The Relationships Among Stress of Living Situation, Health, and Academic Performance
Sponsored by Missouri Western State University Sponsored by a grant from the National Science Foundation DUE-97-51113
Home |
The proper APA Style reference for this manuscript is:
IVIE, R. M. (2004). The Relationships Among Stress of Living Situation, Health, and Academic Performance. National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse, 7. Available online at http://www.webclearinghouse.net/volume/. Retrieved December 11, 2017 .

The Relationships Among Stress of Living Situation, Health, and Academic Performance
RYAN M. IVIE
LOYOLA UNIVERSITY DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHOLOGY

Sponsored by: ELIZABETH HAMMER (eyhammer@loyno.edu)
ABSTRACT
Several elements of college students’ lives are related to students’ academic performance. Two hypotheses were tested concerning the interrelationships of stress of living situations, lifestyle health, and academics. The first hypothesis was that, for college students, stress associated with living situations and academic performance would be negatively related. The second was that health and academic performance would be positively related. It was further hypothesized that stress of living situations and health would be interrelated were tested. To test these hypotheses, 120 undergraduate Loyola University students, both male and female, filled out three-part surveys measuring living situation stress, lifestyle health, and academic performance, respectively. Stress of living situation was found to be weakly negatively related to GPA, nutrition was found to be positively related to GPA, drug and alcohol use was found to be negatively related to GPA, stress and health were found to be interrelated, and housing type was found to be related to GPA and drug and alcohol use. This study expands the understanding of the factors relating to academic performance, provides insight into college lifestyles and experiences, and provides data that can be used by students, parents, and college administrators and faculty in order to improve college academic performance.

