouraged to “be quiet” and things might work out. The second theme to emerge in JohnsonBailey and Cervero’s (1996) study was negotiation, also both internal and external. In several instance s participants recounted times when they had silently arbitrated the best c ourse to pursue concerning classroom interactions with professors or classmates regarding how to find the middle ground or a path of least resistance. On other occasions negotiation was more external in nature with participants negotiating household chores or family responsibili ties in order to have time for school. The third theme was resistance. Unlike the other two coping mechan isms, resistance only occurred on the external level. It was open defiance of rules or acti ons that participants perceived as unfair. It was the least used of the copi ng strategies. In most of the incidents, resistance involved the simple act of speaking ou t. These women had been socialized by their families and by society at large to be silent or to negotiate. When the women in this study chose confrontation or resistance, it was an alternat ive preceded by much thought and internal strife (Johnson-Bailey & Cervero, 1996). Additionally, research findings have been cons istent when describing how Black students at PWIs cope with their feelings of isolation, discrimination, and general dissatisfaction in their


44 academic environment (Feagin & Sikes, 1994; C ooper, et al., 1994; Brower & Ketterhagen, 2004; Chiang et. al., 2004). Research shows th at Black students at PWIs very often feel connected to others with sim ilar racial and ethnic backgrounds while the whole group remains alienated from the campus at large (Brower & Ketterhagen, 2004; Feagin & Sikes, 1994). Summary The stress women experience while pursuing graduate degrees has not been thoroughly investigated by social scientists. Even less inqu iry has been made into the stress experience of Black women graduate students. The scientific and analytic data on Black women in higher education has been confined by the cultural para meters that only report data by gender or by race, not gender and race (Johnson-Bailey, 1999). A review of the literature results in two majo r conclusions. First, it is difficult to know what is occurring with Black women in hi gher education because major government and educational studies report data by sex or by race. Women and peopl e of color are considered the major designated minorities, yet no major data sets cross reference the two groups. Second, although there is a growing body of research that investigates Black st udents attending PWIs, most of those studies investigate factors associat ed with failure and attr ition, and still fewer of those address the experiences of Blacks pursu ing graduate degrees. Even fewer studies specifically investigate Black female graduate students. Likewise, mental health re searchers have identified the concepts of psychosocial competence (that is, locus of control, coping, and self efficacy) and cultural diversity (that is, race, sex, and culture) as constructs cent ral to improving models for understanding and enhancing the psychological we ll-being of Black Americans (Jones, 2004). Therefore, the variables of race, locus of control, coping style, and stressors were chosen in this study for further investigation.


45 Control is a correlate with status attainment, psychologica l and physical well-being, and survival (Pearlin et al., 1981; Mirowsky, Ro ss, & Van Willigen, 1996; Bruce & Thornton, 2004) and is an integral aspect of the stress and coping process (Laz arus & Folkman, 1984). The idea of controlling one’s life has a number of overlap ping dimensions. Perceptions of agency delimit how far in school one will go and could affect the quality of edu cation received (Bruce & Thornton, 2004). Thus a clearer and more fully developed understanding of personal control for women seeking higher education is important. Given the clear relationship be tween level stress, particul arly psychological stress or distress among black students, it seems importa nt to further efforts on PWI campuses to understand the components to effective stress mana gement. Most of the research designed to delineate the processes that determine individu al coping behavior have focused on samples of primarily White, middle class participants or on younger adolescent populations (Smith & Dust, 2006). The literature clearly i ndicates that the ex perience of Black Americans differs significantly from that of White Americans and therefore it is unw ise to generalize results from white, middle class, or adolescent samples to sa mples of ethnic minorities or low-income adult populations. Blacks in general have been unders tudied, and Black graduate women even more so, thereby limiting the ability to provide effectiv e intervention or prevention programs, therefore the need for this study and exploring the chosen variables.


46 CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Overview There is an abundance of research on the st ress-related experien ces of undergraduate students, but a gap exists related to graduate st udents’ experiences of st ress; graduate women’s stress-related experiences and coping; and raci al and gender specifics of graduate women’s experiences of stress at predominantly White institu tions (PWIs). This study attempted to assess the influence of five variables (racial group member ship, age, locus of cont rol, coping style, and sources of stress) on the level of stress reported by female gr aduate students attending PWIs. Data was gathered on: Participants’ demographics, Locus of control as measured by Pearlin Mastery Scale (PM: P earlin & Schooler, 1978), Coping style as measured by the Coping Inventor y for Stressful Situations (CISS: Endler & Parker, 1999), Sources of stress as measured by the Gradua te Stress Inventory-Revised (GSI-R: RochaSingh, 1994), and Reported level of stress as measured by the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS: Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983). Population The sample was drawn from Black and White graduate women attending two large, research-oriented universities in the south east that had a predominantly White student population. In 2005, the total en rollment at University A was 50,512, of which 14,594 were graduate students. Among the graduate stude nts 7,394 were female and 7,200 were male. The ratio of White graduate students to Black gra duate students at Univer sity A is 15 to 1. (University of Florida, 2006). In 2005, the total enrollment at University B was 33,660, of which 8,456 were graduate students. Among the grad uate students 4,932 were female and 3,456 were


47 male. The ratio of White graduate students to Black graduate students at University B was 8:1. (University of Georgia, 2006). Sampling Procedures This study was conducted under the guideline s and protocol consistent with the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at the University of Florida. After obtaining IRB approval, a selected list of 100 department gr aduate coordinators and a select ed list of 12 graduate student organizations were contacted by electronic email through a letter. The letter that explaining the purpose of the study and requesting that an emai l letter that include d the study description, inclusion criteria and a link to th e research survey be forwarded to the student and organizational listservers. The on-line research survey included an in troduction to the study and directions; the informed consent; the Pearlin Mastery Scal e (PM: Pearlin & School er, 1978); the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS: Endler & Parker, 1999); the Graduate Stress InventoryRevised (GSI-R: Rocha-Singh, 1994); the Percei ved Stress Scale (PSS: Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983); and a forty-two question demographic questionnaire. Once the participants accessed th e on-line survey, they were asked to read the informed consent. If they agreed to the terms, they clicked on the “I have read the informed consent form above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the stu dy.” They were then forwarded to the on-line survey. Participants were not able to reach th e survey unless they agreed to the terms of the informed consent. The benefits to using the on-line survey incl uded the elimination of paper, postage, mailout, and data entry costs, as well as the re duced time required for survey implementation (Dillman, 2000; Murray & Fisher, 2002). One disa dvantage of using online surveys includes the inaccessibility to a computer for some populatio ns; however since 1998, University of Florida


48 students were required to have access to and basic knowledge of computer and email/internet applications. Further, given the emergence of the internet and email as crucial aspects of correspondence at the university le vel, it was assumed that the pa rticipants had basic knowledge of email and internet usage. Researchers have found that response rates for postal mail surveys and internet surveys are comparable (Schafer & Dillman, 1998), that respons e to email surveys are received more quickly and that item non-response is lower for internet surveys than for postal mail surveys (Schafer & Dillman, 1998; Murray & Fisher, 2002). Petit (2 002) compared results of a World Wide Web (WWW) questionnaire and a paper and pencil qu estionnaire and found that random response, item non-response, extreme response, and acquiescent response are not statis tically different. In fact, paper and pencil questionn aires elicited a statistically higher number of uncodeable responses. Truell, Bartlett, and Alexander (200 2) also found that in ternet and mail surveys achieved a similar response rate. In additi on, they determined that response speed and completeness were better for the internet based surveys. Research Hypotheses Hypotheses This study tested the following hypotheses: Ho1: There is no association between the raci al group membership of female graduate students and their report ed level of stress. Ho2: There is no association between age of fema le graduate students and their reported level of stress. Ho3: There is no association between female gr aduate students’ locus of control and their reported level of stress. Ho4: There is no association between female graduate students’ coping style and their reported level of stress.


49 Ho5: There is no association between female gra duate students’ reported sources of stress and their level of stress. Ho6: There is no contribution to predicting female graduate stud ents’ reported level of stress of the following variables: racial group member ship, age, locus of control, coping style and source of stress. Design of the Study The researcher used a survey research design th at tested six hypotheses. The survey was composed of five instruments the Perceived St ress Scale (PSS), the Pear lin Mastery Scale (PM), the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS), the Graduate Stress Inventory (GSI-R), and a researcher-designed demographic questionnaire . The dependent variable under investigation was reported stress level as operationalized by th e negative stress subs cale of the Perceived Stress Scale. The independent variables were race, age, locus of control, coping style and sources of stress. Locus of control was opera tionalized by the two subscales of the Pearlin Mastery scale (Positive Thinking and Self Doubt). Coping style was operationalized by the three subscales of the Coping Inventory for Stressf ul Situations (Task-focused coping, Emotionfocused coping, and Avoidance-focused coping). Sources of stress were operationalized by the three subscales of the Graduate Stress Inve ntory-Revised (Academic stress, School Social Environment stress, and Fa mily/Financial stress). Data Analytic Procedures The researcher tested six hypotheses using step wise regression analysis or correlational analysis. For the regression analysis and corr elational analysis, the dependent variable was perceived stress as measured by negative stre ss of the Perceived St ress Scale (PSS). The independent variables were race, age, locus of cont rol, coping style and source of stress. Prior to analysis to answer research questions and test study hypothesis, the four instruments [Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), Pearlin Mast ery Scale (PM), Coping Inventor y for Stressful Situations (CISS) and Graduate Stress Inventory (GSI-R)] we re submitted to factor and reliability analysis


50 to confirm subscales and to verify that the s ubscales were useful and meaningful for this particular population of female graduate student s. The fifth instrument, a researcher-designed demographic questionnaire, was used to obtain de mographic data from participants and provide an opportunity to share information regarding ot her aspects of their educational experience. The data obtained for this study was analyzed using the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS). The data was co llected on-line and st ored via an internet database, which the researcher downloaded and transferred into SAS once data collection was complete. Instruments Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS: Cohen, Ka marck, and Mermelstein, 1983) was used as an outcome measure of the cognitively percei ved level of stress experienced reported by study participants. This questionnaire contains it ems assessing the degree to which respondents find their lives unpredictable, uncont rollable, and overloaded. Higher scores indicate a higher level of perceived stress or negative stress. The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS; Cohen, et al ., 1983) is a 14-item questionnaire designed to measure the degree to which s ituations in one’s life are appraised as stre ssful. The Perceived Stress Scale was chosen due to its ability to a ssess the degree to which respondents find their lives unpredictable, uncontrollable, and overloade d; three issues that have been found to be central components of the experience of st ress (Cohen, 1978; Lazarus, 1966, 1977). The scale also directly inquires about current levels of experienced stress. Lazarus (1966, 1977) reports that objective ap praisal of stressful events is partly determined by one’s perceptions of their stressfulness. A combination of both objective and subjective measures of stress is used in this assessment of both global and event-specific stress levels. Stressor effects are assumed to occur only when both (a) the situation is appraised as


