Effects of four-day and five-day academic weeks on stress and depression levels in gifted secondary students
Howe, Isabelle Hamilton
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The twentieth century has been called the Age of Anxiety, an age of alarming increases in health problems related to tensions, anxiety, depression, burnout, a Century of Stress. Evidence accumulates regarding the problems of the individual's coping with life in this most complex society of today. Researchers feel that stress and stress-related problems have become more pervasive in the lives of all individuals today. Educators and students are among those experiencing increased feelings of stress. Depression has been shown to be closely related to increased stress levels. In addition, the kind of school secondary students attend appears to influence the students' goals and outlook. Compressed workweeks have been tried for several years. A number of benefits seem to result both to the employers and employees, benefits such as reduced absenteeism and tardiness, higher productivity, and higher morale. Not all gifted and high ability students are breezing through high school with great success academically and socioemotionally and various proposals have been made to solve this problem, among which are alternative forms of class scheduling. This study investigated the stress and depression levels experienced by gifted and high ability secondary students attending a compressed academic week (four-day) program and those attending a traditional academic week (five-day) program in a single large metropolitan school district. Three groups of lOth-grade honors English classes, one from a five-day academic week and two from a four-day academic week, were used as subjects; each group consisted of 31, 32, and 38 subjects, respectively. Data was collected from permanent school records and from two test instruments. The Adolescent Life Change Event Questionnaire and the Depression Adjective Check Lists. To determine whether differences in stress and depression levels exist among these three groups, two group discriminant function analysis was used on each combination of the three groups. The results produced significant differences in perceived levels of stress related to school events between the two groups attending the compressed week and the group attending the traditional week. No significant differences in perceived depression and overall stress levels were found.