The Relationships Among Stress of Living Situatio


INTRODUCTION
The living situations that college students experience are varied due to the diversity of housing options and environments available. Some of the aspects of college student living environments may act as stress factors in students’ lives. The stress related to living situations that college students’ experience has several sources including relationships with roommates, suitemates, and neighbors; the condition of the rooms, apartments, or houses that students inhabit; and the neighborhood, area on campus, and general living environment. These sources of stress undoubtedly have an impact upon the students’ lives but in what way and to what extent are debatable. The mind and body are interrelated such that psychological stress is related to physical health and vise versa (Gruber, 1975). People can, to a certain extent, control their level of physical health through maintaining regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, minimizing drug and alcohol use, and sleeping adequate and regular amounts. College campuses often see dichotomous behavior with regard to health. On the one hand, college students are often young and active particularly those involved in athletics. On the other hand, college students often abuse drugs and alcohol and do not maintain healthy diets or sleep patterns. The health of college students’ lifestyles surely has an impact on the students’ lives beyond mere physical fitness. For example, studies have shown that healthy sleep habits and eating breakfast are positively related to the college experience and student performance (Trockel, Barnes, & Egget, 2000). Exercise has also been found to have relationships with variables other than physical fitness such as mental performance (Gruber, 1975), and substance abuse has been negatively correlated with student achievement (Field, Diego, & Sanders, 2003). From studies such as these it can be inferred that health is related to several aspects of students’ lives, particularly academic performance. The relationship of health variables on academic performance is of particular interest because, for college students, academic achievement is of utmost importance as it is a determining factor of their acceptance into graduate schools and because good grades in college have been shown to be highly related to career success (Tan, 1991). It is undeniable that academic performance is related to several factors other than intelligence. Events or situations outside of the classroom can have significant impacts on college students’ academic performance. The level of health of students’ lifestyles appears to be related to academic achievement, and stress may also be a variable that predicts students’ performance. Particularly, the role of stress related to students’ living situations is of interest.Based on several studies, it appears that there is a relationship between living situations and college academic performance. Schrager (1986) showed that the interpersonal environments that arise within different living groups have an impact on college students’ academic performance. For example, students who are living in residence halls tend to do better academically than students who are living in off-campus apartments or fraternity and sorority houses (Blimling, 1999). It is suspected that this phenomenon is in part due to the living group and the resulting social environment indicative of off-campus apartments and fraternity and sorority houses. Additionally, the academic motivation of a student’s roommate has been shown to have a positive impact on that student’s academic achievement (Blai, 1972). There are probably several factors generating this relationship between living situation and academic achievement. One of these factors may be stress associated with living situation. For instance, it may be the case that living off-campus is more stressful than living in residence halls and that this influences academic performance. Also, students who are more successful academically may create less stress for their roommates and, thus, allow them to perform better. The idea that stress may be a force behind these relationships is supported by a study conducted by King (1998) that showed that for pre-college age students, levels of conflict within the family living situation is negatively related to academic performance. Based on King’s study it may be the case that the stress of family conflict is somehow related to low academic performance. Stress of living situation may be similarly related to academic performance of college students, but this specific relationship has not been examined. However, the role of another variable, health, in predicting academic performance has been studied extensively. The topic of health can be broken down into a variety of variables such as exercise, nutrition, drug and alcohol use, and sleep, and most studies have chosen one these variables to examine. For example, Gruber (1975) has shown that, for younger children, there appears to be a clear positive relationship between physical fitness and academic performance. This study was extended by Field, et al. (2001) to include older children, and a similar relationship was found. In order to identify the factors involved in this relationship, Gruber (1975) further studied the physiological responses of animal subjects to exercise. He found that enriched activity in animals’ environments and exercise produced positive changes in brain anatomy and chemistry. More specifically, exercise has been shown to increase serotonin levels (Nash, 1996). Nash (1996) also found that exercise resulted in increased performance on cognitive tasks. This relationship between exercise and cognition in animal subjects may be the result of the described changes in brain chemistry induced by exercise, and similar physiological responses may occur in humans. In the very extensive study conducted by Field, et al. (2001) it was found that high levels of exercise among students were related to several characteristics. Frequent exercise predicted closer relationships with parents, lower levels of depression, less frequent drug use, and higher academic performance (2001). This study reinforces the notion that mind and body are related, sometimes in unexpected ways. Since parent-child relationships are often associated with stress, this study also suggests that levels of stress may be related to health factors such as exercise. Another aspect of health that has been shown to be related to academic performance is nutrition. One aspect of the relationship between diet and academics concerns the consumption of a breakfast meal. Eating breakfast appears to predict high grade point averages (Trockel et al., 2000), and it seems to influence recall ability and short-term spatial memory (Benton & Sargent, 1992). Another health variable to be considered is drug and alcohol use. Field et al. (2003) found that there is a negative relationship between academic performance and substance abuse (specifically cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use). A final aspect of health that may be related to academic performance is sleep. Trockel et al. (2000) showed that sleeping in throughout the week and going to bed late on weekends predicts lower academic success when compared to students with more healthy sleep patterns. It should be noted, however, that these results may be confounded by alcohol use. Although several studies, including those discussed above, have examined variables that are associated with academic performance, the research concerning academic performance and its predictors is by no means complete. Most of the studies that have been conducted narrowly focus on one topic, such as exercise, and choose to ignore related issues such as diet (e.g., Gruber, 1975). Other studies are extremely broad, such as those concerning place of residence (e.g., Blimling, 1999), thus failing to produce results specific enough to be useful. Studies (e.g., Blimling, 1999) have shown that place of residence is related to academic performance, but few studies have focused on the specific factors that may influence this relationship. Stress of living situation is one of these factors that has not been examined in detail. Concerning health, some studies introduce confound by excluding certain variables (e.g., Trockel et al., 2000). For example, some studies relating sleep to academic performance fail to examine frequency of drug and alcohol use and, thus, do not know if their results are actually explained by drug abuse rather than sleep (e.g., Trockel et al., 2000). Although some of these limitations are unavoidable when using correlational research methods, there is further room for study of college lifestyles and experiences. Based on previous research, there might be a relationship between the stress of living situation and college students’ academic performance. Most studies concerning the relationship between the level of health and the academic performance of college students have not been comprehensive in that they have not examined exercise, diet, drug and alcohol use, and sleep simultaneously. Additionally, due to the complex relationship between body and mind, it seems likely that the level of stress of living situation and the level of health of college students’ lifestyles influence each other. This study was designed to examine these topics and to fill the gaps of previous research. It is hypothesized that, among college students, there is an inverse relationship between the stress of living situation and academic performance and a positive relationship between level of health of lifestyle and academic performance. It is further hypothesized that low levels of stress resulting from living situations and high levels of health of students’ lifestyles together predict optimal academic achievement.