51 threatening or otherwise demanding and (b) insufficient resources ar e available to cope with the situation. The assumed centrality of the cognitive appraisal process suggests the desirability of measuring perceived stress as opposed to or in addition to objective stress. Perceived stress scales could also be used in c onjunction with objective scales in an effort to determine whether factors such as social suppor t (Pearlin, Menaghan, Lieberman, & Mullan, 1981) and locus of control (Johnson and Sarason, 1979) protect people from the pathogenic effects of stressful events by altering the process or processes by whic h appraised stress resu lts in physiological or behavioral disorders. Finally, perceived stress ca n be viewed as an outcome variable measuring the experienced level of stress as a function of objective stress ful events, coping processes and personality factors (Cohen, et al., 1983). Subjective measures of response to specific stressors have also been widely used. However there are several limitations to thes e measures such as, it is difficult and timeconsuming to adequately develop and psychometri cally validate an individual measure every time a new stressor is studied. Theoretically, there is an issue of whether measures of perceived response to a specific stressor real ly assess a person’s evaluations of that stressor. There is, in fact, evidence that people often misattribute their feelings of stress to a particular source when that stress is actually due to a nother source (Cohen, et al., 1983). Cohen, Kamarck, and Mermelstein (1983) create d the Perceived Stress Scale based on the need for an instrument to measure a global level of perceived stress. Presumably it is this level of appraised stress, not the objec tive occurrence of events, which determines one’s response to a stressor(s) (Lazarus, 1966, 1977). As this measure is more global than life-event scales, it is sensitive to: (a) chronic stre ss deriving from ongoing life ci rcumstances, (b) stress from


52 expectations concerning future events, (c) stress fr om events not listed on a particular life–events scale, and (d) reactions to the specific ev ents included on any scal e (Cohen et al., 1983). The Perceived Stress Scale was designed for us e with community samples with at least a junior high school education. The PSS asks particip ants to indicate how often they have felt or thought a certain way during the pa st month using a 5-point Likert -type scale where 0 = Never, 1 = Almost Never, 2 = Sometimes, 3 = Fairly Ofte n, and 5 = Very Often. PSS scores are obtained by reversing scores on the seven positive items and then summing across all 14 items. Items 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, and 13 are the positively stated items. The questions are of a general nature and hence are relatively free of conten t specific to any subpopulation group. Validation data on the PSS were collected usi ng three samples-two consisting of college students (both male and female) and one consisti ng of a more heterogeneous group enrolled in a smokingcessation program. The coefficient al pha reliability for the PSS was .84 and .85 for the college samples and .86 for the smoking-cessation sample. The test-retest correlation for the college sample was .85 for a two day time period and .55 for a 6 weeks retest interval for the smoking-cessation sample. Perceived levels of stress should be influenced by daily hassles, major events, and changes in availability of copi ng resources, all of which are quite variable over a short period. The test-r etest reliability analysis indicates th at test-retests involving a very short time (two days) result in fairly substantial corr elations, whereas administrations six weeks later produce more moderate test-retest correlations (Cohen et al., 1983). Pearlin Mastery Scale (PM) Pearlin’s Mastery Scale (1981) wa s used to measure participants ’ mastery, or the extent to which participants regard their life chances as being under their ow n control in contrast to being externally controlled. Higher sc ores indicate a higher level of ma stery and a more internal locus


53 of control whereas lower scores indicate low level of mastery and a more external locus of control. The Pearlin Mastery Scale (Pearlin & School er, 1978) is a 7-item questionnaire designed to measure locus of control. Locus of control also referred to as pers onal control beliefs and personal mastery beliefs, reflects individuals’ beliefs regarding the extent to which they are able to control or influence outcomes (Seeman, 1999). Mastery is defined as the extent to which one regards one’s life chances as being under one’s ow n control in contrast to being fatalistically ruled (Robinson, Shaver & Wrightsman, 1991). The Pearlin Mastery Scale asks respondents to indicate thei r agreement or disagreement with statements relating to the level of control they feel over events in their lives. The questionnaire uses a four-point Likert-type scale where 1= Strongly Agree, 2=Agree, 3=Disagree, and 4=Strongly Disa gree. Scores can range from 7 (low mastery) to 28 (high mastery) (Robinson et al., 1991). The scale was developed as part of a larger in vestigation into the social origins of personal stress. The first sample consisted of scheduled interviews conducted with 2300 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 in 1972-1973. A second interview was administered to 1106 of the original respondents between 1976-1977 (Pear lin & Schooler, 1978, R obinson et al., 1991). Reliability of the 7-item scale was demonstrated via factor analysis. The coefficient alpha reliability is .80. The correlati on between the first and second interviews was .33. The use of LISREL procedures to evaluate th e longitudinal data allowed the authors to conclude that the relationship between constructs a nd indicators remained stable over time. In addition, error over time was small and did not affect the stability of estimates to a significan t degree. (Robinson et al., 1991).


54 The Pearlin Mastery Scale demonstrates both convergent and discriminant validity. Consistent relationships (in th e hypothesized direction) were ev ident with other scales and variables. Near zero correlations among severa l variables indicate a le vel of discrimination (Robinson et. al., 1991). Coping Inventory for Stres sful Situations, (CISS) The adult version of the Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (C ISS) (1999) was used to measure coping on a multidimensional level. Th e CISS assesses three forms of coping: TaskOriented, Emotion-Oriented, and Avoidance-Oriented. In additi on there are two subscales for the Avoidance-Oriented scale: Di straction and Social Diversion. The Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS; Endler & Pa rker, 1990a, 1999) is a 48-item questionnaire designed to measure multi dimensional coping. The Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations assesses pref erred coping styles, or strategies typically used in coping with stressful situations. Coping styl e is conceptualized as a charac teristic or typical manner of confronting a stressful situat ion and dealing with it (Folkman & Lazarus, 1980; 1985). This conceptualization of coping style would be akin to a habit or typical manner of attempting to resolve problematic situations encountered in ge neral or specific situations (Endler & Parker, 1999). The interaction model of anxiety, stress, and coping underlies the development of the CISS, as the instrument is concerned with the in teraction between stressful events and the ways in which individuals deal with them. There is an interaction between personal variables (such as vulnerability and cognitive style) and situation va riables (for example life events and crises). This interaction between variables leads an i ndividual to the percepti on of danger or threat, which in turn can affect both the personal and situational variables which in turn leads to


55 reactions to the change in the state of anxiety (i.e. coping res ponses and physiological reactions) (Endler & Parker, 1999). Lazarus and Folkman (1984, 1987) proposed a process-oriented coping model that distinguishes between two major functions of coping: proble m-focused responses aimed at altering person-environment rela tionships, and emotion-focused responses aimed at regulating emotional distress (Endler & Parker, 1994). E ndler & Parker (1990a, 199 4) conceptualized a third basic coping strategy, avoidance , which can include either pers on-oriented or task-oriented strategies. An individual can avoid a stressful situation by seeking out other people (social diversion) or by engaging in a substitute task (distraction). During the first stage of development, a list of 120 items was created from existing coping inventories, published research on coping strategies in various situations and individually generated from selected psychologist and gra duate students (Billings & Moss, 1981; Folkman & Lazarus, 1980, 1985, 1986; McCrae, 1984; McCrae & Costa, 1986; Pearlin & Schooler, 1978; Stone & Neale, 1984). A shortened list of 70 items was administered to 559 undergraduate students. The format for each item was a 5-point Likert-type scale, asking participants to indicate how frequently they woul d engage in the behavior ranging from 1=not at all to 5= very much. Factor analyses of the 70 items using a principal components f actor analysis with a varimax rotation yielded a scale of 44 items and three factors labeled Ta sk-Oriented coping (T), Emotion-Oriented coping (E), and Avoidance-Oriented coping (A). A disproportionate number of items in the 3 subscales (19T, 12E, and 13A) resulted in additional items being generated for the Emo tion and Avoidance scales. Approximately 40 additional items were generated a nd classified by subscale and ev aluated. Inter-judge agreement resulted in 22 items being retained yielding a 66 -item inventory. The 66-item inventory was then


56 administered to 394 college students and a factor loading analysis was completed. Elimination of items lacking face validity while keeping subscal es equal in number of items resulted in a 48item inventory with 16 items in each subscale. Th e 48-item inventory was factor analyzed again where each of the 16 items per subscale was factor analyzed separately. The Avoidance subscale yielded two factors: and 8-item Distraction scale and a 5-itme So cial Diversion scale with three items loading on both or neither factor (Endler & Parker, 1999). The 48-item inventory was normed for both an adult and an adolescent population. The Adult version of the CISS will be used in this study. The responses of the undergraduate and adult samples were compared by computing cong ruence coefficients. Congruence coefficients comparing the three factors (T, E, and A) were above .97 and those comparing the two subscales of the Avoidance scale (Distraction and Social Diversion) were above .95. The various CISS scales for both the adult and adol escent versions appear to have high internal reliabilities as coefficient alphas ranged from .69 to .92. and modera te to high test-retest reliabilities with a range of .51 to .68. Graduate Stress Inventory-Revised (GSI-R) The Graduate Stress InventoryRevised (GSI-R) (1994) was used to measure the degree to which participants perceive situatio ns particular to the graduate sc hool experience to be stressful. The instrument measures how individuals perceive their academic responsib ilities, the university environment, and financial responsibilities (Roc ha-Singh, 1994). The GSI-R examines external events and assesses internal stress level along four domai ns: professional/academic, environmental, familial, and monetary. The Graduate Stress-Inventory-Revised (GSI-R, Rocha-Singh, 1994) is a 21-item questionnaire designed to measur e the degree to which graduate students perceive situations


57 particular to the graduate school experience to be stressful. The self-report instrument measures how respondents perceive their academic respons ibilities, the university environment, and familial and financial responsibilities. These three areas composing the questionnaire domains used in this study are titled: (a ) academic stress; (b) school social environmental stress; and (c) family/monetary stress. The content of items in Graduate Stress Invent ory-Revised takes into consideration three issues that have been found in the work conducted by Lazarus (1966, 1977) to be central components of the experience of stress: unpredictability, uncontrollability, and overload. The Graduate Stress Inventor y-Revised consists of two sections. Section A is a background questionnaire which asks for such info rmation as gender, ethnicity, marital status, academic status, country of citizenship, area of specialization, parent’s educational attainment, and financial situation. Secti on B is a stress inventory consis ting of 21 stress items with a 7point Likert-type scale ranging from (1) not stressful at all to (7) extremely stressful . The Graduate Stress Inventory items were ba sed on research that examined the academic climate, social integration, and c oncerns of graduate students. In addition, items were included to assess the unique experience s that a student’s gender and ra ce/ethnicity have on experiences inside and outside of the academic environment. Specifically, items were based on research conducted by Hartnett (1976) and McMurtrey (1 988) suggesting the importance of certain elements in the socio-psychological environment for graduate students: (a) the quality and nature of faculty-student relations; (b) the sens e of community within a department; and (c) the evaluation of student performance. Mendoza’s ( 1981) research on perceptions of stress for undergraduate students defines four dimensions (academic, financial, familial, and personal), which provided the general categories in which ite ms relevant to a graduate student experience


58 were generated (Rocha-Singh, 1994). The Grad uate Stress Inventory-Revised therefore examines external events and assesses internal stress levels. Reliability and validity estimates of the Gradua te Stress Inventory were derived from data on three samples consisting of both masters and doc toral student participants. The first sample included 450 masters and doctoral students at a major research uni versity. This initial study was an initial examination of the internal consiste ncy and factor structure of the Graduate Stress Inventory items based on a 25-item graduate perceived stress meas ure developed by RochaSingh (1988). Participants were asked to rate how much stress they pe rceived in relation to various events encountered in gr aduate school on a not at all stressful to extremely stressful 7point Likert-type format. The quality and interp retability of item responses were evaluated with correlation and common factor analyses and thos e items (items 11, 15, 21, and 24) that did not correlate highly to other items in any domain were deleted from the scale. These items fell into two categories: (a) dissertation it ems for Ph.D. candidates or (b) items related to the family. A reduced perceived-stress scale was cr eated with the remaining 21 items. The factor structure of the reduced 21-item scale was explored by means of both principal factors and maximum likelihood extraction met hods with orthogonal and oblique rotations. Using factor loadings of at least .35, 19 items were retained and two hypothesized domains, familial and monetary obligations were combined resulting in the following identified three factors: School Social Environmental Stress, Familial/Monetary Stress and Academic Stress. Internal consistency reliability of each subscale was estimated with coefficient using the 450 graduate students. Internal consistencies for the reduced School Social Environmental Stress (7 items), Familial/Monetary Stress (6 items), and Academic Stress (6 items) subscales are all moderate to high with alphas of .85, .77, and .78 respectively.


