The Influence of family environment, life stress and coping strategies on academic performance among African women students at the University of Natal, Pietermaritzburg.
MetadataShow full item record
The present study investigates the interrelationships and relative contributions of family environment, stress and coping preferences in relation to academic performance outcomes among a sample of 93 African women student at the University of Natal in Pietermaritzburg. The students' perception of their family environment was assessed through the Family Environment Scale (Moos and Moos, 1986). Information regarding coping behaviours/ preferences and life stress was elicited through the self-report measures of Ways of Coping Checklist (Folkman and Lazarus, 1980), and the Life Experiences Survey (Holmes and Rahe, 1976). The dependent variable of Academic performance was assessed through the students' weighted average marks for the year. Socioeconomic Status and other demographic factors are included in the model. The study lends support to the multidimensional models of stress and coping in the investigation of the academic performance of Black students in predominantly White universities. Multiple regression procedures were performed to examine which variables from the Family Environment Scale (FES), the Ways of Coping Checklist (WCC), the Negative Change Score (stress index from the Life Experiences Survey), and demographic variables, influenced academic performance. Control, the extent to which the family demonstrates clearly dermed and enforced rules, was the most significant family environment factor in accounting for academic performance and was found to have a positive correlation with the latter. Generally, the relative contributions of the particular family environment variables in predicting performance outcomes was small. Although family environment, life stress and coping preferences were correlated on a number of dimensions, clear interactive effects between these factors were not yielded. As was hypothesised, coping efforts were found to mediate stress. Further, students' background/ demographic variables accounted for 42% of the variability in academic performance, and a number of possible explanations for these results are discussed. Finally, in evaluating the present study, suggestions concerning improvement in design and possible directions for future research are made.