METHODS
Participants The population consisted of undergraduate psychology students from Loyola University who participated on a voluntary basis predominantly for the purpose of receiving credit for Psychology courses in which they are enrolled. Participants were over the age of 18 years, and both male and female participants were used. Researchers went to undergraduate Psychology classes and recruited students by introducing the study and passing out a sign up sheet with information about the study and available times for participating in the study. The psychology department human participants pool was also used to recruit volunteers. A sign up sheet with information about the study was posted, and interested students were able to sign up for particular times when the study was to be administered. The participants selected, to the best of the investigators` knowledge represented all racial/ethnic groups. MaterialsThis study used a five-page survey consisting of two adapted versions of published scales concerning stress and health as well as questions concerning academic performance (see Appendix). The first part of the questionnaire measures the stress of students’ living situations. It is a stress survey that has been adapted from the Perceived Stress Scale (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983) in order to refer specifically to the stress of the living situations that the students experienced during the semester previous to that in which they are completing the survey. The Perceived Stress Scale was originally created in response to the limitations of previous commonly used objective and subjective measures of stress. It measures the degree to which situations in one’s life are appraised as stressful, and it has adequate internal and test-retest reliability and agrees with a range of other self-report and behavioral data on participants (Cohen et al., 1983). There are fifteen questions, and each has five possible responses ranging from never to very often, one of which must be circled. The participants are instructed to consider the following elements when choosing one of the five alternatives for each question: roommate(s), the room/apartment/house itself, neighbors/suitemates, neighborhood or area on campus, and the general environment of the living arrangement. An example of the questions asked is, “Last semester, how often did you feel that you were unable to control aspects of your living situation? Circle one: 0—Never, 1—Almost Never, 2—Sometimes, 3—Fairly Often, 4—Very Often.”The second part of the questionnaire measures health of students’ lifestyles. It is a survey adapted from the Health-Related Variables Survey (Trockel et al., 2000) in order to refer specifically to their lifestyles in the semester previous to that in which they are completing the survey. Some additional questions have been added to ensure that the survey adequately generates information concerning the participants’ exercise habits, diet, drug and alcohol use, and sleep patterns. There are sixteen questions, and each question is asked using the stem: “Last semester, how many days a week did you _____?” The participants are asked to indicate their response as a number from one to seven on the blank below each item. An example of the questions asked is, “Last semester, how many days a week did you engage in at least a moderate amount of physical activity? (‘Moderate amount’= 30 minutes of moderately intense activities, such as brisk walking, or 15-20 minutes of more intense activities, such as jogging or playing basketball.)_____ days per week.” The third part of the questionnaire measures academic performance. It asks the participant to record their gender and their exact grade point average, credit hours enrolled, and hours worked per week for the previous semester.Design and ProcedureThis study used a non-experimental, correlational design. Participants were asked to come to a room in the psychology department on the campus of Loyola University, where they were administered the survey in groups. When participants arrived at the study location, they were seated and provided with a basic introduction to the study and its general purpose of examining college experiences and college lifestyles. They were then handed a copy of the consent form that they read. In order to ensure confidentiality, they were not asked to sign the consent form. Instead, it was made clear that by taking the survey they implied consent. The consent form contained contact information for counseling services in case questions concerning drug and alcohol use caused discomfort or raised concerns about drug abuse. The participants kept the consent form for their records. The participants were then handed the survey packet, which included the above-mentioned surveys. They were given as much time as they needed to fill out the survey (approximately ten to twenty minutes). Once the survey was complete, the participants were informed that the survey was intended to measure the relationship among stress of living situation, health, and academic performance, and they were encouraged to ask questions. Any questions raised were addressed, and the participants were thanked and allowed to leave.


