Critical appraisal

Critical appraisal

Part A - Critical Appraisal


A survey conducted in medical students of the largest university of Saudi Arabia revealed that the prevalence of stress is very high in students (Alyami, 2017). Stress is one of the factors that affect the academic performance of students. However, there are other factors also such as low self-esteem and low self-efficacy, that have a negative impact on students' s academic performances. Fraizer et al. (2019) used detailed research to understand the ways in which stress acts as an obstacle for academic performance. This study aims to conduct a critical appraisal of Fraizer's s research and to detect the correlation between stress and Grade Point Average (GPA). It also focuses on the detection of student groups who are at higher risks of poor academic performance. This paper is relevant as it discusses psychological and demographic variables affecting student's academic performance.


The research paper of  Fraizer, Gabriel, Merians, and Lust focuses on the impact of stress on the academic performance of undergraduate students. They collected the information of these students through online platforms, and their data included various student groups. For example, they collected the data from students of various races such as Asians, Africans, Americans, Native Hawaiians, and others. They included the academic performances of both males and females, heterosexuals, gays, and lesbians. The authors tried to include a variety of students to improve the creditability of their research. However, they only included the students of Minnesota and not of any other region, which acts as a limitation in this research. The authors also focused only on the undergraduate students and not on the postgraduate or students of other classes that narrow their research. Although no conflict of interest was reported for their work, but some of the possible conflicts could be limited participants, narrow approach, and inadequate methodology.

Research Questions & Justifications

The research aim of this study is to understand the negative impacts of stress on the academic performance of the students. This study focuses on analyzing the ways in which stress reduces the academic performance and the student groups who are at higher risks of poor academic performance due to stress. The research questions of this study are as follows:

  • Whether stress is one of the common factors that negatively impact academic performance?
  • What is the accuracy of the data collected by the students on the impact of stress on their academic performance?
  • What is the relationship between measured stress and GPA of students?
  • What are the psychological and demographic factors affecting academic performance and their relation with GPA?

The study on the negative impact of stress on academic performance is crucial because it helps in understanding the prevalence of stress on the students. This study can be helpful in detecting the methods that can be used to improve the academic performance of students by reducing stress; thus, the need for this study is justified.

Research Design:

As per Abutabenjeh and Jaradat (2018), the selection of an appropriate research design is one of the most crucial decisions of all researchers to conduct successful research. The researchers have used a meta-analysis method of the research design to conduct their research as they have collected data from various online sources related to the academic performance of students. According to (Kapoor 2016), the research design in which the researchers use already collected data of primary research for their study is termed as meta-analysis. It is generally based on randomized clinical trials and has a low level of biasness. The researches have reduced biasness from their study by using random data from multiple participants. They have involved participants of different races, sexuality, and age rather than involving only a particular group of students. In these ways, researchers have reduced the level of biasness from their research.

Research Methods

The researchers collected the academic performance reports of 8997 undergraduate students. They used a 10 point stress measuring scale to measure the level of stress prevailing in the participants for 30 days. They also measured the stress coping efficacy of the participants on the ten-point scale to estimate the number of students with reduced stress coping efficacy. As per Casidy (2016), resilience is also an essential factor that affects the prevalence of stress in people. The ability of people to succeed despite adversity by coming out of their stress is termed as resilience. The resilience scale is a device used to measure the resilience of the people. The researchers have used a six-point resilience scale to detect students with poor resilience. researchers tried to collect information related to all the factors that corelate stress with academic performance, but they used only point scale for their research and not any well-developed technology that could have given more accurate and trustable results.

Results & Limitations

Around 72 % of the participants were observed to have stress as the primary factor that negatively impacted their academic performance. However, around 40 % of the participants were the ones who had stress, but that did not impact their academic performance. It was also found after the research that around 22 % of the participants with poor academic performance was having sleep difficulty as a significant factor affecting their academic performance. 17 %  of the participants were observed that had mental issues as the primary cause of their poor performance. Stress was found to be the topmost impediment of academic performance, followed by sleep difficulties and mental problems.  It was also observed that the students with stress also had a low resilience and less social support of friends and family. Some of the limitations of this research are the usage of only cumulative GPA results, no appropriate knowledge on the direction of the correlation between stress and academic performance, and usage of one item measures for analyzing stress, resilience, and coping self-efficacy.

Part B - Enablers and Barriers

Fraizer et al. (2019) concluded that stress acts as the topmost factor leading to the poor academic performance of the University students. This is an enabler that can be used by college students to understand the reasons for their poor academic performance. Although a high level of stress generally leads to poor academic performance but a low or optimal stress level is beneficial for improving academic performance. As per et al. (Kassymova et al., 2018), stress management techniques can help the students to relieve their stress and to improve academic performance. Some of the commonly used stress management methods are relaxation, meditation, deep breathing, and social interaction. These methods reduce the level of stress in the students, which eventually improves their concentration and academic performance. Another finding of Fraizer's research was that stress is related to low resilience, low social support, and low self-efficacy as all these factors increase the stress level in the students. Thus, improvement of all these factors is essential in reducing stress, which leads to the improvement of academic performance. However, there are specific barriers to this research that affect the successful adoption of its findings. The research conducted by Fraizer is only based on the University students of Minnesota and not of multiple universities or colleges, and this decreases the credibility of the research findings. Moreover, the researchers have only used point scales to measure the level of stress in the students and GPA of the current semester to detect their academic performance.  There are chances that the current level of stress may have negative impacts on the academic performance of previous years. This also acts as a barrier to the successful adoption of the research findings and to implement in the other researches.


This paper concludes that the majority of the students having poor academic performance suffer from stress, low social support, and low resilience. The second most common factor that affects the student's academic performance is poor sleep, followed by mental ailments. However, the stress level in the students can be reduced by specific stress-management techniques such as relaxation and medication. Social support can also improve their stress level and academic performance. This paper also reveals that students with poor academic performance have a high level of stress than students with good academic performance. Although the researchers involved participants of different ages, sexuality, and race, but the findings are not completely acceptable because the research includes the students of only a specific region, Minnesota.  Thus, this paper has both strengths and weaknesses, and a detailed study must be conducted to detect the student groups who are at higher risk of stress.





Abutabenjeh and Jaradat (2018). Clarification of research design, research methods, and research methodology: A guide for public administration researchers and practitioners. Teaching Public Administration,36 (3), 237-258. doi:

Alyami, M., Melyani, Z., Johani, A. A., Ullah, E., Alyami, H., Sundram, F., Hill, A. & Henning, M. (2017).The impact of self-esteem, academic self-efficacy and perceived stress on academic performance: A cross-sectional study of Saudi psychology students. European Journal of Educational Sciences, 4(3), 52-61. doi: 10.19044/ejes.v4no3a5

Cassidy, S. (2016). The Academic Resilience Scale (ARS-30): A new multidimensional construct measure. Front. Psychol., 7(18), n.d. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2016.01787

Frazier, P., Gabriel, A., Merians, A., & Lust, K. (2019) Understanding stress as an impediment to academic performance. Journal of American College Health, 67(6), 562-570. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2018.1499649

Kapoor, C. M. (2016). Types of studies and research design. Indian Journal of Anesthesia, 60(9), 626-630. doi: 0.4103/0019-5049.190616

Kassymova, K. G., Aigerim, N. K., Ospan, S., S. & Schachl, H. (2018).Stress management techniques for students. Atlantis Press, 98(n.d.),  47-57. doi: 10.2991/ictppfms-18.2018.10

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