Student Perceptions of Instructor Behaviors that Impact Stress

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1 Scopus citations


Introduction to Psychology is a popular class for college students. Many students report high levels of stress and mental health problems, and instructors may be able to help their students by designing the course with student well-being in mind. Instructors have limited research to draw on to achieve this goal. The purpose of this study was to examine students’ perceptions of what instructional practices increased and decreased their stress within a large section of Introductory Psychology. Students (N = 1,086) reported on a questionnaire if 15 instructional practices increased, decreased, or had no impact on their stress and/or anxiety. This questionnaire was developed in part based on responses to two open-ended survey questions from students (N = 952) who took the class a previous semester. Results suggested that three-fourths of the students found six strategies to be stress reducing. These included allowing the student to select an exam time, making course materials available throughout the semester, generating extra credit opportunities, allowing for a makeup exam day, and providing practice exams that closely align with actual exams. These data suggest that students perceive benefits from instructional practices that increase their sense of control, agency, and predictability. Introductory Psychology instructors can demonstrate real-life applications of Psychology by collecting data from students and implementing practices that benefit them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)243-252
Number of pages10
JournalScholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021. American Psychological Association


  • College students
  • Faculty behavior
  • Instructional practices
  • Mental health
  • Stress


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