RESULTS
The sample consisted of 120 Loyola University undergraduates. There were 28 males and 92 females, 56.7% of these students lived in residence halls, 30.8% lived in off-campus apartments, and 11.7% lived with their parents. The average GPA of the participants was 3.38 (SD = 0.50), the average credit hours enrolled in was 15.41 (SD = 2.03), and the average work hours were 8.18 (SD = 8.88). The stress scale was created by reversing the numeric values (ranging from zero to four) of some questions so that higher numbers always indicated higher levels of stress. For each participant, the fourteen questions regarding stress of living situation were then averaged together resulting in a stress score for that participant. The average stress score for the sample was 1.62 (between “almost never” and “sometimes”) (SD = .6148). The exercise scale was based on an average of the two questions concerning days per week of physical activity and strength training. The average exercise score for the sample was 2.43 (SD = 1.6702). The nutrition scale was created by reversing the numeric values (ranging from zero to seven) for questions concerning bad eating habits so that for all of the questions higher scores indicated better nutrition. The scores on the eleven questions regarding eating habits were averaged for each participant, and the average nutrition score for the sample was 4.26 (SD = 0.88). The drug and alcohol scale was based on three questions concerning days per week usage of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs. The average drug and alcohol score for the sample was 1.36 (SD = 1.61). The sleep scale was based on one question asking how many days per week the participant’s slept for less than seven hours. The average sleep score for the sample was 3.32 (SD = 1.95). The first hypothesis was that, among college students, there would be an inverse relationship between the stressfulness of living situation and academic performance. Pearson’s correlation tests were run and the results for all of the tests are reported in Table 1. These tests showed weak support for the first hypothesis. There was a negative relationship between stress scores and GPA that approached significance (r = -.164, p = .074). The second hypothesis was that there would be a positive relationship between healthiness of lifestyle and academic performance. This hypothesis was supported in regard to nutrition, and drug and alcohol use. There was a significant positive relationship between nutrition scores and GPA (r = .192, p < .05), and there was a significant negative relationship between drug and alcohol scores and GPA (r = -.258, p < .01). It was further hypothesized that low levels of stress resulting from living situations and high healthfulness of students’ lifestyles together would predict optimal academic achievement. Because the relationship between stress scores and GPA only approached significance, testing this hypothesis (i.e. with multiple regression analysis) was not appropriate. However, the results of this study do suggest the presence of a relationship between that stress resulting from living situation and health of students’ lifestyles. There was a positive relationship between drug and alcohol scores and stress scores (r = .274, p < .01), there was a negative relationship between exercise scores and stress scores that approached significance (r = -.169, p = .065), and there was a negative relationship between nutrition scores and stress scores that more weakly approached significance (r = -.151, p = .100).There were several other findings of interest. There was a positive relationship between amount of hours worked per week and number of days per week where participants’ slept less than seven hours that approached significance (r = .152, p = .098). There was a significant negative relationship between amount of hours worked per week and GPA (r = -.195, p < .05). Interestingly, there was also a significant positive relationship between exercise scores and number of days per week where participants’ slept less than seven hours (r = .224, p < .05). There was a very significant positive relationship between exercise scores and nutrition scores (r = .318, p < .001). There was also a significant negative relationship between nutrition scores and drug and alcohol scores (r = -.197, p < .05). Finally, there was a negative relationship between drug and alcohol scores and credit hours enrolled in that approached significance (r = -.170, p = .064).Additionally, an ANOVA test was run to examine the relationship between housing type and several variables. There was a significant difference in GPA for participants living in different housing types (F(2,116) = 3.107, p < .05). Based on Student-Newman-Keuls post hoc tests, participants who lived with their parents had significantly lower GPAs than students who live in residence halls and students who live in off-campus apartments. There was also a significant difference in drug and alcohol scores for participants living in different housing types (F(2,116) = 8.467, p < .001). Based on Student-Newman-Keuls and Tukey HSD post hoc tests, participants who lived in off-campus apartments had significantly higher drug and alcohol scores than students who lived in residence halls and with their parents.


