Comparing educational stress levels in students sitting A-Levels and the Leaving Certificate

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Byrne, Keith
Issue Date
BA in Psychology
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this quantitative study is to look at two hypotheses; that students sitting the Leaving Certificate will experience higher levels of stress compared to students who sit the A-Levels examination due to the increased number of examinations and the short period of time which the leaving cert takes place; and that students who take part in transition year will have lower stress levels compared to students who go straight from the Junior Certificate into preparing for the Leaving Certificate due to having a year out for extra preparation. The participants of the study are 57 male and 37 female students from Northern Ireland; and 14 males and 8 female who completed transition year, and 19 male and 29 female who didn't complete transition year students from Southern Ireland. The criterion variable is Perceived Stress Scale and the predictor variables are Coping, Self-Esteem and Self Efficacy. A regression analysis was completed and found a significant result. It indicated that the amount of variance explained by the combined interaction of the eight predictor variables is 51.2% (Adjusted R Square = 0.0435, F(8,155)=22.34, p<.001). It was also found that Location has a significant moderately strong effect (Standardised Beta = .37, p<.001) on perceived stress levels. Sex (Standardised Beta = .25, p<.001). A One-Way ANOVA showed that there was a statistically significant difference at the p<.001 level in PSS scores for the three groups (Northern Ireland, Transition and Leaving Certificate) [F(2,161)=32.3,p=.000]. A future direction would be to increase the number of participants and complete a health screening to see if the stress levels are high enough to cause side effects.