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Coping Strategies of Fourth Year Students in Santa Rosa Science High School During Examination for the School Year 2011-2012 (Research Proposal)

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A thesis presented to the faculty of Polytechnic University of the Philippines

In partial fulfillment of all the requirements on RH 630 Research Seminar I Master in Educational Management


Ms. Jesusa G. Habig

Summer 2011
Chapter I



In schools, every student guaranteed to have tests. Unfortunately, many students do not handle the stress taking exams well. Despite what some people might think, all stress is not bad. How students cope with stress is different story. If the student is able to take exam stress, feeling and forcing oneself to act in a positive way, such as studying effectively, stress can be good. Not coping well with exam stress however can make attending school difficult.
Learned resourcefulness theory suggests that people high in resourcefulness can minimize the negative effect of stress on their performance, therefore they can do better than less resourceful individuals under stressful conditions (Rosenhaum, 1990). The purpose of this study is to determine the coping strategies of fourth year high school students of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School during examinations and to investigate the effects of coping strategies on students’ satisfaction and academic achievement. It will help students and teachers have a satisfying teaching and learning relationship.

Statement of the Problem

The main problem of this study is to determine the different coping strategies employed by fourth year students during examinations of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School during the school year 2011-2012 and to investigate the effects of coping strategies on students’ satisfaction and academic achievement. Based on the major problem, the specific problems are stated as follows: 1. Which one of the two main (problem focused and emotion focused) coping strategies is adopted by the fourth year students of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School for school year 2011-2012 and is there any shift from one to the other over time? 2. Does coping strategy correlate with student satisfaction with academic achievement? 3. Is coping strategies can be used as an indicator to predict student satisfaction with academic success?

Statement of Hypothesis

Students who mainly use problem-focused/passive coping strategies should be satisfied with their academic achievement in the examinations and that they should be higher than those of the students who adopted emotion-focused coping.

Conceptual Framework

Table 1. Relating Coping Strategies to the Performance in Exams of Fourth Year Students
Independent Variable Intervening Variable Dependent Variable Coping Strategies | Values | Performance in Examinations | Problem-focused coping | Learning styles | Outstanding | Emotion-focused coping | Time management | Very satisfactory | | Priorities | Satisfactory | | Personality Variables | Fair | | Situational factors | Unsatisfactory |

Significance of the Study

The study will of be significance to the following:
Guidance counselor. It would help her/him suggest and inform and encourage students to use the best coping strategy during examinations. During the orientation and guidance counseling on special cases related to the topic, it will direct the counselor in guiding the students to adopt a good coping strategy.
Students. It will help students manage stresses during examinations by lessening worries; schedule hindrances and other that may affect students’ study attitudes.
Teachers. It would be easier for teachers to use strategies like problem solving and practical exams during lessons that would enhance the students’ performance in examinations. Those strategies are also the best in minimizing stress on both parts.
The school. Less stressed students will be performing good in examinations, will give credits to teachers for having the best performing students, and therefore, will uplift the schools’ academic performance in regional and national exams like Achievement test, contests, etc.

Scope and Limitations of the Study

This study is limited on determining the coping strategies of fourth year students during examinations of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School during the school year 2011-2012. It involves all the one hundred and sixty six (166) fourth year students of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School, male and females. There are four sections namely; Einstein, Maxwell, Newton and Hertz. Data gathering employed the questionnaire that the researcher admits has the limitation of bias. Hence, the questionnaire was supplemented by observation and interview and the analysis of published and unpublished journals, articles, theses and dissertations as bases for formulating the questionnaire. A written academic examination will also be used to relate it to the coping strategies of students. The study focuses attention only on the coping strategies concerned and is confined to the period 2011-2012, first semester only. Findings of the study would therefore, be true only for the subjects concerned and for the given period of time, although these could be used as basis for similar studies that would be conducted at the different schools of the country.

Definition of Terms

Academic Achievement. It encompasses student ability and performance; it is multidimensional; it is intricately related to human growth and cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development.

Academic examinations. It is the most comprehensive form of testing, typically given at the end of the term and one or two times during the semester.
Anxiety. It is a concern or solitude respecting some thing or event, future or uncertain, which disturbs the mind, and keeps in a state of painful uneasiness.
Coping strategy. It is a behavior that helps people to function well in a given stressful situation.

Emotion-focused coping. A strategy used to handle feelings of distress, rather than the actual problem. It is directed at managing or reducing emotional distress, which includes cognitive strategies such as looking on the bright side, or behavioral strategies such as seeking emotional support, having a drink or using drugs.

Learned resourcefulness. It refers to the behavioral repertoire necessary for both repressive self-control and reformative self-control. This repertoire includes self-regulating one's emotional and cognitive responses during stressful situations, using problem-solving skills, and delaying immediate gratification for the sake of more meaningful rewards in the future.

