Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Human Development and Family Studies


Human Development and Family Studies


This research examined the levels of perceived stress for independent students who are parents with a comparison group of independent students who are not parents. The programs and services offered to adult learners at Iowa State University were evaluated. Role conflicts, support systems, support detractions, sources of stress, and sources of stress relief were explored for both groups. Participants completed the Graduate Student Inventory-Revised (GSI-R), a background questionnaire, a service assessment, and open-ended questions. Using independent samples t-tests, no significant differences in perceived levels of stress were found between the primary sample and the comparison group. Additional correlation analyses revealed that students who are parents are older, have higher monthly take home income, are married or single but cohabitating, and are enrolled in fewer credit hours. Females were more likely to experience monetary stress than males. As monetary stress increased, classroom attendance decreased. Students with more children had higher academic demands perceived stress. Single (unmarried, divorced, separated, or widowed) students had higher levels of environmental perceived stress. Working students and students receiving less help from ISU Orientation had greater levels of perceived stress trying to meet peers of their race/ethnicity on campus. Independent students with children and the comparison group of independent students differed in their use and the importance of specific services for students at ISU. However, most of those differences were related to services designed specifically for students with children. Students with children and the comparison group had both similar and different kinds of conflicts that arose amid their student role and other roles. The two groups identified similar support systems. For both groups, many of the same support systems were also identified as detractions. The two groups identified both similar and different sources of stress and the two groups relieve their stress in different ways. Significance of the study, limitations, and implications for future research are also presented.


Copyright Owner

Michelle Denise McFadden



OCLC Number


File Format


File Size

78 pages