59 The initial study facilitated the evaluation and improvement of the Graduate Stress Inventory leading to changes in wording for a si gnificant number of items . The second phase of the validation process administered the revised scale along with a measure of trait anxiety to a new sample of 469 first-year doctoral students. For purposes of testing concurrent validity on the Graduate Stress InventoryRevised, Speilberger’s (1983) Tr ait Anxiety Inventory Form-Y2 was used. The factor structure of the 21-item GSI-R was explored by means of both principal factors and maximum likelihood extraction methods with orthogonal and oblique rotations. The factor analysis of the GSI-R revealed three correl ated factors. These factors were congruent with those found in the pilot study. Re liability estimates us ing coefficient alpha yielded moderately high indexes: (a) School Social Environmental Stress, .30; (b) Family/Monetary Stress, .68; (c) Academic Stress, .74. Speilberger’s Trait Anxiet y Scale correlated in the predicted direction where increases in stress are associated with in creases in trait anxiety. For this sample, the correlations between stress scores and trait anxiety were low af ter correcting for unreliability. Hence, the stress measure appears to be measuri ng a construct that can be distinguished from trait anxiety. The purpose of the third study was to establish retest reliability of the Graduate Stress Inventory-Revised. Sixty-seven master’s st udents who were enrolled in a multicultural counseling program and a marriage, family and child counseling program at a West Coast teaching university comprised the third sample. Participants were ini tially administered the survey and administered a followup survey one week later. The GSI-R factor scores evidenced adequate 1-week retest reliabilities (N=63) for School Social Environmental Stress (.80), Family/Monetary Stress (.85), and Academic Stre ss (.85). Based on these three studies the GSI-


60 R is considered a reliable and valid measure of graduate students’ perceptions of stress in the three discussed domains. Demographic Questionnaire A researcher-designed demographic questionnaire was used to collect information regarding individual characteris tics. The following variables were assessed: race-ethnic background, age, marital status, number of child ren, annual household income, program of study, degree sought, and academic progress. Particip ants were also asked openended questions regarding a stressful event experi enced, way(s) of coping with that event, their satisfaction with their chosen way of coping, and to supply any ot her information they would like to share with the investigator regarding stre ss and coping concerning female graduate students in general. Summary The purpose of the current research study was to examine perceived stress and in a diverse sample of Black and White female graduate st udents. An additional purpose was to examine whether racial differences exist among perceived stress and the independent variables of age, locus of control, coping style, and type of stressors. A conveni ence sample of graduate women was drawn from campus listservers and participan ts completed an on-line survey that included the Pearlin Mastery Scale, the Coping in Stress ful Situations, the Graduate Stress InventoryRevised, the Perceived Stress Scal e, and a forty-two question dem ographic questionnaire. Data was analyzed using regression analysis and corre lational analysis. The results of the study are presented in Chapter 4.


61 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS In this chapter, the results of the study are presented in four sections including (a) the demographics of the sample, (b) an alysis of the instruments used in this study, (c) the results and data analyses of each research question and hypothesis, and (d) a summary of the findings. Sample Demographics A total of 494 women completed the survey. Participants ranged in age from 21 to 63 years of age, and the average age of re spondents was 29.41 (SD = 8.24, Table 4-1). Two participants did not repo rt their age. Participants identifi ed racially as black, white, and/or mixed/other; with 23.8 % black, 73.4 % white and 2.9 % mixed/other. Two participants did not report their race. Participants represented diverse ethnic bac kgrounds (see Table 4-2). However the majority of the sample was European Americ an (59.5%). Three participants did not report their ethnicity. The majority of study participants were singl e, never married (50.2%, Table 4-3) and did not have children (80.9%). Two participants did not report their marital status. Of the 94 participants who reported having children, the majority had one child (42.55%) or two children (36.17%) with an average age of 12.91 years (SD= 9.93). Participants were asked about their living arrangements, fina nces, and employment status. Most participants lived with either a spouse or significant other (39.10 %, Table 4-4). Three participants did not report th eir living arrangements . The annual household income for most participants was between $10,000-$20,000 (26.07%, Ta ble 4-5) with 34.16% (Table 4-6) reporting as sole earner of household income. Three participants did not report their annual household income. Eight participants did not report what percentage of annual household income was from their earnings. Most partic ipants were employed part-time (46.56%, Table 4-


62 7), working an average of 24.62 hours per week (S D= 16.59, Table 4-8). Fift een participants did not report their employment status and ten did not report the numb er of hours worked per week. Demographic data was also collected on participants’ academic background. All participants were currently enro lled in a post-baccalaureate gradua te or professional program of study (Table 4-9). The largest numbers of partic ipants were seeking Master’s degrees (52.1%). Six participants did not report th eir degree sought. Half of th e participants (52.77%) were the first in their immediate family to seek a gra duate degree and nearly on e-third (28.48%) were the first to receive an undergraduate degree. Multiple academic majors were represented in the sample. The researcher narrowed the majors dow n into 9 categories. Table 4-10 presents the categories, frequencies, and percen tages of the participants’ academic majors. Most participants, 197 (40.37%), were in the early stages on thei r program having completed 2-3 semesters of coursework (Table 4-11). Six participants did not report the numb er of semesters completed in their program of study. Participants were asked to report on their progression through th eir program of study. Participants were asked to rate how well they thought they were on track towards completion of their prospective degrees and to identify factors that facilita ted or hindered their progression through their program of study. A significant majo rity, 344 (70.49%), of pa rticipants felt that they were on track to completing their degree in a timely manner. Most of the remaining participants 110 (22.54%) felt they were only slightly off track. Table 4-12 presents the factors that participants credit with facilitating their progression thr ough their programs. Ninety-three participants cited an a dditional 360 factors that fa cilitated their degree pr ogress as represented by “Other” in Table 4-12. Two hundred and twenty -four (62.22%) of the “Other” responses were related to social support in th e academic environment, 16 (4.44 %) were related to financial


63 support, 17 (4.72%) were related to social suppor t outside the academic environment, 11 (3.01%) were related to faculty mentoring and suppor t, and 20(5.56%) were related to support from family and friends. The researcher narrowed the remaining facilitative factors cited down into 5 categories. Table 4-13 presents the categories, frequencies, and percentages of the additional facilitative factors. Table 4-14 presents factors participants re port hindered their degree progress. One hundred and fifteen participants cited an addi tional 128 factors that hindered their degree progress as represented by “Other”. Twenty-one participants (18.26%) cite d factors related to a lack of social support in the academic environment specific to a lack of mentoring by faculty and poor advisement, 12 (10.43%) related to academic demands, 3 (2.61%) related to financial constraints, 3 (2.61%) related to family obligations, and 1 (0.8 7%) related to lack of support outside academic environment. The researcher narrowed the remaining hindering factors cited down into 8 categories. Table 4-15 presents the categories, frequencies, and percentages of the additional hindering factors. Participants were also asked why they chose to pursue a graduate degree at their respective universities. University location was the most frequently reported reason (69.23%) and program options were the second most reported (55.87%). Table 4-14 presents reported reasons for university choice. Participants cited an addi tional 98 reasons for c hoosing their respective universities as represented by “Other” in Table 4-16. Seventeen (17.35%) responses were related to program options and 12(12.24%) were re lated to personal finances and affordability. The additional reasons cited include: 14(14.29% ) spouse/significant ot her attending same university, 23 (23.47%) faculty member/mento r reputation and/or research, 12 (12.24%) university alumni or family alumni status , 6 (6.12%) convenience including online class


64 availability, 4 (4.08%) environmental character istics, 4 (4.08%) recru ited or referred to respective university, and 6 (6.12%) other reasons. Analysis of Instruments Used in Study Prior to commencing the analysis necessary for answering the que stions and hypotheses posed for this study, the four scales used in this study (CISS, GSI-R, PSS, and PM) were submitted to factor and reliability analysis to confirm subscales or to identify useful and meaningful subscales for this particular populati on of female graduate students. While it was presumed the scales and subscales would confirm previously identified s ubscales, it was also acknowledged validity and re liability are situation and person specific and a scale might be valid and reliable for one group of s ubjects but might not be valid a nd reliable for another. The sample included in this study represented a rather unique group of particip ants who were mainly 21-30 years of age, single, and Masters and Doct oral level students enrolled in graduate programs in universities. Thus, a factor analysis was undertaken to establish the instrument validity and reliability for this unique group of s ubjects. A principal components factor analysis using a varimax and promax rotations was used to identify any useful and meaningful subscales and to determine inter-factor correlations. Any item with a factor load ing of .30 or less was considered for removal as not adding to the m easurement qualities of the scale or subscale. A Cronbach alpha was used to test the reliability of any subscales for this group of participants. Those items with a negative item to total correlati on were then reverse coded. Each of the scales used in the study is presented separately. Coping Inventory for Stressf ul Situations (CISS) The factor analysis using a varimax rotation of the CISS indicated the items fell into the subscales identified by the authors of the instru ment according to the instruction manual (Endler & Parker, 1999). The subscales identified were as follows: Task, Emotion, and Avoidance. The


65 response scale of the CISS was a five point Likert type response scale of Not at All (1) to Very Much (5). Table 1 presents the reliability data for the total and subscales and Table 2 presents the factor loadings for the CISS. As can be s een from this data, the items on the CISS loaded well on each of the subscales and the reliability of more than acceptable. The factor analysis indicated the items in the thre e subscales accounted for 36.71% of the variance. One item (Talk to someone whose advice I value) loaded on th e Task subscale rather than the Avoidance subscale in this analysis. Given the participants in this study, talking to a valued person could be seen as a task rather than something to avoid. However, since this was the only item that was questionable a decision was made to leave the item in the Avoidan ce subscale. Leaving the item in Avoidance did not make any difference in the reliability for either subscale. The promax rotation indicated the inter-factor correlations we re very low and the subscales of the CISS were not related (r= -.215 to r= .128). Also, a decision was made to treat each subscale score as a separate unique entity. Rather than providing a total scale score for the CISS, each of the subscales were treated as indi vidual scales in this study. Graduate Stress Inventory Revised (GSI-R) The GSIR was developed to measure the pe rceptions of graduate students about the source of stress they encounter in graduate programs. The GS IR is a 21 item instrument measuring academic, family, and financial responsib ilities as well as the school environment. The GSIR did not factor as antici pated however, the subscales identi fied by this factor analysis appear to be a more appropriate arrangement of the items for this group of participants. Previous administrations of the GSIR included men, while the administration for this study only included women. Varying perceptions among men and wome n probably accounted for the differences in the way items loaded on the different factors. The GSIR utilized a seven point Likert type instrument of Not at all Stressful (1) to Extremely Stressful (7) and none of the items needed to


66 be reverse coded. The promax rotation of the GS IR indicated the three subscales were weakly correlated with each othe r (r=.245 to r=.414). Hence, the decisi on was made to treat each of the subscales as measuring unique a nd independent constructs. Thus, the decision was made not to use a total GSIR scale score in further analysis si nce the subscales are unique independent scales. The first factor identified by the factor an alysis addressed the academic concerns of female graduate students and included seven items with a Cronbach alpha of .8088. The seven items included completing coursework assignm ent, taking exams, meeting with faculty, participating in class and other items. The sec ond factor addressed School Social Environment concerns of female graduate students. The Cr onbach alpha for this subscale was alpha = .7800. The subscale included items such as: Living in the local community, Adjusting to the campus environment, and finding support groups sensitive to your needs. The third subscale to emerge from the factor analysis consisted of seven it ems and measured Family/Financial concerns of female graduate students. The Cronbach alpha was .7391. Family/Financial concerns included items such as: arranging childcare, fulfilling re sponsibilities both at hom e and at school, and paying monthly expenses. It should be not ed the Cronbach alphas calculated for the new grouping of the items was higher than for the or iginal grouping of the items as well as having stronger factor loadings . Considering the reliability was higher and the grouping of the items into the new subscales provided useful and meani ngful data and interpre tation of the subscales, the decision was made to use the subscales id entified through the curr ent factor analysis procedure in this study as a group of women may have different concerns and stressors than a group of men and women. Table 4-19 presents the scale properties and Table 4-20 presents factor loadings for the items for each subscale.


