Academic mental stressors in academic inclusive sports

PhD, Associate Professor V.V. Apokin1
Master's student N.R. Usaeva1
1Surgut State University, Surgut

Keywords: mental stressors, students with health impairments, inclusive education, psychological support, academic progress.

Introduction. Mental stressors on academic athletes with health impairments are rather specific. Stresses associated with academic workloads, strained interpersonal relations, future professional career related anxiety - all this may result in emotional imbalance, seclusion, lack of confidence and, hence, academic regresses [2]. 
Mental stressors affect the psychological readiness of students with health impairments for productive learning activity [3, 4]. Therefore, there is a need to design and implement such an educational system, in which such students would experience less mental stresses in the process of training, which, in turn, would provide psychological and pedagogical support to students with health impairments during their adaptation to educational university environment [1].
There is a contradiction that it is only academic workloads that are considered in working with students with health impairments, while mental stressors associated with university studies are not taken into account.
A high mental stress threshold prevents students with health impairments from qualitative mastering of the teaching material, interacting with the faculty staff and fellow students, so there is a need for correction to the level of optimal mental stressors.
Therefore, the problem with this research lies in the necessity to reduce the level of mental stresses on students with health impairments to the optimum one, which will increase the effectiveness and quality of the university learning process, as well as the students’ tolerance to severe academic environment.
Objective of the study was to provide sound theoretical and practical experimental grounds for and test a new mental stress control model to secure good academic progress of the students with health impairments within the inclusive academic education curricula.
Methods and structure of the study. The empirical part of the study was designed to test the new mental stress test and control set in application to the health-impaired students, including: "Emotional stability/ instability (neuroticism) scale" by H. Eysenck, mono-resistance rating test by N.P. Fetiskin (modification of E.P. Ilyin), Taylor’s "Student's manifest anxiety" scale (modification of E.P. Ilyin), Yu.Ya. Kiselev’s "Thermometer scale", diagnostics of a simple motor reaction and a complex choice reaction, diagnostics of a simple motor reaction, diagnostics of urgent adaptation of a choice reaction, Luscher’s test, Toulouse-Pieron test, "Tapping test" (modification of Yu.A. Tsagarelli) (using the "AC-9K" device), tremor diagnostics, the use of the Fitmate PRO Metabolic Assessment System tests to obtain the key metabolic process data, "The level of subjective control" questionnaire, "Life-meaning orientations" test according to D.A. Leontiev, "Need for communication" test, "Need for achievements" test, "Mental task" test.
The study was conducted at the premises of Surgut State University. Sampled for the study were the Surgut State University students, with the Experimental Group composed of 10 students with health impairments including 8 males and 2 females majoring in the academic Adaptive Physical Education discipline; with every student having a sport qualification in volleyball (n=5) or track/ field sports (n=5). The Reference Group was made of 24 students (12 males and 12 females) of two study groups majoring in the academic Physical Education for Health-Impaired People discipline. Most students had sport titles of Masters of Sport and Candidate Masters of Sport. The Reference (RG) and Experimental (EG) Group subjects were trained in the same groups, and, accordingly, the conditions of academic environment did not differ.
Results and discussion. The "Life-meaning orientations" test rates, along with the intensity of the meaningfulness of life on the whole, indicated that the students with health impairments had lower indices as opposed to the healthy males and females.
The "Need for achievements" and "Need for communication" test rates in the EG and RG showed an insignificant difference between the males and females, with the health-impaired males being in a higher need for communication as compared to their healthy peers.
The need for success was higher in the group of healthy males and females, while the females with health impairments had a tendency to avoid failure. There was a positive correlation between the need for achievements and Self locus of control (r=0.61, at p<0.05). The students with health impairments were found to have a close significant correlation with the overall internality (r=0.65, at p<0.05) and health internality rates (health and health problems on the "internality" scale).
In "The Level of subjective control" test, the students with health impairments demonstrated lower rates on all scales compared with their healthy peers. The health-impaired academic athletes were characterized by an external type of control. Externals as individuals being more exposed to high-anxiety conditions, intra-psychical conflicts, lower self-image integration rates and destructive/ defensive behavioral models are subjectively more inclined to discreet behavioral-control methods.
There is a need to organize psychological support for the academic athletes with health impairments during their university studies.
The comparative analysis of the results demonstrated by the EG and RG subjects revealed that the changes were more pronounced in the academic progress conditions rather than in the background. When assessing the psychomotor functions of the academic athletes with health impairments, the changes in the intensity and orientation of self-regulation of psychomotor functions in terms of speed, accuracy, stability and activation were deemed as informative indicators [5].
