Assessing student stress in clinical labratory science programs: Online versus face-to-face




Hendrix, Ericka C.

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Universities across the country are implementing online courses and programs as of their growth plan. However, attrition rates for online course and programs continue to be higher than face-to-face courses and programs. The purpose of this study was to determine if there were significant differences in perceived stress levels and coping styles between face-to-face clinical laboratory science students and online clinical laboratory science students. Additionally, this study determined if there was a relationship between perceived stress and GPAs for both programs of enrollment. The results of this study are useful for administrators and faculty to develop curricula that addresses stress, coping, and academic success for both online and face-to-face clinical laboratory science programs. To measure the perceived stress of students the Perceived Stress Scale 10 item survey was utilized. The Brief COPE Inventory, a 26 item survey was utilized to measure coping strategies. Demographic data was added to the survey to collect information about the respondents including age, marital status and working status. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center students enrolled in the face-to-face clinical laboratory science program (n=40) and online second degree (n=37) students participated in the study in the spring semester of 2014. The results indicate that there was not a significant difference in perceived stress scores or coping mechanisms among the programs. The results did indicate that active coping was used more often by the online students than the face-to face students; however, it was not statistically significant. There was a significant negative correlation between the face-to-face students’ perceived stress scores and their GPA. The more stress the face-to-face students reported the lower their GPA was. There was not a significant correlation between the online students’ perceived stress scores and their GPA. The results also showed that both cohorts perceived more stress than the general population.
The results of this study can be used to develop stress training programs for both online and face-to-face students that should include active coping skills and practical problem solving as major parts of the curriculum. Understanding the levels of stress students’ perceive, what coping strategies they use, and how their academic performance is related to stress will help instructors and administrators increase student success and retention.



Perceived stress, Coping strategies, Attrition