67 Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) consisted of 14 items answered on a five point Likert type response scale of Never (0) to Very Often (4). Respondents were as ked to think about their lives for the last month and indi cate how often the felt or thought a particular way. Reliability for the total PS scale was = .6505 and it was not necessary to reverse code any of the items. Principal components factor anal ysis identified three subscale s within the PS and these three subscales accounted for 54.90% of the variance. However, the third subscale consisted of only two items and the reliability coeffici ent for these two (#s 8 and 12) was =.0268. As a result of this analysis, a two factor solution was attempted but this possible solution reduced the reliability of the two remaining subscales. Thus, the decisi on was made to delete these two items (8 and 12) from further analysis. The items just did not fit well with the other items and detracted from the overall properties as well as the usefulness an d meaningfulness of the subscales. The two remaining subscales had high factor loadings an d more than acceptable reliability accounting for 47.74% of the variance. The firs t subscale addressed negative st ressors and included items such as: in the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly, in the last month and how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them? The negative stressors subscale had a Cronbach alpha of =.8407 indicating a high level of internal cons istency and reliability. The second subscale addressed positive stressors and consisted of four items with a Cronbach alpha of =.7351. Positive stressors included items such as: in the last month, how often have you felt that you were effectively coping with important changes th at were occurring I in your life and in the last month, how often have you felt th at you were on top of things? The promax rotation indicated the two subscales were unique entities and ha d a low inter-factor correlation (r=.425) and the


68 decision was made to treat each of the two subs cales as unique independ ent scales in further analysis. Table 4-21 presents the properties of the PS scale and Table 4-22 present the factor analysis. Pearlin Mastery Scale (PM) The fourth scale used in this study, the P earlin Mastery Scale (PM) consisted of seven items utilizing a four point Likert response scale of Strongly Agree (4) to Strongly Disagree (1). It was necessary to reverse code tw o of the items, numbers 6 and 7 so Strongly Agree was now 1 and Strongly Disagree was 4. The total scale reliability coefficient was = .7974 indicating the scale had a high degree of inte rnal consistency and reliabilit y. Principal components factor analysis identified two subscales within the PM . The first factor c onsisted of five items addressing self doubt and none of the items ha d to be reverse coded. The Cronbach alpha reliability coefficient was .7985. The second subs cale consisted of two items both reverse coded with a Cronbach alpha of .6516. The second subscale addressed positive thinking. Both subscales demonstrated a fairly high level of intern al consistency and re liability. The promax rotation results indicated there was a low inte r-factor correlation between the two factors (r=.400) and the decision was made to treat each of the two subscales as a unique independent scale in further analysis. Table 4-23 presents th e measurement properties of the PM and Table 424 illustrates the factor loadings of the items . The two factors accounted for 61% of the variance. Data Analysis This study posed six hypotheses to be addressed in this study of stre ss in female graduate students. Each hypothesis is addressed individual ly and the data used to test the hypothesis. Analysis of the data for the total group of fema le graduate students is reported first and each hypothesis answered. Next analysis for the data from the two subgroups of respondents, White


69 graduate women and Black gr aduate women is reported. The subgroup of Black women includes Black women and the small percent (2.9 %) of women who self-ide ntified as partially Black. This was done in order to determine whet her there were differences in the perceived stressors for Whites and Blacks. The data was ch ecked before analysis to determine whether the assumptions for each statistic used were met. Evidence of the skewness, kurtosis, normality, means, frequencies, and plots were used to meet the assumptions for appropriate data analysis. Pearson Product Moment correlations and Spearma n Rho correlations were used to answer the first five hypotheses posed by this study. Hypothesis 1 was as follows: HO1: There is no association between the racial group membership of female graduate students and their reported level of stress. To address this hypothesis a Spearman Rho co rrelation was calculated for racial group and the Negative Stress subscale of the Perceived Stress scale. Table 4-25 presents the results of this analysis. There was an inverse, but non-si gnificant association between racial group membership and Negative Stress. The correlation is low and the null hypothesis is retained for Hypothesis 1. There is no associ ation between racial group memb ership and Negative Stress. The second hypothesis addressed by this study was as follows: HO2: There is no association between age of female graduate students a nd their reported level of stress. A Pearson Product Moment correlation was calcu lated to address this hypothesis using age and negative stress as measure by the Perceived Stress Scale. As shown in Table 4-26 there was a positive non-significant correlati on for age and Negative Stress. The correlation is low and the


70 null hypothesis is retained for Hypothesis 2, ther e is no association between age and Negative Stress. The third hypothesis posed for this study was as follows: HO3: There is no association between female gra duate students’ locus of control and their reported level of stress. Scores from the Self-Doubt and Positive Thinki ng subscales of the Pearlin Mastery Scale were used to assess locus of control and the Nega tive Stress subscale scores was used to measure perceived stress. The result of this analysis is presented in Table 4-27. There was an inverse relationship between Self-Doubt and Negative Stress sc ores that was statistically significant. The lower the score of the Pearlin Ma stery Scale the more Self-Doubt indicated. The low Self Doubt subscale scores correlated with higher Negative Stress subscale scor es. There was a statistically significant relationship between Positive Thinking and Negative Stress scores; however this was not a very strong linear relati onship. Hence the null hypothesis was rejected as there was a statistically significant relations hip between Self-Doubt and Nega tive Stress scores and between positive Thinking and Negative Stress scores. The fourth hypothesis was as follows: HO4: There is no association between fema le graduate students’ coping style and their reported level of stress. This hypothesis tested whether or not there was a significant relati onship between coping skills as measured by the subscales of the C oping Inventory for Stressful Situations, Taskfocused coping, Emotion-focused coping, and Avoida nce-focused coping. These three subscales scores were correlated using a Pearson Product Moment correlation with the Negative Stress subscale score. Table 4-28 presents the results of this analysis. There was a moderately strong


71 statistically significant relati onship between the Emotion-focused coping subscale score and Negative Stress score. There was not a significa nt relationship for Task-focused coping scores and Negative Stress score (r=.038, p=.420) and A voidance-focused coping subscale score and Negative Stress score (r=.071, p=.128). Therefore th e null hypothesis was rejected as there was an association between coping st yle and Negative Stress scores. The fifth hypothesis was a follows: HO5: There is no association between female gra duate students’ reported sources of stress and their level of stress. A Pearson Product Moment correlation was used to address this hypothesis using respondents’ scores on the three subscales of the Graduate Stre ss Inventory-Revised (Academic stress, School Social Environment stress, a nd Family/Financial stress) and Negative Stress subscale of the Perceived Stress Scale. Table 4-29 presents this analysis. There was a moderately strong statistically significant relationshi p between the Academic stress score and Negative Stress score, School Social Environm ent stress score and Ne gative Stress score and Family/Financial stress score and Negative Stress score. Hence, the nu ll hypothesis was rejected for all three subscales for source s of stress and Negative Stress. The sixth hypothesis was as follows: HO6: There is no contribution to predicting female graduate students’ report ed level of stress of the following variables: racial group membershi p, age, locus of control, coping style and source of stress. A stepwise multiple regression was used to identify those variables that might be statistically significant predictors of participan ts’ Negative Stress scores on the Perceived Stress Scale. Prior to analysis, the data was checked to make sure collinearity was not a problem and no instances of multi-col linearity were found.


72 Analysis of the stepwise regression for Negative Stress found th ere were a set of statistically significant predictors. Regression results indicated an overall model of seven predictors (Emotion-focused coping, Family/Fin ancial stress, Task-focused coping, Academic stress, Credit Hours Taken, Self-Doubt, and Scho ol Social Environment stress) significantly predicting women graduate Negative Stress, R2=.413, F (1, 419) =4.708, p=.031. It should be noted that the model was statistically significant at each step in the regression procedure. The model accounts for 41.3 percent of the variance in graduate women’s Negative Stress. A summary of the regression model is Table 4-30 an d the coefficients for the final model can be found in Table 4-31. White Women Only A stepwise regression analysis of the Negative Stress scores of the White female graduate student subgroup resulted in a se t of statistically significant pr edictors. Regression results revealed an overall model of five predictors (Emotion-focused coping, Family/Financial stress, Academic stress, Task-focused coping, and School Social Environment stress) significantly predicting White female gradua te students’ Negative Stress, R2=466, F (1,314) = 7.619, p=.006. It should be noted the model was sta tistically significant at each step in the regression procedure. The model accounts for 44.6 percent of the va riance in White women Negative Stress. A summary of the regression model is presented in Table 4-32 and the coefficients for the final model can be found in Table 4-33. Black Women Only A stepwise regression analysis of the Negative Stress scores of the Black women subgroup resulted in a set of statistically significant pr edictors. Regression resu lts indicated an overall model of three predictors (Emotion-focused coping, Credit Hours Taken, and Hours Worked) that significantly predicting Black women’s Negative stress, R2 =.365, F (1,103) = 4.806,


73 p=.031. It should be noted the model was statisti cally significant at each step in the regression procedure. The model accounts for 36.5 percent of the variance in Black women’s Negative Stress. A summary of the regre ssion model is presented in Tabl e 4-34 and the coefficients for the final model can be found in Table 4-36. Regression Summary Separate stepwise multiple regression analyses were completed for all women graduate students participating in this study, as well as for White women graduate students, and Black women graduate students. Different combinations of variables were significant predictors for each group of respondents’ perceived stress scor es. The Emotion subscale was a consistent predictor across the three groups analyzed. Table 4-36 presents a summary of the predictors for perceived stress for the three groups of female graduate students. Table 4-1. Participants’ Age Groups Age Group FrequencyTotal Percent 21-30 35371.75 31-40 8517.27 41-50 336.71 51+ 214.27 Note: Data were missing for 2 respondents. Table 4-2. Participan ts’ Ethnic Backgrounds Ethnic Background FrequencyTotal Percent African American 10621.59 Asian 2.41 Caribbean 112.24 European American 29259.47 Haitian 2.41 Hispanic 122.44 Multiethnic 6613.44 Note: Data were missing for 2 respondents.


74 Table 4-3. Participants Marital Status Marital Status FrequencyTotal Percent Married 13928.25 Single, Never Married 24750.20 Significant Other 7314.84 Divorced 295.89 Separated 3.61 Widowed 1.20 Note: Data were missing for 2 respondents. Table 4-4. Participants ’ Living Arrangements Living Arrangements FrequencyTotal Percent Living Alone 16132.79 Living with Family Members 387.74 Living with Spouse of Significant Other 19239.10 Living with Other Students 469.37 Living with Roommate 5411.00 Note: Data were missing for 3 respondents. Table 4-5. Participants’ Annual Household Income Income Level FrequencyTotal Percent Below $10, 000 8517.31 $10, 001-$20, 000 12826.07 $20, 001-$30, 000 5811.81 $30, 001-$40, 000 5811.81 $40, 001-$50, 000 459.16 $50, 001-$60, 000 295.91 Over $60, 000 8817.92 Note: Data were missing for 3 respondents. Table 4-6. Percentage of Household Annua l Income for Participants’ Earnings Income Percentage FrequencyTotal Percent None 408.23 Less than 20% 8417.28 20-40% 7515.43 50% 6413.17 60-80% 5711.73 100% 16634.16 Note: Data were missing for 8 respondents.