Problem-focused coping. A strategy used to tackle the problem directly. It happens when efforts are directed at solving or managing the problem that is causing distress. It includes strategies for gathering information, making decisions, planning and resolving conflicts.

Stress. It is the body’s reaction to a change that requires a physical, mental or emotional adjustment or response. It can come from any situation or thought that makes you feel frustrated, angry, nervous, or anxious.

Chapter II

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Related Literature Many students experience some nervousness or apprehension before, during, or after an exam. This kind of state anxiety can be a powerful motivator. However, some student experience test-related anxiety to such a degree that it can lead to poor performance and interfere with their learning. These students suffer from test anxiety also called examination anxiety (Psychological Wiki, 2011).

a. Physical - headaches, nausea or diarrhea, extreme body temperature changes, excessive sweating, shortness or breath, light-headedness or fainting, rapid heart beat, and/or dry mouth. b. Emotional - excessive feelings of fear, disappointment, anger, depression, uncontrollable crying or laughing, feelings of helplessness c. Behavioral - fidgeting, pacing, substance abuse, avoidance d. Cognitive - racing thoughts, 'going blank', difficulty concentrating, negative self-talk, feelings of dread, comparing yourself to others, difficulty organizing your thoughts.
Test anxiety can develop for a number of reasons. There may be some prior negative experience with test taking that serves as the activating event. Students who have experienced, or have a fear of, blanking out on tests or the inability to perform in testing situations can develop anticipatory anxiety. Worrying about how anxiety will affect you can be as debilitating as the anxiety itself. This kind of anxiety can build as the testing situation approaches, and can interfere with the student's ability to prepare adequately. Lack of preparation is another factor that can contribute to test anxiety. Poor time management, poor study habits, and lack of organization can lead to a student feeling overwhelmed. Student's who are forced to cram at the last minute will feel less confident about the material covered than those who have been able to follow a structured plan for studying. Being able to anticipate what the exam will cover, and knowing all the information has been covered during the study sessions, can help students to enter the testing situation with a more positive attitude.
Lack of confidence, fear of failure, and other negative thought processes may also contribute to test anxiety. The pressure to perform well on exams is a great motivator unless it is so extreme that it becomes irrational. Perfectionism and feelings of unworthiness provide unreasonable goals to achieve through testing situations. When a student's self-esteem is too closely tied to the outcome of any one academic task, the results can be devastating. In these situations, students may spend more time focusing on the negative consequences of failure, than preparing to succeed. Test anxiety prevents students from demonstrating their knowledge on examinations. To be covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act, test anxiety must pass two legal tests. First, it must be a "mental impairment." As a form of Social Phobia, a mental disorder included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it meets this first test. Second, it must "substantially limit one or more of the major life activities." Individuals for whom test anxiety is one manifestation of Social Phobia-Generalized are substantially limited in the major life activities of interacting with others and working. Individuals for whom test anxiety is the only manifestation of their Social Phobia are substantially limited in the major life activities of thinking and working, the latter because they are excluded from any career requiring a test for application, credentialing, licensure, or training. Accommodations may include taking the test in a separate room or taking an untimed examination. Documentation supporting a diagnosis of test anxiety should include evidence of significant impairment in test performance.
Coping is a process that can be defined as ongoing cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage psychological stress to protect psychological and physiological wellbeing (Lazarus, 1987). Coping strategies are generally clustered into two broad categories: problem-focused and emotion-focused ways of coping. Problem-focused coping involves actively working to alleviate the stressful person-environment relationship by changing circumstances. Emotion-focused coping, in contrast, involves efforts to regulate the internal emotional consequences of stressful or potentially stressful events rather than change the events themselves. This strategy involves thoughts and/or actions that relieve or lessen the emotional impact of stress (Springer, 1984). A coping strategy cannot be defined as purely problem focused or emotion focused. In reality, any coping thought or act can serve as both. However, in general, when stressful conditions are viewed by a person as refractory to change, emotion-focused coping predominates; when they are appraised as controllable by action, problem-focused coping predominates (Lazarus, 1993). Coping is highly contextual, since, to be effective, it must change over time across different stressful conditions. Therefore, a shift can be seen between main coping strategies of a person over the course of time (Folkman and Lazarus, 1986). The theory of coping links efficacy to the quality of the fit between the coping strategy, its execution and the adaptation requirements of the encounter (the goodness-of-fit hypothesis). It was expected that effectiveness of problem versus emotion-focused coping is moderated by control appraisals of the stressful event (Zakowski, Hall, Klein, and Baum, 2001).