DISCUSSION (PART 1)
The first hypothesis, that there would be an inverse relationship between the stress of living situation and academic performance, was weakly supported. Although this study used 120 subjects, an even greater number of participants could have easily allowed this hypothesis to be strongly supported. These results suggest that stress may indeed be one of the factors in students’ lives that influence academic performance. The relationship between living environment and academic performance may be present because as living situation stress increases, students may become more distracted from their school work and thus perform more poorly. Also, if one’s residence becomes a place of stress then that residence may no longer be conducive to effective studying. These results suggest that the same process creating the negative impact of family conflict on academic performance for pre-college age students found by studies such as that by King (1998) may continue for college students, manifested in the relationship between stress of living situation and academics. The second hypothesis, that there would be a positive relationship between level of health of lifestyle and academic performance was supported in regard to nutrition and drug and alcohol use. Considering past research, it is surprising that no relationship between exercise and academic performance was found. Although Gruber (1975) and Field et al. (2001) showed that, for pre-college age children, there is a positive relationship between physical fitness and academic performance, based on the current results it appears that this relationship does not persist for students in their late teens and twenties. Perhaps the changes in brain anatomy and chemistry (Gruber, 1975) and the increases in serotonin levels and cognitive ability (Nash, 1996) resulting from exercise are processes that occur only in children below a certain age. Alternatively, physical activity in young children may be a reflection of the good parenting and home environment that also contributes to children’s academic performance. In college, the decision to exercise is more of a personal one compared to young children whose lifestyle is significantly controlled by their parents. Thus, high levels of physical activity in college are likely to be associated with different lifestyle factors, and exercise for some college students may even be a method of avoiding academic pressures.The findings in support of a relationship between nutrition and academic performance are very exciting because they greatly extend the findings of previous research. Trockel et al. (2000) were able to find a relationship between eating breakfast and academic performance but not between nutrition in general and academic performance. Benton & Sargent (1992) had found that eating breakfast influences recall ability and short-term spatial memory, and the results of this study suggest that nutrition in general may generate the same benefits. It may be that eating healthier produces greater academic performance, but it may also be that particular traits of students who are academic achievers also help these students maintain healthy eating habits. Additionally, good parenting may be a factor common to students who are academically motivated and who are conscious of their nutrition. This study confirms the negative relationship between drug and alcohol use and academic performance found by previous studies such as Field, et al. (2003). There are several possible explanations for this relationship. Drug and alcohol use may distract students from their academics, it may lower their cognitive functioning or ability, and it may be that students already inclined to perform poorly are also the students who are inclined to use drugs and alcohol. Additionally, it may be that drug and alcohol use is an escape or coping mechanism for poor performance in school.The results of this study did not support previous findings of a relationship between sleeping habits and academic performance (i.e. Trockel et al., 2000). One possible explanation for the lack of this relationship is that students who sleep less are losing sleep because they are spending more time studying. Trockel et al., (2000) predicted that their findings concerning sleep may have been confounded by drug and alcohol use, but this study found no relationship between amount of sleep and drug and alcohol use (Table 1).The final hypothesis that low levels of stress resulting from living situations and high levels of health of students’ lifestyles together would predict optimal academic achievement was not tested because of the weakness of the relationship between stress of living situation and GPA. However, the results do indicate that stress resulting from living situation and high levels of health of students’ lifestyles were interrelated. The interrelationship was supported in regard to drug and alcohol and weakly supported in regard to exercise and nutrition. The interrelation of stress and exercise support previous findings that psychological stress is related to physical health and vise versa (Gruber, 1975). The positive relationship between drug and alcohol usage and amount of stress associated with living situation may result from drug and alcohol use causing stress between roommates. Alternatively, students who are stressed by their living situations may turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate this stress. Students who are stressed by their living situation may also be stressed by a variety of events in their lives and may turn to drugs and alcohol to alleviate all of these stresses. The weak negative relationship between exercise and stress is very intriguing. That students who exercise more are less stressed by their living situation may indicate that exercise is an effective mechanism for relieving stress. It may also suggest that certain traits of students who exercise may contribute to these students’ increased immunity to living environment stress. This relationship suggests that there may be a common mechanism connecting the positive relationship between exercise and quality of adolescent parent-child relationships (Field et. al, 2001) and the relationship between exercise and quality of college living environment. The weak negative relationship between nutrition and level of stress may suggest that eating healthy contributes to stress management or that some other trait is common for students who eat healthy and who are not easily stressed. However, this study also found a strong positive relationship between exercise and nutrition such that students who exercise regularly tend to eat better than students who do not exercise regularly. Thus, the weak relationship between nutrition and stress may be confounded by the relationship between exercise and nutrition.