75 Table 4-7. Participants’ Employment Status. Employment Status FrequencyTotal Percent Not Employed 8217.12 Employed Part-Time 22346.56 Employed Full-Time 11724.43 Self-Employed 102.09 Work More Than One Job 479.81 Note: Data were missing for 15 respondents. Table 4-8. Participants’ Number of Hours Worked Per Week. Hours Worked FrequencyTotal Percent 0-10 10621.90 11-20 15030.99 21-30 6513.43 31-40 9319.22 41-50 469.50 Above 50 244.96 Note: Data were missing for 10 respondents. Table 4-9. Participants’ Degree Sought Degree Sought FrequencyTotal Percent Masters 25452.05 Specialist 153.07 Doctorate 20842.62 Professional 51.02 Other 61.23 Note: Data were missing for 6 respondents. Table 4-10. Categories, Frequenc ies, and Percentages of Participants’ Academic Major Major FrequencyTotal Percent Agriculture & Life Sciences 122.43 Business 102.02 Counseling & Psychology 18236.84 Education 10821.86 Engineering 224.45 Fine Arts, Design & Construction 91.82 Health Related Professions 6012.15 Liberal Arts & Science 8417.00 Other 71.42


76 Table 4-11. Participants’ Numb er of Semesters Completed Number of Semesters Fr equencyTotal Percent 2-3 Semesters 19740.37 4-5 Semesters 14128.89 6-7 Semesters 7415.16 8 or More Semesters 7615.57 Note: Data were missing for 6 respondents. Table 4-12. Facilitative Factors for Progression through Program of Study Facilitative Factors FrequencyTotal Percent Financial Support 27555.67 Family Support 35371.46 Mentoring by Faculty 21944.33 Social Support in Academic Environment 24349.19 Social Support Outside A cademic Environment 26353.24 Other 9318.83 Table 4-13. Additional Facil itative Factors for Progressi on through Program of Study Additional Facilitative Factor s FrequencyTotal Percent Personal Determination & Drive 3941.94 Spirituality/Faith-Based Support 1617.20 Financial Constraints 33.23 Personal Counseling 33.23 Miscellaneous 1111.83 Table 4-14. Hindering Factors to Pr ogression through Program of Study Hindering Factors FrequencyTotal Percent Financial Constraints 20341.09 Family Obligations 14028.34 Academic Demands 15130.57 Lack of Social Support in Academic Environment 5711.53 Lack of Social Support Outside Academic Environment 11122.47 Other 11523.28


77 Table 4-15. Additional Hindering Factors to Progression through Program of Study Additional Hindering Factors FrequencyTotal Percent Conflicting Work & School Demands 2925.22 Physical/Mental Illness 1412.17 Personal Relationship Issues 1210.43 Advisor/Faculty Member Conflict 97.83 Class Availability 65.22 Time Constraints 43.48 Personal Behavior/Attitude (i.e. procrastination, lack of motivation, low-self confidence) 97.83 Miscellaneous 54.35 Table 4-16. Reasons for Choosing Respective University Reason FrequencyTotal Percent Financial Support/Aid 18136.64 Program Options 27655.87 Location 34269.23 School Reputation 21543.52 Other 9818.83 Table 4-17. Measurement Properties of the Copi ng Inventory for Stressful Situations Scale (CISS) Scale/Subscale Cronbach AlphaNumber of ItemsItems Reversed CISS Total .8302480 Task .8936160 Emotion .8766160 Avoidance .7782150


78 Table 4-18. Factor Loadings for the (CISS) Scale Item Number TaskEmotionAvoidance 21 .765 2 .685 24 .675 41 .674 42 .668 43 .661 26 .655 27 .613 47 .611 15 .594 1 .592 39 .573 10 .562 36 .554 46 .544 6 .525 35 .367 13 .766 19 .743 14 .735 34 .725 17 .717 30 .691 26 .680 22 .659 8 .658 38 .597 25 .555 45 .496 7 .466 5 .450 16 .413 33 .322 4 .643 29 .603 18 .592 23 .560 44 .527 37 .521 20 .503 9 .474 3 .473 31 .448 40 .435 12 .414 11 .407 32 .305 48 .287


79 Table 4-19. Measurement Properties of the Gra duate Stress Inventory-Revised (GSI-R) Scale Scale/Subscale Cronbach AlphaNumber of ItemsItems Reversed Academic .806570 Sch Social Envir. .780070 Family/Financial .688670 Table 4-20. Factor Loadings for the (GSI-R) Scale Subscale Item Number AcademicSch. Soc. Env. Famiy/Fin. Factor 1 Academic Stress 3. Taking exams .531 7. Fear of failing to meet program expectations .693 8. Participating in class .652 9. Meeting with faculty .527 12 Handling the academic workload .809 15. Writing papers .672 21. Meeting deadlines for course assignments .734 Factor 2 School Social Environment Stress 2. Trying to meet peers of your race/ethnicity on campus .641 6. Finding support groups sensitive to your needs .698 10. Living in the local community .483 11. Handling relationships .370 13. Peers treating you unlike they way they treat each other .714 14. Faculty treating you differently than your peers .691 18. Adjusting to the campus environment .601 Factor 3 Family/Finances Stress 1. Fulfilling responsibilities both at home and at school .640 4. Being obligated to participate in family functions .541 5. Arranging childcare .554 16. Paying monthly expenses .692 17. Family having money problems .735 19. Being obligated to repay loans .515 20. Anticipation of finding full-time professional work .349 Table 4-21. Measurement properties of the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) Scale/Subscale Cronbach AlphaNumber of ItemsItems Reversed Negative Stress .840780 Positive Stress .735140


80 Table 4-22. Factor Loadi ngs for the (PSS) Scale Item Neg StressPos Stress Item 1 .810 Item 3 .776 Item 2 .757 Item11 .682 Item 9 .519 Item 14 .506 Item 7 .504 Item 14 .354 Item 5 .787 Item 4 .737 Item 6 .691 Item 10 .537 Table 4-23. Measurement Properties of the Pearlin Mastery (PM) Scale Scale/Subscale Cronbach AlphaNumber of ItemsItems Reversed Self Doubt .798550 Positive Thinking .651622 Table 4-24. Factor Loadi ngs for the (PM) Scale Item Self-Doubt Pos Think 4. I often feel helpless in deali ng with the problems of life. .792 2. There is really no way I can solve some of the problems I have. .750 3. There is little I can do to change many of the important things in my life. .719 5. Sometimes I feel that I'm being pushed around in life. .669 1. I have little control over th e things that happen to me. .651 6. What happens to me in the future mostly depends on me. .665 7. I can do just about anything I really set my mind to do. .658 Table 4-25. Spearman Rho Correlation of Raci al Group Membership and Negative Stress Racial Group Memb.Negative Stress Spearman Rho Race Grp. Memb. Correlation Negative Stress 1.00 -.024 -.024 1.00 Significance Race Grp. Memb. (2-tailed) Negative Stress .596 .596 Note: N= 473.


81 Table 4-26. Correlation of Age and Negative Stress AgeNegative Stress Pearson Age Correlation Negative Stress 1.00 .031 .031 1.00 Significance Age (2-tailed) Negative Stress .508 .508 Note: N= 473. Table 4-27. Correlation of (PM) Subscales and Negative Stress Self-DoubtPos. ThinkingNeg. Stress Pearson Self-Doubt Correlations Pos. Thinking 1.00 1.00 -.362** .114* Significance Self-Doubt (2-tailed) Pos. Thinking .000 .015 Note: N= 456. **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level. *Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level. Table 4-28. Correlation of (CISS) Subscales and Negative Stress TaskEmotionAvoidanceNeg. Stress Pearson Task Correlation Emotion Avoidance 1.00 1.00 1.00 .038 .583** .071 Significance Task (2-tailed) Emotion Avoidance .420 .001 .128 Note: N= 480. **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level. Table 4-29. Correlation of (GSI-R ) Subscales and Negative Stress AcademicSch. Social Env.Fam./Fin. Neg. Stress Pearson Academic Correlation Sch. Soc. Env. Fam/Fin 1.00 1.00 1.00 .400** .361** .316** Significance Academic (2-tailed) Sch. Soc. Env. Fam/Fin .001 .001 .001 Note: N= 473. **Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level.


82 Table 4-30. Regression Model Summary for Negative Stress of (PSS) All Respondents Step R R2R2 chgFchgDf p 1 .567 .322.322201.5491,425 <.001 2 .596 .356.03422.3111,424 <.001 3 .610 .372.01610.8451,423 .001 4 .622 .387.01510.4141.422 .001 5 .630 .397.0107.0681,421 .008 6 .637 .406.0096.5701,420 .011 7 .643 .413.0074.7081,419 .031 Note: N= 434. 1. Emotion-focused coping. 2. Em otion, Family/Financial stress. 3. Emotion, Family/Financial, Task-focused coping. 4. Emotion, Family/Financial, Task, Academic stress 5. Emotion, Family/Financial, Task, Acad emic, Credit Hours Taken. 6. Emotion, Family/Financial, Task, Academic, Cred it Hours Taken, Self-Doubt. 7. Emotion, Family/Financial, Task, Academic, Credit Hour s Taken, Self-Doubt, School Social Environment stress Table 4-31. Final Model Regressi on Coefficients for Negative St ress of (PSS) All Respondents Predictors Btp Emotion-Focused Coping .4098.577<.001 Family/Financial Stress .1042.462.014 Task-Focused Coping .1473.736<.001 Academic Stress .1332.982.003 Credit Hours Taken .1092.855.005 Self-Doubt -.114-2.531.012 School Social Environment Stress .0962.170.031 Note: N= 434. Table 4-32. Regression Model Su mmary for Negative Stress of (PSS) for White Women Only Step R R2R2 chgFchgDf p 1 .593 .351.351172.3351,318 <.001 2 .628 .394.04322.3831,317 <.001 3 .644 .415.02111.2741,316 .001 4 .658 .433.0179.6761,315 .002 5 .668 .446.0137.6191,314 .006 Note: N= 325. 1. Emotion-focused coping. 2. Emotion, School Social Environment stress 3. Emotion, School Social Environment, Acad emic stress. 4. Emotion, School Social Environment, Academic, Task-focused copi ng. 5. Emotion, School Social Environment, Academic, Task Family/Financial stress.


