How students cope with stress and difficult life situations, an international research project starts at TPU

Researchers from Tomsk Polytechnic University and the University of Cagliari (Italy) started to study coping strategies in the student environment. They are going to find out how students cope with stress and difficult life situations. Data obtained in Tomsk will be compared with study results earlier obtained in European countries. The researchers hope that this information will help in developing a system for adapting students and their psychological support. 

Photo: Associate Professor Cristina Cabras

Scholars from the University of Cagliari Associate Professor Cristina Cabras and Associate Professor Marina Mondo came to Tomsk. Here they conduct a research seminar with TPU colleagues and discuss a plan for joint research. 

Cristina Cabras says:

‘Coping strategies can be both negative and positive. A negative one is, for example, when you are under stress for a long time, you constantly live negative emotions, think about it, discuss it with everyone but do not solve a problem. A positive strategy assumes that you are focused on resolving the situation without unnecessary emotions.

The choice of a strategy depends on your previous life experience, on the behavioral pattern that you adopted in your family and your inner circle. These strategies are mainly formed in the first five to seven years of life.’

Photo: Italian and Tomsk researchers at the joint seminar

According to the researchers, the study of coping strategies is ultimately aimed at improving the quality of human life.

The Italian researcher says:

‘The study of strategies helps to see how many opportunities we have to cope with negative situations. You start to understand how to build personal positive relationships, better adapt to life and new situations. You start to love changes. There are many changes and challenges in modern life. In this regard, students are certainly at risk. Because in the process of learning they experience a lot of transitional moments: entering the university, taking exams, starting their career, and so on. All the moments are associated with a huge amount of stress. We would like our study to help them adapt better.’

Italian researchers have already compared the coping strategies of students in Italy, Spain, Germany. Now they are going to get more information about Russian students.

‘To our surprise, we found no significant differences between the behavior strategies of European students. We want to see data on Russian students to put it into perspective,’ says Cristina Cabras.

According to the study supervisor in TPU, Professor of the Division of Social Sciences and Humanities Natalia Lukaynova, the project’s participants plan to conduct a large-scale survey among TPU students to collect primary information on the level of stress in Tomsk students.

‘Modern students are not ready to deal with life difficulties. And even some seemingly minor troubles can cause serious stress. Therefore, we want to understand how to help students to cope with stress, how to adapt to university life, and we will compare our outcomes with those obtained by our colleagues abroad. At the first stage, we will use a questionnaire developed by our Italian colleagues that helps to estimate the level of emotional readiness of students to study at university. First, we will survey first-year students and then the same group will be surveyed routinely several times. We will monitor the changes, at what stages students experience the greatest difficulties, at what stages the least, and possible reasons for it,’ says Professor Natalia Lukyanova.