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Addressing Student Stress

photo from UCB Learning Commons

photo from UCB Learning Commons

Throughout the last few weeks I have noticed my students become increasingly stressed. This stress seems to come from a variety of sources: adjusting to living independently, mid-terms/course work, difficulties with time management, lack of sleep, and financial issues. I believe, as educators, it is important to help students cope with stress. We can do this by making sure students are aware of their resources on campus and helping them become more mindful in the way they address coursework.

Campus Resources

Students sometimes struggle to manage the responsibilities that come with being enrolled in college or living on their own. Luckily, there are many resources on campus to help students tackle the stress of transitioning into the university community; I listed a few that I refer to students to frequently below.

 University Counseling Services

  • Offers affordable counseling to currently enrolled DePaul students.
  • Assists students in defining and accomplishing personal and academic goals.

 Center for Students with Disabilities

  • Provides support for DePaul students with documented disabilities.
  • Assists students with academic accommodations, books on tape, readers, adaptive equipment and physical access.
  • Available to faculty for assistance with classroom accommodations for students with disabilities.

 Dean of Students Office

  • Advocates for students who are having difficulty resolving problems or making the right connections with faculty, staff, and university processes and services.
  • Assists students who have complaints or questions about harassment, discrimination, or assault and outlines options for university responses to such incidents.

 DePaul Central

  • Provides one-stop services to help students manage registration, academic planning, financial aid and payment processes at DePaul

 Financial Fitness Program

  • Students can meet one-on-one with a trained advisor who can help them with basic money matters, personal financial planning, problem solving, and advice

You can also view a more comprehensive list of student services on Blue Star and the Teaching Commons website.

Classroom Activities

In-class reflection is also an important way to help students cope with stress. It is especially helpful for students to reflect on how they are preparing for class assignments and tests. This can allow them to identify ways to be more productive and efficient in their studies. Additionally, the use of reflection activities allows the instructor to identify potential ways to improve his or her teaching. I outlined two reflection activities below.

 Post Quiz Survey

The post exam survey is a self-test for students to quickly assess how successfully they studied for a quiz. After students complete the survey, the instructor can lead a discussion to identify trends and ways to properly prepare for quizzes or exams. Possible true/false questions to include in the survey are:

  • I feel like I did well on the quiz.
  • I studied as much as I could for the quiz.
  • The way I studied was productive.
  • I feel like I could have done better on the quiz if I studied longer.
  • I feel like I could have done better on the quiz if I studied in a different way.
  • I gave my best effort in completing practice problems and the project.
  • I always attend and pay attention in class.

 Final Draft Cover Letter

The final draft cover letter, an assignment Matthew Pearson from the University Center for Writing-based Learning created, prompts students reflect on their writing process – what was done well, what could be improved. Typically, students will write the letter and submit it with their final draft of the paper. Prompts for this assignment could include:

  • How did you go about starting to draft your paper? What, if anything, was difficult about your first draft?
  • What aspects of your first draft did you see as strong? What aspects of your first draft were weaker, in your judgment?
  • What feedback did you receive from those who edited your draft? What feedback did you agree with? What feedback did you find confusing or off-base? What did you discuss with editors? Did that conversation influence your writing process?
  • How did you approach your revision? What did you elaborate on? What did you remove or streamline?
  • With more time, what other revisions would you make?
  • What do you think of the final draft of your paper? Are you happy with it? What did you learn as you worked on it? What did you think of the process of drafting, conferencing, and revising?

If you are interested in learning more about ways to incorporate reflection into your course check out Jen O’Brien’s blog post titled “The What, Why, and How of Metacognitive Teaching.”


Lastly, I must mention that getting an appropriate amount of sleep each night can help students overcome stress and perform well in the classroom. A blog post featured on the New York Times website discusses the relationship between sleep and learning. It also offers strategies for what kind of sleep you should get based on what you need to tackle the next day. For example, those who are taking a technical exam should strive for REM (rapid eye movement) rich sleep. This can be achieved by staying up a little past your normal bed time and sleeping in slightly in the morning.

What are some ways you have addressed student stress in your classroom? Are there any other resources you think DePaul students should be utilizing?



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