83 Table 4-33. Final Model Regressi on Coefficients for Negative St ress of (PSS) for White Women Predictors Btp Emotion-Focused Coping .4709.806<.001 School Social Environment Stress .1122.217.027 Academic Stress .1603.239.001 Task-Focused Coping .1262.963.003 Family/Financial Stress .1312.760.006 Note: N= 325. Table 4-34. Regression Model Su mmary for Negative Stress of (PSS) for Black Women Only Step R R2R2 chgFchgDf p 1 .520 .270.27038.8951,105 <.001 2 .579 .336.06510.2141,104 .002 3 .604 .365.0304.8061,103 .031 Note: N= 109. 1. Emotion-focused coping. 2. Em otion, Credit Hours Taken. 3. Emotion, Credit Hours Taken, Hours Worked. Table 4-35. Final Model Regressi on Coefficients for Negative St ress of (PSS) for Black Women Only Predictors Btp Emotion-Focused Coping .5436.884<.001 Credit Hours Taken .2653.361.001 Hours Work .1722.192.031 Note: N= 109. Table 4-36. Summary of Predictor Variables for Negative Stress for Female Graduate Students Predictors All Respondents Emotion-Focused Coping Family/Financial Stress Task-Focused Coping Academic Stress Credit Hours Taken Self-Doubt School Social Environment Stress White Women Emotion-Focused Coping School Social Environment Stress Academic Stress Task-Focused Coping Family/Financial Stress Black Women Emotion-Focused Coping Credit Hours Taken Hours Worked


84 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION Although there is a plethora of research on stre ss, there has been little examination focused specifically on female graduate women and their a ttempts to manage their stress. Additionally, there is a lack of research on gender and racial differences in the stress experienced during the pursuit of a graduate degree. Therefore, the pur pose of this study was to assess the influence of five variables on the perceived stress level of female graduate students attending predominantly white institutions (PWIs). This chapter presen ts a summary of research, the major findings of the study, the limitations, implications for theory and practice, and recommendations for future research Summary of Study and Major Findings A convenience sample of 494 Black and White graduate women students was drawn from the graduate departments or campus organizations within two large research universities. The average participant was 29.41 years of age, single, never-married, and did not have children. The majority of the sample was in the early st ages of a Master’s or doctoral degree having completed 2-3 semesters of their program. Participants represented many academic majors across several disciplines and departments. Pa rticipants completed an on-line survey which included: the Perceived Stress Scale, the Pear lin Mastery Scale, the Coping in Stressful Situations, the Graduate Stress Inventory-Revised, and a research er designed forty-two question demographic questionnaire. Data was analyz ed using stepwise re gression analyses and correlational analyses. Race The first hypothesis explored the association between race and perceived stress for female graduate students attending predominantly White institutions. The data analysis showed that


85 there was no significant associa tion between participan ts’ racial group membership and level of perceived stress. This result supports prev ious findings by Rainey (1998) who found no differences by race in her investigation of re ported negative stress for Black and White undergraduate students. These resu lts do not imply that there are no differences in the level of stress reported by Black or White, only that race is not a strongly correlated with sole perceived stress in this sample. Age The second hypothesis investigated the role ag e may play in perceived stress for women graduate students. Study results indicated no si gnificant relationship be tween age and level of stress for this population. It is assumed th at the older an indivi dual becomes the more responsibilities and roles that person assumes. Women often balance multiple roles at home, in society, and at work (Padula, 1994; Padula & Miller, 1999). Alt hough demographic data gathered about participants indicated multiple ro les for most women, the number of roles did not necessarily increase with age nor was age a signif icant predictor of stress for this sample of women. Locus of Control The third hypothesis assumed a re lationship between the locus of control subscales of SelfDoubt and Positive Thinking and the reported level of perceived stress. A low score on the Pearlin Mastery scale indicated a more external locus of control and more Self-Doubt. Hence, the lower the participants Self -Doubt score the higher the level of Self-Doubt symptoms and a greater sense of external locus of control. In this study there wa s an inverse relationship between the Self-Doubt and Negative Stress subscale, mean ing that those respondents who reported more Self-Doubt symptoms reported more Negative St ress also. The Self-Doubt subscale included items indicating feelings of helplessness and poor problem-solving ability. Despite the fact that


86 female graduate students tend to score as well or better than male graduate students on objective measures, women may lack confidence in their ab ility to handle the demands of graduate work, especially in the sc iences (Moyer, 1999). Stress research shows that an individual’s pe rceived ability to handle a potential stressor determines the resultant level of negative eff ects the situation will have on the individual (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Results of this study concur as respondents with an external control orientation experienced more negati ve stress. Researchers suggest that a more exte rnal locus of control has unhealthy consequen ces. However Wade (1996) caut ions against this assumption because negative experiences might promote an external control orientation. Wade (1996) proposed that an external orient ation is understandable and even healthy when it is based on a realization that one is a member of a group that is deprived in society of equal opportunity and treatment as in the case of Blacks and wome n. In society women continue to be underpaid compared to men for the same work, experien ce sexism and for Black women racism becomes an additional stressor (Freeman, 2004; Moyer et. al., 1999). In the parameters of this study, a more external locus of control indicated higher perceived stress. It is unclear, however, if the Self-Doubt symptoms reported by participants is a result of negative experiences in their academic environments. Coping Style The fourth hypothesis explored th e association between coping style and level of perceived stress. The data analysis investigated whether the type of coping style employed correlated with respondents’ reported level of stress. Three c oping styles: (a) Task-focused, (b) Emotionfocused and (c) Avoidance-focused, were correlated to reported level of stre ss. Task or problemfocused coping consists of stra tegies that assume stressful events are controllable whereas emotion-focused coping and avoidance-focused copi ng are associated with strategies used when


87 events are assumed to be uncontrollable (S mith & Dust, 2006). Study results showed a significant relationship between Emotion-focused c oping and perceived level of stress across all three participant groups (all respondents, White women, and Black women). Respondents who used Emotion-focused coping reported higher le vels of stress. Emotion-focused coping techniques include becoming emotionally reac tive and distressed over demands. Emotionfocused coping also involves social withdraw al and self-criticism (Endler & Parker, 1999; Rainey, 1998). A sense of personal control appears to influe nce coping behavior. For example, Aspinwell and Taylor (1992) showed that an internal locus of c ontrol (or positive thi nking) was associated with less use of avoidant and emotion-focused co ping and greater use of task or problem-focused coping. Likewise study findings showed participants with higher Positive Thinking subscale scores also reported less use of avoidant and emotion-focused coping and were more likely to use problem-focused coping strategies. There wa s not a significant rela tionship between either of the loci of control subscales (Self-Doubt and Positive Thinking) and avoidance-focused coping. Perceived effectiveness of coping behavi ors and efforts, which may be a component of sense of control, is an importa nt factor in adults’ distress (Smith & Dust, 2006). The more control perceived over stressors, the more likely one is to use problem-focused coping (Scott & House, 2005). This study’s findings support this notion as both a perceived lack of personal control and emotion-focused copi ng were associated with higher level of perceived stress. Sources of Stress The fifth hypothesis sought to explain the rela tionship between possible sources of stress and reported perceived level of stress for women graduate stud ents. Study results indicated a significant relationship between each of the three subscales (A cademic stress, School Social Environment stress and Family/Finan cial stress) and perceived stre ss. The strongest relationship


88 was between Academic stress a nd Negative stress. Academic st ress included those aspects such as taking exams, meeting deadlines , and interacting with faculty. Study findings support previous re search that identifies comm on sources of stress for all graduate students. Wolniewicz (1996) reporte d that the graduate students in her study experienced stress resulting from meeting resu lting from academic demands, managing multiple roles, and adjusting to academy culture. Likewi se her participants identified academic demands, family obligations and financial constraints as major factors hinderi ng their progress through their program of study. In addi tion, a lack of support outside of the academic environment contributed to poor matriculati on. In the current study 25.22% of the sample cited the conflict between work and school demands as a frequent stressor in their open-ended responses. Additional factors not sp ecified in the Graduate Student Inventory-Revised instrument, but reported by respondents include: physical/menta l illness, personal relationship issues, advisor/faculty member conflict, and personal behavior/attitude, that operate as sources of stress. Predictors of Perceived Stress Results from multiple regression analysis re vealed that a consistent form of coping, emotion-focused, was associated with higher leve ls of perceived stress for all three groups of participants. However, additional predictive factors showed some differences between the groups. There were seven significant predictors for perceived stress to the total sample: emotion-focused coping, family/financial stress, task-focused coping, aca demic stress, credit hours taken, self-doubt, and school social environment stress. Ho wever, there were only four significant predictors of stress for the White women sub-sample: (1) family and financial demands, (2) academic demands, and (3) school social environment associated stress. Contrastingly, there were only two significant pr edictors for the Black women sub-sample: credit hours taken and work demands.


89 Black students’ academic progress has been linked to socioeconomic status, cultural deprivation and class-specific socialization (Cureton, 2003). However both Black and White college students attending PW Is in Cureton’s (2003) study reported experiencing economic hardship in the past year. The data seemed to suggest that socioeconomic status, cultural deprivation, and class-specific socialization may be equally problematic for both Black and White college students. Hence one cannot assume that problema tic internal factors, adverse situational circumstances, and ne gative attitudes concerning the uni versity’s environment, social, and racial climate are racially exclusive or only affect one ra cial group. This study’s findings support the above notion as results indicated stress associated with the ac tual school environment was more of a predictor for Wh ite women than Black women. Limitations of the Study Although the overall results offer insight into the stress experience of female graduate students at predominantly White Institutions in the southeast, generalizability is limited and results should be interpreted with in the context of this study. Th ere are several limitations to the study which include the sampling procedures, the recruitment of partic ipants and resultant sample, the use of self-report measures, and da ta collection techniques. A primary limitation concerns the sampling procedure. The research er was unable to select a random sample of female graduate students. Therefore, a convenien ce sample was used in this study. Participant recruitment relied on graduate coordinators and li stserv moderators and/or organizational contact persons to distribute information about the study to their listserv members. It is unclear as to who actually received the email describing the study. The convenience sampling procedures resulte d in a rather homogenous sample. The resultant sample was composed mainly of singl e, White, women in their mid-to-late twenties, without children. Participants were in the ea rly stages of their degree, having completed 2-3


90 semesters and worked twenty hours or less per wee k. Therefore the results of this study cannot be generalized to all female graduate students as the stress experience of graduate women with additional roles such as spouse and motherhood, is lik ely quite different from the majority of this sample. Additionally, since the study was conducte d at predominantly White institutions, it was difficult to reach Black women through gra duate department and campus organization listservers. The overall proporti on of White women to Black wome n at University A is 15:1 and 8:1 at University B. The resultant sample of Black women was small making patterns harder to see and limiting the generalizability of the study findings. Participant self-reporting bias must also be a ddressed as a limitation in this study. There is no way to know whether the participants’ response accurately represented their experiences of stress, personal control beliefs, or coping. The retrospective nature of the instruments required that participants think back on the experiences they have ha d and actions taken over time. Finally, data was gathered relatively close to th e end of the semester, which may have affected students’ responses as academic demands often increase during the later portion of a semester. Implications of the Findings and Recommendations Implications for Theory The process of stress can be seen as combin ing three major conceptual domains: the sources of stress, the mediators of stress, and th e manifestation of stress (Pearlin et al., 1981). This study sought to examine these three domai ns of stress for female graduate students attending predominantly White inst itutions. Study results indicate that perceived level of stress may be more a function of pers onal coping resources than racial group membership, age, sense of mastery, or sources of stress. These findi ngs support the psychological stress theory as proposed by Lazarus (1966) and discussed in chapters 1 and 2.