DISCUSSION (PART 2)
The results of this study include several interesting findings that go beyond the initial hypotheses. The weak positive relationship between amount of hours worked per week and number of days where participants’ slept less than seven hours and the strong negative relationship between amount of hours worked per week and GPA suggests that jobs may be detrimental to college students’ sleep habits (and thus their health) as well as their academic performance. This relationship should be taken to heart by college students and their parents as quitting jobs or cutting down work hours may significantly improve student GPAs.The surprising positive relationship between frequency of exercise and number of days per week where participants’ slept less than seven hours suggests that exercise may conflict with students receiving adequate hours of sleep. This is unfortunate seeing as other results of this study suggest that exercise may be beneficial to limiting the stress that students experience as a result of living situation. There was also a significant negative relationship between quality of nutrition and drug and alcohol use. This is unsurprising because it seems unlikely that students who use drugs and alcohol would be concerned with eating healthy. Also, it is likely that people concerned with their health tend to limit their drug and alcohol use. The negative relationship between drug and alcohol use and credit hours enrolled in suggests that when students are taking fewer classes they have more time in which they can use drugs and alcohol. Also, students who frequently use drugs and alcohol may have been performing poorly in classes and dropped one or more classes during the semester. The relationship between credit hours in which students are enrolled and drug and alcohol use may be of great interest to parents who wish to ensure that their children enroll in a large number of classes in order to limit the likelihood of drug and alcohol use.Other findings of interest are those concerning relationships among types of housing and other variables. This study found that students who live with their parents tend to perform academically worse than both students who live in residence halls and students who live in off-campus apartments. This may be because students who live with parents are doing so because they are chronic low achievers whose parents request that they live at home in order to ensure that they perform better academically. Alternatively, the home environment may include distractions and stresses that students living away from their parents do not experience. It may also be that students living at home suffer from not being in an environment that revolves around academics. The home environment Blai (1972) found that the academic motivation of a student’s roommate often has a positive impact on that student’s academic achievement. This relationship offers another suggestion for why students living parents do not perform as well as others. Students living with their parents do not have roommates who are also enrolled in college while students living in residence halls and in off-campus apartments generally have academically involved roommates. This study found no significant relationship between the academic performance of students who lived in residence halls and students who lived in off-campus apartments. These results are contrary to the findings of Blimling (1999) that students living in residence halls perform academically better than students living off-campus. This relationship may be one that is present at some universities and absent at others. This study also found that students who live in off-campus apartments use drugs and alcohol significantly more than students who lived in residence halls and with their parents. This may be because parents and the rules of residence halls restrict drug and alcohol consumption. Additionally, students who enjoy using drugs and alcohol may be more likely to pursue living off campus so that they can more easily use these substances. These results may be of particular interest for parents who wish to limit the opportunity of their child’s drug and alcohol use. They may be able to do so by ensuring that their child lives on campus or at home.There are several implications of the results of this study, some of which have been mentioned above. The results weakly supporting the negative relationship between stress of living situation and academic performance provide helpful information for college students wishing to succeed in college. These results suggest that students should limit the stress produced by their living situation by carefully picking roommates and housing types and locations. Students may also want to improve their chances for academic success by finding ways in which they can relieve stress that does arise as a result of their living environment. This study suggests that exercise may be a good tool for relieving this stress. This information may also be useful to college administrators especially concerning on-campus residence halls.Although causal connections can not be made, the positive relationship that this study found between nutrition and academic performance and the negative relationship it found between drug and alcohol use and academic performance suggest that students wishing to perform their best in college should eat as healthy as possible and limit drug and alcohol use. This information may be useful to college administrators who may be able to increase students’ awareness of the benefits of nutrition and the harmful effects of drug and alcohol use. Because good grades in college are related to career success (Tan, 1991), all of these results are important because they identify several factors that may have an influence on students’ grades and thus can be targeted in order to improve student performance.Despite the fact that this study was successful in discovering and confirming several significant relationships, there were some limitations of this study. First of all, the extent of this study was limited by the fact that the researchers were constrained by the time length of one semester in which to complete this study. The number of subjects used was clearly sufficient to produce several significant results, but, since there were several relationships that approached significance as well, increasing the number of subjects could have increased the number of significant relationships. A limitation of the subjects that were used is that they were all Loyola University New Orleans students, the vast majority of which were Psychology majors. Conducting this study on participants with a wide variety of majors may have produced different results. The fact that all of the participants were students of Loyola University, a private Catholic university, provided excellent data on the factors related to academic performance for this university, but it is unclear whether these results can be generalized to other universities, especially those outside of New Orleans. Another limitation is the fact that, unsurprising due to the large ratio of females to males in the Psychology department and at Loyola University as a whole, less than a quarter of the participants were male. A study with more equivalent proportions of males and females may have produced slightly different results.This study produced several important results but it also raised important questions. Due to the correlational nature of the study, causal relationships could not be drawn. Thus it is unclear which of the relationships in this study are confounded by the presence of other variables. Future experimental studies in laboratory settings may be able to determine the causes of the relationships that this study uncovered. One particular possibility for future experimental research is to examine the possible biological processes connecting stress, nutrition, and drug and alcohol use to lower academic performance. Other possibilities for future research include conducting the same or similar studies at other universities throughout the nation to determine whether the relationships found at Loyola University can be generalized to the population of college students at American universities. This study succeeded in many of its objectives. It confirmed that several factors other than intelligence are related to academic performance. It discovered that, for college students, there seems to be a negative relationship between the stress that students experience in their living situation (as a result of roommates, neighbors, housing type and location, etc.) and their academic performance, and that there is a positive relationship between nutrition and academic performance. The study also confirmed that there is a negative relationship between drug and alcohol use and academic performance and that the stress of the mind and the health of the body are interrelated. Beyond confirming the hypotheses, the study determined that students living with parents perform academically worse than students of any other housing type and that students living in off-campus apartments use drugs and alcohol significantly more than students of any other housing type. By generating these results, this study expanded the scholarly knowledge of college lifestyles and experiences and provided data that can be used by students, parents, and college administrators and faculty in order to improve college academic performance.