Related Studies

When people encounter stressful life events they try to change the adverse effects of these events on their wellbeing by using a number of coping strategies. The transactional theory defines coping as ‘the person’s cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage (reduce, minimize, master or tolerate) the internal and external demands of the person-environment transaction that is appraised as taxing or exceeding the person’s resources (Folkman, Lazarus, Gruen and Delongis, 1986, p.2) Folkman and Lazarus (1985) emphasize that an individual’s coping responses will change depending on the changing person-environment relationship. To examine this proposition a number of studies based on transactional theory have focused on students’ ways of coping at different stages of examination. In their classic study, Folkman and Lazarus (1985) examined changes in emotions and coping responses during the three stages of examination. Students decreased their use of problem-focused coping, and were likely to seek social support, or to emphasize the positive, and self-isolation, but increased distancing from the preparation stage to the waiting stage. Students also decreased wishful thinking and distancing from the waiting stage to the outcome stage. Results of the studies examining student’s appraisals and coping responses in different stages of an examination have supported transactional theory indicating significant changes in students’ appraisals and coping strategies (Carver and Scheier, 1994; Raffety, Smith and Ptacek, 1997). Researchers have consistently reported that students have tended to use more planful problem solving during the preparation stage compared to the waiting stage. Similarly, seeking social support ahs been used more during the preparation stage. Research findings for other forms of coping are mixed rather than consistent. For example, Folkman and Lazarus (1985) found that positive reappraisal was utilized more during the preparation stage, whereas Carver and Scheier reported no significant difference in the use of positive reframing depending on the situation. A number of studies have reported a significant relationship between personality dispositions and coping responses (Parkes, 1984; Terry, 1991). For example, Bolger (1990) examined the efforts of both situation and neuroticism on coping responses. Results indicated a significant effect of neuroticism by time on coping. Specifically, subjects high in neuroticism used more wishful thinking and more self-blame compared to their low neuroticism counterparts in the pre-examination stage, but not in the post-examination stage. Bolger interpreted these findings as a contribution to “the understanding of how static personality traits reveal themselves dynamically under stress” (p.536). The literature suggests that personality variables as well as situational factors are associated with individuals’ appraisals and coping responses. Learned resourcefulness has been defined as an acquired repertoire of behaviors and skills (mostly cognitive) by which a person self-regulates internal responses (such as emotions and cognitions) that interfere with the smooth execution of a target behavior (Rosenbaum and Jaffe, 1983, p. 216). Learned resourcefulness includes four aspects; the use of self statements to control emotional responses, the application of problem solving strategies, the tendency to delay immediate gratification, and perceived self efficacy. The theory suggests that people high in resourcefulness can minimize the negative effects of stress on their performance; therefore, they can do better than low resourceful individuals under stressful conditions (Rosenbaum, 1990). Empirical studies have supported this prediction, indicating a significant effect of learned resourcefulness on performance on the face of stressful situations (Akgun and Ciarrochi, 2003; Kennett, 1996; Rosenbaum and Ben-Ari, 1985; Rosenbaum and Jaffe, 1983). To examine whether high resourcefulness individuals change their coping strategies according to situational demands, Gintner, West and Zarski (1989) studied the relationship between learned resourcefulness and coping strategies of an examination situation. It was found that high resourcefulness subjects tended to use significantly more problem focused coping strategies during the examination preparation week than did low resourceful subjects. Conversely, low resourceful subjects reported using significantly more wishful thinking and distancing during the preparation week than did high resourceful subjects. Studies on coping responses suggest that personality variables as well as situational factors are related to coping. In his literature review, Lazarus (1993) emphasized that much more research examining the influence of personality variables on different coping responses is needed. Following his advice, the influenced have learned resourcefulness as well as situation on coping responses has been examined in the present study. In a study by Mustafa Kemal Alimuglo entitled Ways of Coping as Predictors of Satisfaction With Curriculum and Academic Success in Medical School in Antalya, Turkey, the author found out that the majority of medical students predominantly use a problem-focused coping strategy when they face instruction-related stress. A shift between the main coping strategies of medical students can be seen over time. Ways of coping predict satisfaction with practicals and success in practical exams. He strongly recommends that medical schools conduct relevant research in their institutions considering the limitations of the present study to test the generalizability of the data presented here. In the ‘Study coping and examination taking coping strategies: the role of learning modalities among female graduate students’ by Kathleen M.T. Collins and Anthony J. Onwuegbuzle in Arkansas, USA, the authors said that study coping strategies and examination-taking coping strategies have been identified as two dimensions of this construct. Research suggests that both components predict academic performance. Thus, the present study was designed to determine antecedent correlates of coping strategies. Specifically, the goal was to identify a combination of learning modalities that might be correlated with the two dimensions of coping strategies. Participants were 82 female graduate students enrolled in several sections of a required quantitative-based educational research course at a southern university. A canonical correlation analysis revealed that study coping strategies and examination-taking coping strategies simultaneously were related statistically significantly to the following learning modalities: (a) motivated/unmotivated, (b) persistent, (c) responsible, (d) structure, (e) learning alone/peer-oriented learner, (f) auditory, (g) kinesthetic, (h) evening/morning, and (i) needs mobility. Implications are discussed.