91 Coping is a highly individualized defense agai nst threats aroused in highly situationspecific occurrences (Pearlin & Schooler, 1978). Re search shows that coping is associated with psychological well-being and adjustment. Coping appr oach or strategies are integral to the level of psychological well-being as effe ctive responses are be lieved to increase feelings of mastery and reduce the level of anxiety and stress experienced. More pr oblem or task-focused coping aimed at problem-solving often results in less di stress, in contrast to more emotion-focused coping which often results in high er distress levels. Problem-foc used coping is characterized by the individual exerting control over a stressor with the aim of di minishing effect or absolution. Study findings support previous co ping research as emotion-focused coping was correlated with greater perceived stress levels across all three groups of res pondents (All respondents, White respondents, and Black respondents). Additionally, study results indicat e a sense of mastery can be an important mediator in perceived level of stress for some individuals. Mediators of stress are important to the manifestation and intensity of stress experi enced by individuals. Study respondents who subscribed to a more external locus of control, or more self-doubt, re ported higher levels of perceived stress. Those respondents with more se lf-doubt were also more likely to use emotionfocused coping. Therefore a decreased sense of mastery was associated with less effective coping. Implications for Practice The findings of this research contribute to the understanding of the stress experience of women graduate students attending predominantly White institutions. The practical implications of this research are applicable to student mental health and student affa irs professionals who are responsible for creating and implementing recrui tment, outreach and re tention programming and intervention for graduate students. It is important for univers ities to understand that coping


92 resources and tendencies, sense of mastery, and specific stressors are integral components of perceived stress for female graduate students. Counselors and student affairs professionals need to be aw are of the potential gender, racial, and culture specific st ressors graduate women at PWIs may experience. Counseling centers should consider instituting an intake protocol designed to assess and explore the stress experienced by female graduate students while ta king gender, race, and culture into account. A more sensitive protocol would he lp to further contextualize pres enting concerns and aid in the formulation of appropriate inte rventions (Neville et . al., 1997). Furthermore after better assessing the stressors graduate women deal wit h, counseling centers could then address some of these issues by working with othe r offices on campus such as divers ity affairs, to create support and psycho-educational groups and workshops fo r graduate women to aid in coping with stressors. Neville et al., (2004) suggests specific progr ams be designed for Black women to address stress related to relationships, including male/female relationships, as well as stress related to feelings of loneliness, is olation, and self-esteem would be partic ularly helpful. They also suggest finding ways to encourage points of connection on campus for Black students that may also assist in decreasing levels of psychological and interpersonal stre ss. Because of the connection between environmental factors and social and psychological functioning, interventions that do not attend to student’s social milieu may have limited effectiveness. Actively supportive, nondiscriminatory campus environments are associat ed with greater satisfac tion in college, better adjustment, and persistence through graduation (Ancis et al., 2000). Results of the study indicate that the above discussed factors are relevant fo r all female graduate students despite race or ethnicity. Study findings suggest both White an d Black women could benefit from programs


93 aimed at dealing effectively with personal and pr ofessional relationships, college adjustment, and self-esteem. In addition, adequate financial support and information on fina ncial resources for graduate women is important. Financial constraints were the most frequently iden tified hindering factor to academic progress. Forty-one percent of respondents stated financial difficulties as a contributing factor to slower graduate program matriculati on. Conflict between work and academic demands were also frequently cited. Th erefore, programs that provide better financial aid and information on financial opp ortunities could be of great va lue to graduate women and an important element in decreased stress levels. Recommendations for Future Research This study offers insight into the academic stress experience of Black and White female graduate students attending predominantly Wh ite institutions. However, to increase generalizability, further research is needed to formulate a more accurate picture of female graduate students’ perceived stress, specifically the causes and mediators. Given that the study found significant relationships among emotion-focu sed coping style and perceived stress, future research is necessary to identify the ways in wh ich more effective ways and resources for coping can most effectively be fostered in graduate women. Furthermore, given that racial differences we re found in the predictors of perceived level of stress, additional investiga tion is necessary to understand a nd further explore these racial differences. The small sample size of Black wo men in this study did not allow a more defined pattern of predictors to develop. To increase external validity it will be important for researchers to replicate this study using di fferent sampling methods (such as random sampling rather than a convenience sample), gathering data from additio nal sites, and gathering data from a large number of women of color. To explore contextu al aspects that may fact or into perceived stress


94 this study should be replicated at additional predominantly White universities as well as historically Black colleges and uni versities to better define racial differences in perceived stress. Sampling methods should also consider how to in clude those students who are the most stressed and are the least likely to take the time to fill out a survey. Sampling methods also need to insure the inclusion of women who are older, at advanc ed stages of training, and with multiple roles. In addition, qualitative methods may offer gr eater clarity concerni ng the relationships between the variables inve stigated in this study and perceive d level of stress. Most of the previous research on Black stude nts attending predominantly White institutions has focused on negative experiences and the elements that contri bute to low graduation rates. Further research is needed to identify those elements, both pers onal and environmental that lead to success for graduate women of all races. Knowledge of the qualities and aspects that facilitate the decision to attend graduate school, choice of institu tion attended and congruence between student expectations and actual experiences could grea tly enhance the current body of literature on graduate women. Further investigation is also needed on the contextual components of the academic environment of graduate school. Respondents cited support or lack there of in their academic environment as a major contributor or hindrance to their successful ma triculation through their program of study. A more in-depth inquiry in to the specific characteristics of academic environments that lead to and/ or impede success for graduate wo men is integral to understanding their stress experience an d subsequent needs. Nerad and Cerny (1999) found that many women tend to internalize the la ck of attention and caring received in their academic environments as personal failure. This can be interpreted by wo men to mean that they are not “good enough” and lack confidence in their ability to successfully complete their gradua te education (Nerad &


95 Cerny, 1999). This research supports the need for greater investigation into those aspects of the academic demands and environment that may contri bute to a lessened sens e of mastery and lead to more ineffective coping strategies. Summary This chapter provided a discussion of the re sults, the study limitations, implications for theory and practice, and recommendations for futu re research. Overall, the findings indicated a significant association between emotion-focused approaches to coping and higher levels of perceived stress. Racial differe nces were found for the predicti on of perceived stress in this sample of female graduate students. This st udy focused on the perceived level of stress for graduate women, however since the etiology of st ress in women is multifaceted, it is important to identify additional protective factors that can inform outreach, prevention, and treatment strategies at the college level. Further research should be conducted to te ase out more specific elements of coping resources and approaches. Additionally, the actual level of stress experienced by female graduate women remains unclear. The best appr oach to address the issues and concerns of graduate women remains a challenge in higher education. However a clearer understanding of female graduate students’ stress -related experiences is a starting point to helping them remain emotionally healthy and achieve academic success.


96 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT Dear Participant: Enrollment in a graduate program can be bot h an exciting and stressful experience. In this study we seek to understand the kinds of stre ssors and challenges you may experience as a female graduate student. We are also interested in learning about the wa ys in which you respond to and deal with these stressors and challenges. If you agree to participate, you will be as ked to complete a written questionnaire in which you report on the stressors and challe nges you have experienced while pu rsuing a graduate degree. This questionnaire will take approximately 20 minut es to complete. Your identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by the law. Your responses will be coded and no identifying information will be collected. Your name will not be requested in the study or appear in any study documents. No individual reports will be given, however a report of the group data is available upon request. Your participation in this study is completely voluntar y. There is no penalty for not participating. You have a righ t to withdraw from the study at any time without consequence. There are no anticipated risk s of physical, psychological or economic harm involved in participating in this study. In the event you experience distress while completing the questionnaire, a listing of university and commu nity counseling and support resources will be provided. The potential benefits to participation incl ude the opportunity to share a stress-related experience that may eventually lead to more appr opriate services availabl e at the university to better serve you and your needs. There also is no direct compensation fo r your participation in this study. If you have any questions or concerns about this research project, pl ease contact the principal investigator, Lakisha Scott, at (352) 331-4117 or faculty supervis or, Ellen Amatea at (352) 3920731. Questions or concerns about your rights as a participant may be directed to the UFIRB Office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, Florida, 32611-2250, (352) 392-0433. Thank you, Lakisha Scott, MHS Ellen Amatea, Ph. D Principal Investigator Faculty Supervisor -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I have read the informed consent form above. I voluntarily agree to participate in the study. Click Here to Accept (You will be taken directly to the survey)


97 APPENDIX B QUESTIONNAIRE GRADUATE WOMEN’S STRESS EXPERIENCE Enrollment in a graduate program can bring with it new types of demands and stresses. This study seeks to understand the kinds of stressors and challenges you as a female graduate student may experience during your graduate studies and to identify the ways in which you respond or deal with these stressors and challenges. I. PERSONAL BACKGROUND 1. Age ____________ 2. Race: (a) White (b) Black (c) Biracial (d) Other 3. If you answered “Biracial” or “Other” pl ease list your race or racial combination. 4. Ethnicity: (a) African American (b) Caribbean American (c) Haitian American (d) Hispanic (e) African (f) Mixed Ethnicity (g) Other: 5. If you answered “Mixed Ethnicity” or “Other” please list your ethnic background 6. Primary language spoken in home y ou grew up in: _____ _______________ ___________ 7. Your country of origin (where were you born): ______________________________ 8. Your mother/female caregiver’s country of origin: _______________________ 9. Your father/male caregiver’s country of origin: __________________________ 10. Marital/relationship status: (a) Single (b) Married (c) Divorced (d) Separated (e) Widowed (f) Significant Other 11. Do you have children? Yes No 12. If yes how many? ________ 13. How old is your child (children)? ________________________ 14. Current living arrangements and finances: (a) Living alone (b) Living with spouse/significant other (c) Living with other students (d) With roommate (e) Living with family 15. Current annual household income: (a) Below $10,000 (b)$10,001-$20,000 (c)$20,001-$30,000 (d) $30,001-$50,000 (e) 50,001-60,000 (f) Over $60,000 16. What percentage of this income is your earnings: (a) 100% (b) 50% (c) None (d) Other ________ 17. Employment status (circle all that apply): (a) Not employed (b) Self-employed (c) Employed part-time (d ) Employed full-time (e) More than one job 18. Number of hours worked per week: ___________ 19. Please list other sources of income (financia l aid, spouse, roommate etc.) _____________________ ________________________________________________________________________________ 20. Number of members living in current household. ______________________


98 21. Annual household income of household you grew up in: (a) Below $10,000 (b)$10,001-$20,000 (c)$20,001-$30,000 (d) $30,001-$50,000 (e) 50,001-60,000 (f) Over $60,000 22. Number of members living in household you grew up in: ___________ 23. Highest level of education mother/female caregiver completed: (a) Grade school (b) Some high school (c) High school graduate (d) Some college (e) Associates degree (f) Bachelor’s degree (g) Master’s degree (h) Doctorate (i) Professional degree (Law, Medicine, etc.) 24. Highest level of education of father/male caregiver completed: (a) Grade school (b) Some high school (c) High school graduate (d) Some college (e) Associates degree (f) Bachelor’s degree (g) Master’s degree (h) Doctor ate (i) Professional degree (Law, Medicine, etc.) II. ACADEMIC PROGRESS 1. What is the name of the university you are currently attending? ____________________________ 2. What is your program of study (major)? _________________ 3. What department is your major a part of?_____________________ 4.. Degree sought: (a) Masters (b) Specialist (c) Doctorate (d) Other 5. If you answered “Other” please list degree sought __________________________________ 6. Are you the first in your immediate family to earn an undergraduate degree? Yes No 7. Are you the first in your immediate family to seek a graduate or professional degree? Yes No 8. How long (# of semesters) have you been pursuing a graduate degree on this campus? (a) 2-3 semesters (b) 4-5 semesters (c) 6-7 semesters (d) 8 or more semesters 9. Approximate number of credit hours completed ___________ 10. Estimated date of graduation ______________ 11. How do you think you are progressing in your program of study (in relation to planned program, progression towards graduation)? (a) On track, progressing as planned (b) Slightly off track, not progressing as I had hoped to (c) Extremely off track, not progressing well at all (d) Other 12. If you answered “Other” please explain __________________________________________________ 13. What factors have facilitated your progress? (Circle all that apply) (a) Financial support (b) Fa mily support (c) Mentoring by faculty (d) Social support in the academic environment (e) Social support outside of the academic environment (f) Other 14. If you marked “Other” please list those factors ____________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________ 15. What factors have hindered your progress? (Circle all that apply) (a) Financial constraints (b) Family obligations (c) Academic demands (d) Lack of social support outside academic environment (e) Lack of support in academic environment (f) Other