REFERENCES
Benton D., & Sargent J. (1992). Breakfast, blood glucose and memory. Biological Psychology, 33, 207-210.Blai, B. (1972). Roommate-impact upon academic performance. Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior, 9, 47-48.Blimling, G.S. (1999). A meta-analysis of the influence of college residence halls on academic performance. Journal of College Student Development, 40, 551-561.Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., & Mermelstein R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24, 385-396.Field, T., Diego, M., & Sanders, C. (2003). Academic performance, popularity, and depression predict adolescent substance abuse. Adolescence, 38(149), 35-43.Field, T., Diego, M., & Sanders, C.E. (2001). Exercise is positively related to adolescents’ relationships and academics. Adolescence, 36(141), 105-110.Gruber, J. (1975). Exercise and mental performance. International Journal of Sport Psychology, 6, 28-40.King, A. (1998). Family environment scale predictors of academic performance. Psychological Reports, 83, 1319-1327.Nash, R. (1996). The serotonin connection. Journal of Orthomolecular Medicine, 11, 327-328.Schrager, R. H. (1986). The impact of living group social climate on student academic performance. Research in Higher Education, 25, 265-276.Tan, D. (1991). Grades as predictors of college and career success: The case of a health-related institution. Journal of College Admission, 132, 12-15.

Trockel, M., Barnes, M., & Egget, D. (2000). Health-related variables and academic performance among first-year college students: Implications for sleep and other behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 49, 125-131.


TABLES AND FIGURES
 Table 1

Correlation Matrix for Relationships Between the Study’s Variables Sleep GPA Credits Work Hours Gender Stress Exercise Nutrition Drug and alcohol useSleep r 1.000 p -- GPA r 0.042 1.000 p 0.650 -- Credits r 0.123 0.342 1.000 p 0.180 0.000 -- Work Hours r 0.152 -0.195 0.011 1.000 p 0.098 0.032 0.908 -- Gender r 0.052 0.019 -0.127 0.025 1.000 p 0.575 0.834 0.165 0.790 -- Stress r 0.019 -0.164 0.003 0.012 -0.064 1.000 p 0.833 0.074 0.976 0.901 0.489 -- Exercise r 0.224 0.141 0.015 0.025 -0.141 -0.169 1.000 p 0.014 0.125 0.871 0.783 0.126 0.065 -- Nutrition r 0.062 0.192 0.065 -0.086 0.129 -0.151 0.318 1.000 p 0.503 0.035 0.483 0.350 0.160 0.100 0.000 -- Drug and r 0.049 -0.258 -0.170 0.077 -0.069 0.274 -0.063 -0.197 1.000alcohol use p 0.596 0.004 0.064 0.403 0.454 0.002 0.496 0.031 -- N = 120


APPENDIX
 Survey administered to participants

PART 1

The questions in this scale ask you about your feelings and thoughts about your living situation during the Fall 2003 semester. Elements to be considered when evaluating your living situation include your roommate(s), your room/apartment/house itself, your neighbors/suitemates, your neighborhood or area on campus, and the general environment of your living arrangement. In each case, you will be asked to indicate how often you felt or thought a certain way. Although some of the questions are similar, there are differences between them and you should treat each one as a separate question. The best approach is to answer each question fairly quickly. That is, don’t try to count up the number of times you felt a particular way, but rather indicate the alternative that seems like a reasonable estimate. For each question circle one of the following alternatives: 0. never1. almost never2. sometimes3. fairly often4. very often