It was found that the males and females with health impairments had higher simple motor reaction rates as opposed to the healthy academic athletes (p<0.05). We registered lower rates of motor reaction and its urgent adaptation in the health-impaired females (p<0.01). In the "Tremor" test, both males and females with health impairments demonstrated significantly (p<0.05) higher values in terms of the number of touches of the horizontal and vertical slots. In the Toulouse-Pieron test, the health-impaired males and females showed higher values of the test execution speed as compared to their healthy peers (p<0.05). The Luscher’s test showed a higher deviation from the autogenic level and higher values of the vegetative coefficient in both males and females with health impairments (p<0.05).
The findings indicated that individual and group differences were detected in the manifestation of emotional tension under conditions of the examination sessions.
Under the influence of mental stressors, the response rate and the speed of motor actions improved owing to the deterioration of quality of the psychomotor functions.
When assessing the psychomotor functions of the health-impaired students during university studies, and given the peculiarities of the effects of emotional tension, it is necessary to conduct psychological control based on an integrated approach [5].
Informational and operational actions affect energy exchange and functioning of a number of indicators. The academic athletes with health impairments were characterized by a significantly higher metabolic cost as opposed to the healthy students (p<0.05). We observed sympathicotonia and increased activity of the respiratory and circulatory systems during the examination session. Adaptation to mental stressors in terms of university studies was more intense in the female students. In the males, the vegetative support of activity was less effective than in the tested females.
In terms of the psychodiagnostic indicators in the "Mental Task" test, the healthy students turned out to be more productive than the health-impaired students. We detected sympathicotonia and inefficiency of the cardiovascular system functioning before and after the psychodiagnostic tests. At the end of the psychodiagnostic test, we observed increased fatigue and exhaustion of the students’ energy reserves. Adaptation to mental stresses in the males with health impairments was more intense against the background of increasing sympathotonia and weakening of the vegetative support of activity. The health-impaired females had minor changes in the heart rate and oxygen consumption, as well as disturbances of the vegetative support of activity as opposed to the males [4].
The mean value of emotional stability ("anxiety") was equal to 15.5±1.97 points. Moreover, each health-impaired student was found to have more or less pronounced changes in terms of each of the informative indicators (anxiety, fear, lack of self-confidence), and only in terms of excess irritability no changes were observed.
When analyzing the level of emotional stability/ instability, only 17% of students with health impairments were found to be emotionally stable, while the vast majority of students (87%) were emotionally unstable. The mean value of emotional stability/ instability was 16.0±2.97 points, which corresponded to the emotionally unstable type.
The correlation analysis revealed an average negative correlation between emotional stability and mental stressors (ρ=-0.67 at p<0.05).
The data obtained during the study indicated the need to establish and implement a correctional program of development in the students with health impairments of emotional stability to mental stressors caused by university studies.
The purpose of the correctional program was to create conditions for the development in the students with hearing impairment of emotional stability to mental stressors during their university studies. For this purpose we developed the program objectives, determined the basic principles, forms of organization of work. The focal areas of the correctional program were as follows: psychodiagnostic, organizational and technological, knowledge-retrieval, psychoprophylactic.
The psychodiagnostic area of work included a research component aimed to identify the dynamics of changes in the students’ emotional stability to mental stressors in the process of training.
The knowledge-retrieval area included a motivational component based on the measures on providing the students with full-length information on the value of psychoemotional state and mastering of emotion regulation technique during their studies.
The aim of the psychoprophylactic area was that the students acquired the skills of self-regulation of their emotional state using different means and methods.
The organizational and technological area was the key one in our program, since its content implied the development and implementation of the correctional program methodology, which consisted in training students how to regulate their emotional states.
The correctional program involved the students with hearing impairment. The main part of the program was implemented during training. The academic athletes were familiar with the training process, so it was advisable to conduct corrective and developmental activities in their usual environment.
Conclusions. By reducing emotional instability, we can increase the level of emotional well-being of students. This would reduce the level of mental stresses to the optimum one, which, in turn, would improve their academic progress.
The psychological support of students with health impairments during their university studies will be effective provided that it is systematic, personality orientaed, focused on the formation of their personality and personality characterisrics that are significant for increasing the level of professional training, development of a positive and tolerant attitude, emotional stress tolerance, socio-psychological and professional competence.
The success of learning activity is largely determined by the impact of the informational and operational factors and lies in the perception of a specific situation, self-monitoring and self-assessment of own capabilities, states, actions; analysis and correction of the information received when forecasting and comparing it with previous/ subsequent situations and activity results significancy; as well as in choosing solutions and their implementation in specialized actions and operations based on the program.

