Student's Stress: It's Real and Manageable

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Carol Smith


I have been a dental hygiene professor at a Community College from the last seven years as well as a 2001 alumna from the same dental hygiene program. The dental hygiene curriculum is demanding, and it can be overwhelming to manage the heavy work load. My goal as a teacher is to help the dental hygiene students find their own way to reduce their stressful thoughts and behaviors as a result of the overwhelming amount of work while learning. There are different levels of stress that the dental hygiene college students must learn to manage in order to think critically and creatively and make better decisions. I began thinking about my synthesis with the materials that I have gathered throughout my educational journey in the Critical and Creative Thinking Program as well as my students’ experiences and my past experiences as a dental hygiene student. The initial goal was to try to reduce students’ stress through humor, which evolved into researching more about how our body functions and malfunctions under stress. While researching the negative effects of stress, I discovered more interesting material about how one can reframe thinking patterns and become self aware of our own emotional intelligence to reduce our own stress or eliminate it completely. I thought about how much of this information was applicable and interesting ways students can benefit if they knew how, when, where and why they should utilize these tools to reduce the stress that may hinder their thinking. So, I decided to create an extensive 6-part stress reduction workshop for the students that may support and guide the students to effectively manage their anxiety in order to think clearly. It is significant for students to know when to use their resources to think rationally even when in the face of stressful events. The initial step in the development, implementation and dissemination of stress reduction techniques has been a work in progress. The toolkit consists of teaching students about the psychological and physiological effects of stress, the negative behaviors associated with chronic stress, the positive effects of utilizing stress reduction strategies and problem-solving techniques to ultimately improve overall health and enhance the students’ learning outcomes. The toolkit consists of the strategies that combine physical and mental aspects: humor, exercise (including yoga and meditation), positive thinking, clear goal setting, attention to nutrition, and sleeping behaviors to reduce or eliminate stress. Timely interventions, observations and ongoing analysis will be included in my future steps.


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