1. Last semester, how often were you upset because of something that happened unexpectedly concerning your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

2. Last semester, how often did you feel that you were unable to control aspects of your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

3. Last semester, how often did you feel nervous and “stressed” due to your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

4. Last semester, how often did you have to deal with irritating hassles involving you living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

5. Last semester, how often did you feel that you were effectively coping with problems associated with your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

6. Last semester, how often did you feel confident in your ability to handle personal problems related to your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

7. Last semester, how often did you feel that things in your living situation were going your way?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

8. Last semester, how often did you find that you could not cope with all the negative aspects of your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

9. Last semester, how often were you able to control irritations with your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

10. Last semester, how often did you feel that you were on top of things concerning your living situation?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

11. Last semester, how often were you angered because of things that happened in your living situation that were outside of your control?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

12. Last semester, how often did you find yourself thinking about things concerning your living situation that you had to deal with?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

13. Last semester, how often were you able to control the way you spend your time while in your place of residence?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

14. Last semester, how often did you feel that difficulties related to your living situation were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

0 1 2 3 4 Never Almost Never Sometimes Fairly Often Very Often

15. Last semester, in what type of location did you live?

0 1 2 3 Residence Hall Off-campus Apartment With Parents Other

PART 2

For the following questions indicate your response (1-7) on the blank below each item:

Last semester, how many days per week did you

1. engage in at least a moderate amount of physical activity?(“Moderate amount”= 30 minutes of moderately intense activities, such as brisk walking, or 15-20 minutes of more intense activities, such as jogging or playing basketball.)

_____ days per week

2. engage in weight lifting or some form of strength training?

_____ days per week

2b. For an average of _____ minutes per day

3. take a daily vitamin and mineral supplement?

_____ days per week

4. eat breakfast?

_____ days per week

5. eat lunch?

_____ days per weekLast semester, how many days per week did you

6. eat at least 2 servings of fruit?(1 serving = 1 medium apple, banana, orange; ˝ cup of chopped, cooked, or canned fruit; or ľ cup of fruit juice)

_____ days per week

7. eat at least 3 servings of vegetables?(1 serving = 1 cup raw leafy vegetables; ˝ cup of other vegetables, cooked or chopped raw; or ľ cup of vegetable juice)

_____ days per week8. eat at least 2 servings of meat, poultry, fish, dry beans, eggs, or nuts?(1 serving = 2-3 ounces of cooked lean meat, poultry, or fish; or ˝ cup of cooked dry beans; 1 egg counts as 1 ounce of lean meat; 2 tablespoons of peanut butter or 1/3 cup of nuts count as 1 ounce of meat)

_____ days per week

9. eat at least 6 servings of bread, cereal, rice, or pasta?(1 serving = 1 slice of bread; 1 ounce of ready to-eat cereal; or ˝ cup of cooked cereal, rice, or pasta)

_____ days per week

10. consume at least 2 servings of milk, yogurt, or cheese?(1 serving = 1 cup of milk or yogurt; or 1-˝ ounces of natural cheese2 ounces of process cheese)

_____ days per week

11. eat from a fast food restaurant?

_____ days per week

12. drink soft drinks?

_____ days per week

13. eat candy or sweet deserts?

_____ days per week

Last semester, how many days per week did you

14. use a tobacco product (i.e. cigarette, chewing tobacco)?

_____ days per week

15. drink alcohol?

_____ days per week

16. use drugs other than alcohol and tobacco (i.e. marijuana or others)?

_____ days per week 17. sleep less than seven hours?

_____ days per week

PART 3

For the following questions, fill in the blanks:

1. Last semester, what was your grade point average (GPA)? ________

2. Last semester, how many credit hours were you enrolled in? ________ credit hours

3. Last semester, how many hours a week did you work? ________ hours

4. Please mark one: male___ female___

Submitted 5/10/2004 7:45:28 PM
Last Edited 5/10/2004 8:08:57 PM
Converted to New Site 03/09/2009

Rated by 0 users. Users who logon can rate manuscripts and write reviews.

© 2017 National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse. All rights reserved. The National Undergraduate Research Clearinghouse is not responsible for the content posted on this site. If you discover material that violates copyright law, please notify the administrator. This site receives money through the Google AdSense program when users are directed to useful commercial sites. We do not encourage or condone clicking on the displayed ads unless you have a legitimate interest in the advertisement.