References

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  2. Usaeva N.R., Apokin V.V., Yakovlev B.P. Razvitie emotsionalnoy ustoychivosti k psikhicheskoy nagruzke u studentov-sportsmenov s narusheniyami slukha v period obucheniya v vuze [Development of Emotional Stability to Mental Load in Student-Athletes with Hearing Impairment during University Studies]. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury, 2014, no. 11, pp. 87-89.
  3. Usaeva N.R. , Yakovlev B.P., Apokin V.V. Sravnitelny analiz lichnostnykh osobennostey studentov-sportsmenov s ogranichennymi vozmozhnostyami zdorovya i zdorovykh studentov v usloviyakh uchebnoy deyatelnosti [Personality traits of university athletes with impairments versus their healthy peers: comparative analysis]. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2016. no. 7. pp. 86-88.
  4. Yakovlev B.P., Usaeva N.R.,  Apokin V.V. Diagnosticheskie kriterii osobennostey psikhicheskoy nagruzki v usloviyakh uchebnoy deyatelnosti sportsmenov-studentov s OVZ i zdorovykh sportsmenov-studentov [Mental stress test rates in academic learning process for healthy sporting students versus their health-impaired peers]. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2017. no. 3. pp. 89-91.
  5. Yakovlev B.P., Usaeva N.R.,  Apokin V.V.  Sravnitelny analiz psikhomotornykh funktsiy studentov-sportsmenov s ogranichennymi vozmozhnostyami zdorovya i zdorovykh studentov na vliyanie psikhicheskoy nagruzki v usloviyakh uchebnoy deyatelnosti [Comparative effects of mental load impacts on sporting students with health impairment versus their healthy peers in academic process]. Teoriya i praktika fiz. kultury. 2016. no. 11. pp.  86-88.

Corresponding author: vv@mail.ru

Abstract
Rapidly expanding physical inactivity is reported the world over [15] and commonly known to be of detrimental effect to the academic health and progress rates [5]. This holds particularly true for the harsh climatic conditions of the Russian Yugra North with its intensive oil-and-gas production for the last 50 years. Mental stressors on the academic athletes with health limitations are rather specific and may manifest themselves in the strained interpersonal relations and anxiety (including the future professional career related ones) – that often result in the mental/ emotional imbalances, seclusion, lack of confidence and, hence, academic regresses and backlogs. Objective of the study was to provide sound theoretical and practical experimental grounds for and test a new mental stress control model to secure good academic progress of the students with health impairments within the inclusive academic education curricula. Empirical part of the study was designed to test the new mental stress test and control set in application to the health-impaired students. Sampled for the study were the SSU students, with the Experimental Group composed of 10 students with health impairments including 8 males and 2 females majoring in the academic Disabled Physical Education Service discipline; with every student having a sport qualification in volleyball (n=5) or track/ field sports (n=5). The Reference Group was composed of their group peers trained in the same academic environment. The study has worked out a definition for the mental stressors on the disabled students in the inclusive education system; offered the new mental control model for this academic group; and tested the model by the educational experiment including the efficient psychological, consulting, health correction service and mental progress tests.