The relationship between childhood stress and classroom behavior

Terri Allen Gaier, University of Pennsylvania


Much attention in both popular and professional literature has focused on the topic of stress. However, researchers exploring both the sources and potential harmful effects of stressors have focused primarily on adults. Only recently have researchers acknowledged that children are affected not only by the stressful events that occur to the significant adults in their lives, but may also be affected by a host of variables that are directly stressful to children. This study examined the interrelationship of student reports of stress and teacher reports of classroom behavior. More specifically, the study addressed the relationship between specific categories of stress and particular syndromes of behavior pathology. However, before these relationships were explored, the psychometric properties of a student self-report scale were evaluated. A sample of 428 students completed a self-report stress measure entitled Childrens' Own Perceptions and Experiences of Stressors (COPES) (Colton, 1985) with teachers completing Adjustment Scales for Children and Adolescents (ASCA) (McDermott, 1994) on a randomly selected subset of 263 students drawn from the original sample. Although previous research suggested a relationship between stress and behavior, only a modest association was demonstrated in this study. COPES factor, School Problems, was associated with attention problems, impulsivity, and oppositional defiant behaviors. However, canonical redundancy estimates revealed that the overlap between COPES factors and ASCA syndromes accounted only for a little over 5% of the variance.

Subject Area

Educational psychology|Psychotherapy|Behaviorial sciences

Recommended Citation

Gaier, Terri Allen, "The relationship between childhood stress and classroom behavior" (1997). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9800862.