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ERIC Number: EJ1147207
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-2368-4526
One Week, Many Ripples: Measuring the Impacts of the Fall Reading Week on Student Stress
Poole, Heather; Khan, Ayesha; Agnew, Michael
Collected Essays on Learning and Teaching, v10 p163-171 2017
More and more Canadian post-secondary institutions are introducing a fall break into their term calendars. In 2015, a full week fall break was introduced at our university in order to enhance academic performance and improve mental health amongst students. Our interdisciplinary team surveyed undergraduate students at our university about their experience of the fall break, collected standardized measures of experienced stressors and perceptions of stress before and after the break, and hosted several focus groups to develop a detailed narrative of students' experience. Stress can also be assessed through non-invasive hormone measures. We collected saliva samples to profile metabolic hormones, cortisol, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), from first-year male engineering students in order to document possible changes in their stress levels before and after the week-long break. This group was compared to male engineering students at a similar university that does not hold a fall break. Students exhibited a lower ratio of cortisol to DHEA after a fall break than those that did not experience a break. Our survey results indicate that the majority of students thought the fall break was a positive experience. However, self-reports of stress show a more complex picture, with many students reporting increased perceived stress after the break. Additionally, a portion of students reported that the fall break was a negative experience. To the best of our knowledge, our study is the first of its kind to use a mixed-methods approach to examine the impacts of a fall break.
Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 1280 Main Street West, Mills Library Room 504, Hamilton, Ontario L8S 4L6, Canada. Tel: 905-525-9140; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A