Gender Differences in Stressors and Coping Strategies Among Teacher Education Students at University of Ghana


Source: Journal of Education and Learning; Vol. 9, No. 2, 123-133

(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This research investigated gender differences in stressors among teacher education students of the University of Ghana and the adaptation stratagems they might utilise to manage stress.
Understanding the factors that contribute to students’ stress is necessary for appreciating the efficiency of coping strategies in improving stress management programmes.
It is hoped that by exploring stressors and coping mechanisms utilised by teacher education students, the tension can be reduced, enabling them to perform effectively and efficiently in their scholastic undertaking.

Research Questions
1) What are the stressors encountered by male and female teacher education students?
2) What coping strategies do male and female teacher education students employ to control stress?
3) How do male students differ from female students regarding stressors they encounter?
4) How do male students differ from female students regarding the kind of coping stratagems they employ to control stress?


Research Design
The study utilised a cross-sectional descriptive survey design to investigate the differences between male and female learners regarding stressors and coping approaches they might adopt to minimise stress.
The purpose of using the survey design was to interrogate teacher education students concerning stressors they encounter and the adaptation strategies they might employ to offset or minimise the stress.
This type of research design is mainly concerned with the description of some phenomena.

Sample - The population of the study consists of teacher education students offering undergraduate education programmes at the University of Ghana during the 2018/2019 academic year.
Two hundred and seventy second and third year teacher education students comprising 144 females and 126 males pursuing programmes in English Education, General Education, Mathematics Education and Science Education took part in this investigation.
The ages of respondents ranged between 17 and 26 years, with an average age of 20.98 years.

Instrumentation - A Self-Report Survey Questionnaire with closed-ended and open-ended questions was designed and administered to 2nd and 3rd year teacher education students to ascertain the stressors they encounter and the adaptation stratagems they might employ to manage stress.

Data Collection Procedure - Data for the study were collected in April 2019 in the department of teacher education of the school of education and leadership, University of Ghana site.

Findings and discussion
Academic-related stressors were interrogated and the findings suggest that scholastic work such as the writing of assignments, attending lectures, making presentations, writing tests and end of semester examinations put so much pressure on learners.
Despite the difference in means related to the conflict in time management between males and females, the difference was not significant.
Similarly, it is not surprising that ‘conflict in time management’, had the greatest mean and standard deviation, which suggests variability in the responses on the psychosocial stressors’ scale.
These findings agree with the results of some previous studies (Kumiyeboah, 2010; Panchabakesan, 2011; Torto, 2009).
Although previous studies (Kumiyeboah, 2010; Torto, 2009) also found ‘lack of time for relaxation’, and ‘inability to concentrate during lecture’ as some stressors, this study reported otherwise.
Although the mean difference in gender is insignificant, females had higher overall mean than their male counterparts.
This result in gender differences regarding stressors suggests that females are more prone to emotional instability compared to their male counterparts.
This is not surprising as research (Calvarese, 2015) has indicated that more females encountered greater degrees of sorrow, disappointment, and nervousness when reacting to stress than their male counterparts.
Additionally, on religion females prayed and meditated more than their male counterparts by their responses.
This is predictable as religion plays an important role, particularly among Ghanaian women when it comes to solving problems that confront them specifically with problems that do not have social structures to alleviate its undesirable consequences.
This result conforms with the findings obtained by Amponsah and Owolabi (2011), as well as Kwaah and Essilfie (2017) on the stressors experienced by regular and distance education students at the University of Cape Coast.
Ghanaians, in general, are highly religious and a bit superstitious and might give spiritual connotation to issues that tend to confront them if they seem not to have any solution at hand.
Furthermore, contrary to the popular notion that students use substance abuse such as ‘using tobacco/alcohol/drug to feel better’, this study revealed otherwise.
These outcomes corroborate research findings of a study conducted by Sideridis (2008), which suggested that there are five significant strain adapting stratagems namely, browsing the internet, sleeping and resting, watching TV or movies and instant messaging as frequently used coping strategies by students.
This study showed that teacher education students do not indulge in drugs and that females are more averse to using drugs to feel better than their male counterparts.
This finding is inconsistent with studies such as Misigo (2015) who indicated that male learners reported negative coping strategies such as taking alcohol and drug use.
These results suggest that gender does influence self-distraction as a coping strategy.
Specifically, the authors’ results suggest that females use self-distraction such as “doing something to take my mind off the situation such as watching TV, movies, shopping, listening to music”.
In other words, females use more adaptive strategies to cope with stress compared with their male counterparts who might use maladaptive strategies.

Amponsah, M., & Owolabi, H. O. (2011). Perceived stress levels of fresh university students in Ghana: A case study. British Journal of Educational Research, 1(2), 153–169.
Calvarese, M. (2015). The effect of gender on stress factors: An exploratory study among university students. Social Sciences, 4, 1177–1184.
Kumi-Yeboah, A. (2010). A Look at the trend of distance and adult education in Ghana. International Forum of Teaching and Studies, 6(1), 19–28.
Kwaah, C. Y., & Essilfie, G. (2017). Stress and coping strategies among Distance Education Students at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana. Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDE, 18(3), 120–134.
Misigo, B. L. (2015). Gender difference in the perceived level of stress and coping strategies among university students in Kenya: A case of public universities. International Academic Journal of Social Sciences and Education, 1(4), 44–52.
Panchabakesan, S. (2011). Problems and prospective in distance education in India in the 21st century. Problems of Education in the 21st Century, 30, 113–122.
Sideridis, G. D. (2008). The regulation of effect, anxiety, and stressful arousal from adopting mastery-avoidance goal orientations. Stress and Health, 24(1), 55–69.
Torto, B. A. (2009). Problems of part-time students in Ghana: Implications for distance education. African Journals Online, 7. 

Updated: Dec. 03, 2020