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Georgia Journal of Science

Article Title

HOW DO WE COPE?: AN EXAMINATION OF AFRICAN AMERICAN COLLEGE STUDENTS STRESSORS AND COPING STRATEGIES ON ACADEMIC OUTCOMES **

Abstract

Background: Previous research demonstrates a connection between trauma and its effects on the African American community (Wiersma et. al., 2009). The African American community experiences of historical and personal trauma are prevalent (Thompson & Massat, 2005); however, there is scant research examining potential coping strategies utilized when facing this looming feat. Negative coping strategies include self-distraction, self-blame and substance use, while positive coping strategies include the use of emotional support, positive reframing, and venting (Carver, 1997). This exploratory study is interested in examining the relationship between students perceived levels of stress and the relationship to the types of coping strategies HBCU students participate in. In addition, the relationship between students’ stress levels, coping strategies and students grade-point average (GPA) will be assessed. Methods: Participants will be asked to complete a survey consisting of the Perceived Stress Scale, which is designed to measure individual differences in stress (Cohen, 1994), while the Brief COPE scale intends to measure strategies used to cope in response to stressors (Carver, 1997), and demographic information. In addition, students will be asked to respond to an open ended prompt in order to further explore challenges students are encountering, the coping strategies employed as a response to stress, and the ways in which the institution could help alleviate or address these challenges. This approach will provide richness and depth that is missed when conducting quantitative studies. Implications: The results from this study can help to create new ways for advocating for positive environments and resilience interventions that will help people get through hardship. It can also draw awareness to the challenges that African American college students face, and provide a space for discussing those obstacles and how to resolve them.

Acknowledgements

HBCU STEM-US Center

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