99 16. If you answered “Other” please list those f actors that have hindered your progress. ____________________________________________________________________________ 17. Why did you choose to attend this university to further your studies? (Circle all that apply) (a) Financial support (b) Program options (c) Location (d) School reputation (e) Other 18. If you answered “Other” please tell why you chose your particular university. ____________________________________________________________________________ III. DEMANDS The following items ask you to report about the feelings and thoughts you have experienced during the last month. In each case, please indicate how often you have felt or thought a certain way by circling the appropriate frequency. Although some of the questions are similar, there are differences between them and you should treat each one as a separate question. 1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 2. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and “stressed”? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 4. In the last month, how often have you dealt successfully with irritating life hassles? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 5. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were effectively coping with important changes that were occurring in your life? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 6. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 7. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 8. In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all of the things you had to do? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 9. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 10. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 11. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that happened that were outside of your control? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often

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100 12. In the last month, how often have you found yourself thinking about things that you have to accomplish? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 13. In the last month, how often have you been able to control the way you spend your time? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often 14. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them? 0=Never 1= Almost Never 2=Sometimes 3= Fairly Often 4= Very Often V. GRADUATE SCHOOL EXPERIENCE Below is a list of statements describing a variety of events that you may have experienced during your graduate education. Using the scale below, circ le the number that indicates how stressf ul each of these events has been for you since you entered your graduate program If you have never experienced one of the events listed, leave that item blank. If you have experienced one of the events listed and it has caused a great deal of stress, rate that event towards the ( Extremely Stressful ) end of the rating scale. However if you have experienced one of the listed events, but it has not created stress for you, rate that event towards the lower end of the scale ( Not at all Stressful ). Not at all Stressful Mode rately Stressful Extremely Stressful 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 NS MS ES 1. Fulfilling responsibilities both at home and school 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 2. Trying to meet peers of your r ace/ethnicity on campus 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 3. Taking exams 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 4. Being obligated to participate in family functions 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 5. Arranging childcare 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 6. Finding support groups sensitive to your needs 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 7. Fear of failing to meet program expectations 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8. Participating in class 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 9. Meeting with faculty 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 10. Living in the local community 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 11. Handling relationships 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 12. Handling the academic workload 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 13. Peers treating you unlike the way they treat each other 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 14. Faculty treating you differently than your peers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 15. Writing papers 1 2 3 4 5 6 7

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101 16. Paying monthly expenses 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 17. Family having money problems 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 18. Adjusting to the campus environment 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 19. Being obligated to repay loans 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 20. Anticipation of finding full-time professional work 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 21. Meeting deadlines for course assignments 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 22a. Tell me about a specific stressful event related to academic demands that you have experienced? ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________________________ b. How did you respond to this event? What did you do or say?________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ c. How satisfied were you with your response to this event? Extremely satisfied Satisfied Somewhat satis fied Dissatisfied Extremely Dissatisfied VI. WAYS OF RESPONDING The following items look at the ways people react to various difficult, stressful, or upsetting situations. Please circle a number from 1 to 5 for each item. Indicate how much you engage in these types of activities when you encounter a difficult, stressful, or upsetting situation. Never Sometimes Often 1. Schedule my time better. 1 2 3 4 5 2. Focus on the problem and see how to solve it 1 2 3 4 5 3. Think about the good times I’ve had. 1 2 3 4 5 4. Try to be with other people. 1 2 3 4 5 5. Blame myself for procrastinating. 1 2 3 4 5 6. Do what I think is best. 1 2 3 4 5 7. Become preoccupied with aches and pains. 1 2 3 4 5 8. Blame myself for having gotten into this situation. 1 2 3 4 5 9. Window shop. 1 2 3 4 5 10. Outline my priorities. 1 2 3 4 5

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102 Never Sometimes Often 11. Try to go to sleep. 1 2 3 4 5 12. Treat myself to a favorite food or snack. 1 2 3 4 5 13. Feel anxious about not being able to cope. 1 2 3 4 5 14. Become very tense. 1 2 3 4 5 15. Think about how I solved similar problems. 1 2 3 4 5 16. Tell myself that it is really not happening to me . 1 2 3 4 5 17. Blame myself for being too emotional about the situation. 1 2 3 4 5 18. Go out for a snack or meal. 1 2 3 4 5 19. Become very upset. 1 2 3 4 5 20. Buy myself something new. 1 2 3 4 5 21. Determine a course of action and follow it. 1 2 3 4 5 22. Blame myself for not knowing what to do. 1 2 3 4 5 23. Go to a party. 1 2 3 4 5 24. Work to understand the situation. 1 2 3 4 5 25. “Freeze” and not know what to do. 1 2 3 4 5 26. Take corrective action immediately. 1 2 3 4 5 27. Think about the event and learn from my mistakes. 1 2 3 4 5 28. Wish that I could change what had happened or how I felt. 1 2 3 4 5 29. Visit a friend. 1 2 3 4 5 30. Worry about what I am going to do. 1 2 3 4 5 31. Spend time with a special person. 1 2 3 4 5 32. Go for a walk. 1 2 3 4 5 33. Tell myself that it will never happen again. 1 2 3 4 5 34. Focus on my general inadequacies. 1 2 3 4 5 35. Talk to someone whose advice I value. 1 2 3 4 5 36. Analyze the problem before reacting. 1 2 3 4 5

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103 37. Phone a friend. 1 2 3 4 5 Never Sometimes Often 38. Get angry. 1 2 3 4 5 39. Adjust my priorities. 1 2 3 4 5 40. See a movie. 1 2 3 4 5 41. Get control of the situation. 1 2 3 4 5 42. Make an extra effort. 1 2 3 4 5 43. Come up with several different solutions to the problem. 1 2 3 4 5 44. Take some time off and get away from the situation. 1 2 3 4 5 45. Take it out on other people. 1 2 3 4 5 46. Use the situation to prove that I can do it. 1 2 3 4 5 47. Try to be organized so I can be on top of the situation. 1 2 3 4 5 48. Watch TV. 1 2 3 4 5 IV. BELIEFS OF CONTROL In the following items you will be asked to look at how well you deal with certain situations and events. Circle the response that most closely resembles your agreement or disagreement with the statement. Strongly agree Agree Disagree Strongly Disagree 1 2 3 4 SA A D SD 1. I have little control over the things that happen to me. 1 2 3 4 2. There is really no way I can solve some of the problems I have. 1 2 3 4 3. There is little I can do to change many of the important things in my life. 1 2 3 4 4. I often feel helpless in dealing with the problems of life. 1 2 3 4 5. Sometimes I feel that I’m being pushed around in my life. 1 2 3 4 6. What happens to me in the future mostly depends on me. 1 2 3 4 7. I can do just about anything I really set my mind to. 1 2 3 4 VII. FINAL THOUGHTS 1. If a potential female graduate student asked you for advice on how to be successful in your department/program and this university, what would you say to her? (Being successful in your department/pro gram) __________ _______________ ____________ __________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ (Being successful at this university) ________________ _______________ _______________ __________ ______________________________________________________________________________________

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104 ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ 2. If the student above were African American would your advice change? Yes No If yes please describe below. (Being successful in your department/pro gram) __________ _______________ ____________ __________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ (Being successful at this university) ________________ _______________ _______________ __________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________ 3. Is there anything else you think the researcher should know about stress, coping etc. concerning female graduate students or in general? ____________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________

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105 LIST OF REFERENCES Alexander-Snow, M. (2000). Two African Amer ican women graduates of historically White boarding schools and their social integration at a tradit ionally White university. Journal of Negro Education, 68 (1), 106-119. Allen, W.R. (1982). Winter 1981 study of black graduate/professional students attending predominantly white state supported universi ties. Ann Arbor: Michigan University, Center for Afro-American and African Studies. (E RIC Documents Reproduction Service No. ED 227 788). Allen, W.R. (1987). Black colleges vs. White colleges: The fork in the road for Black students. Change, 19, 28-31. Allen, W.R. (1992). The color of success: African American college student outcomes at predominantly White and historica lly Black public colleges and universities. Harvard Educational Review, 62, 26-44. American Council on Education. Gender equity in higher education: 2006. Retrieved on September 22, 2006 from . Ancis, J.R., Sedlacek, W.E., & Mohr, J.J. (2000) . Student perceptions of campus cultural climate by race. Journal of Counseling and Development, 78, 180-185. Arnold, F.W. (1993). “Time is not on our side”: Cultural vs. structural explanations of black American women students’ ach ievement in the urban, non-elite university. The Urban Review, 25(3), 199-220. Astin, A. W. (1998). The changing American college student: Thirty-year trends, 19661996. The Review of Higher Education, 21, 115-135. Ayalon, L. & Young, M.A. (2005). Racial group differences in help-seeking behaviors. The Journal of Social Psychology, 145(4), 391-403. Beale, F. (1970, 2005). Double jeopardy: To be black and female. In T. Cade (ed.), The black woman: An anthology , pp. 90-100. New York: New American Library. Billings, A. & Moos, R. (1981). The role of c oping responses and social resources in attenuating the imp act of stressful life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 139157. Bowman, J. W. (1992). America’s Black colleges . Boston: Quality Books. Brower, A.M. & Ketterhagen, A. (2004). Is th ere an inherent mismatch between how Black and White students expect to su cceed in college and what their colleges expect from them? Journal of Social Issues, 60(1), 95-116.

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109 Hartnett, R. (1976). Environments of advanced learning. In J. Katz & R. Hartnett (Eds.), Scholars in the making: The developm ent of graduate and professional students (pp. 49-84). Cambridge, MA: Ballinger. Howard, D. (1996). The relationshi p of internal locus of control and female role models in female college students. Publishe d doctoral dissertation, University of Texas, Austin. Howard-Vital, M.R. (1989). African Americans in higher education: Struggling to gain identity. Journal of Black Studies, 20 , 180-191. Jackson, L.R. (1998). The influence of both race and gender on the experiences of African American college women. The Review of Higher Education, 21(4), 359-375. Johnson, J. & Sarason, I. (1979). Mo derator variables in life stre ss research. In I. Sarason & C. Speilberger (Eds.), Stress and anxiety, Vol. 6, (pp. 151-168). Washington, DC: Hemisphere. Johnson-Bailey, J. (2004). Hitting and climbi ng the proverbial wall: Participation and retention issues for black graduate women. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 7(4), 331349. Johnson-Bailey, J. (1999) Participation and re tention concerns of Black women adult learners. In D.W. Ntiri (Ed.), Peda gogy for adult learners: Me thods and strategies (pp. 7-34). Detroit: Wayne State Univer sity, Office of Adult a nd Lifelong Learning Research. Johnson-Bailey, J. & Cervero, R.M. (1996). An an alysis of the educati onal narratives of reentry Black women. Adult Education Quarterly, 46(3), 142-157. Jones, L.V. (2004). Enhancing psychosoc ial competence among Black women in college. Social Work, 49(1), 75-83. Kim, M.M. (2000). Historically Black vs. Wh ite institutions: Academic development among Black students. The Review of Higher Education, 25, 385-407. Kimbrough, R.M., Molock, S.D., & Walton, K. (1996). Perception of social support, acculturation, depression, and suicidal ideation among African American college students at a predominately black and predominately white universities. Journal of Negro Education, 65(3), 295-307. King, K.R. (2005). Why is discrimination stre ssful? The mediating role of cognitive appraisal. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology, 11(3), 202-212.

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117 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Lakisha Marie Scott was born on November 22, 1974, in Gainesville, Florida. She received her bachelor of health science degree in 1995, and her master of health science degree in 1997, from the University of Florida. Afte r graduation, she will continue working as an elementary school counselor at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.