Justification of the Present Study

The present study is related to the past studies posted in the review literature. It also deals with coping strategies among students. It is also original in the sense that the present study is to be done in a different place and a different country. Results may vary or may be the same. It will test whether the result of the present study is highly related or different with other studies. The present study is also different from the past studies in the sense that, aside from the different location, different respondents will also be used in this study. The Filipino students are far more different than of the students from other countries.

Chapter III


Research Design
This was a prospective follow up study. Determine first the coping ways of fourth year students of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School using a questionnaire at the beginning of the academic year of 2011-2012. Simultaneously, deliver a sociodemographic questionnaire to be completed by the students. Toward the end of the first semester of academic year of 2011–2012, when the participants were about to complete the second quarter of their high school education, a coping ways and sociodemographic questionnaires will be delivered again to find out if any changes had occurred in coping ways and characteristics. Finally, obtaining exam scores attained by the participants in the first 2 quarters of their fourth year high school education. Using all data, investigate the relation between coping ways and of satisfaction with academic achievement.

Determination of Sample Size

All one hundred sixty six fourth year students of Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School will be the respondents of this study.

Sampling Design and Technique

This study will use a scientific sampling technique. At first, all 166 fourth year students are included in the study. Those who will have failing grades on exams in the next series of test will be excluded, also those who are not able to finish completely or failed to pass the questionnaires of the study.

The Subjects

The total population is small (only 166) so all of the fourth year students are included as subjects of the study. There will be no sampling to be used in this study. There will be 40 students from section Einstein, 42 students each from sections Maxwell, Newton and Hertz respectively for a total of 166.
Table 2. Distribution of Subjects Sections | Frequency | Percent | Einstein | 44 | 27.3 | Ampere | 40 | 24.8 | Newton | 39 | 24.3 | Hertz | 38 | 23.6 | Total | 161 | 100 |

The Research Instruments

There will be three kinds of questionnaires that will be used in this study: sociodemographic questionnaire, the revised ways of coping questionnaire, satisfaction questionnaire in relation with the examination performance, and the academic scores from the students’ monthly and quarterly exams.
The first questionnaire asks the participants’ age, sex, address, former elementary school, and factors or persons influenced the participants’ decision to study in Santa Rosa Science and Technology High School. The second questionnaire intends to ask whether and to what extent a person had used certain thoughts and actions in a particular stressful encounter.
The third one will determine the satisfaction levels of students with their performance in monthly and quarterly examinations. The scores attained by the students from the exams throughout the first semester of their stay as fourth year students as the indicators of their academic achievement. For each participant, 2 monthly and 2 quarterly examination score will be available.

Validation of the Instruments All the three questionnaires will be submitted to the investigator’s adviser for correction and suggestions. The criteria used in validation must follow the one suggested by Good and Scates. All answers should be affirmative. For reliability test, the questionnaire will be administered first to some randomly selected students who are not fourth year students. The result will be treated statistically using Student’s t-test for the sociodemographic characteristics, paired samples t-test for the changes in main coping strategies over time, Pearson correlation analysis will be used to find out the correlation between coping and satisfaction, and exam scores. Finally, multiple regression analyses will be applied to find if coping scores are predictors of students’ satisfaction with exam grades. P values of <0.05 were set for statistical significance. Data Gathering Procedure

Having found the questionnaire valid and reliable, the investigator then sought the approval of the Department Heads and Principal of the school to allow her to conduct the study. After the approval of these officials, the researcher administer the questionnaires. The sociodemographic questionnaire will be administered in the second week of June 2011. The coping strategy questionnaires and academic satisfaction questionnaires will be administered every after the schedule of monthly and quarterly examinations. Scores in the exams will then be collected after checking.

Data Processing Method

After the retrieval of the questionnaire, tabulation and data processing either manually or by machine will follow.

Statistical Treatment

The statistical tools used in the interpretation of data and testing of null hypothesis included the frequency counts, arithmetic mean, Students’ t-test, paired samples t-test, Pearson correlation analysis and multiple regression analysis. Students’ t-test will be used to compare the mean coping scores according to sociodemographic characteristics; paired samples t-test will analyze the changes in main coping strategies over time; Pearson correlation analysis will be used to find out the correlation between coping, satisfaction, and exam scores. Finally, multiple regression analyses were applied to find if coping scores are predictors of students' satisfaction with exam grades.

t-test formula: Paired sample t-test

Pearson correlation analysis

Multiple regression analysis

Y = a + b1*X1 + b2*X2 + ... + bp*Xp

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