Is the very idea of exam giving you stress and negative moods? Take heart, a new study suggests that the occasional bout of bad feelings can actually improve a student’s academic performance.
The findings showed that students who were mostly happy during their four years of university but who also experienced occasional negative moods had the highest grade per annum (GPA) at the time of graduation.
In contrast, students who experienced high levels of negative moods and low levels of positive moods often ended up with the lowest GPAs — a pattern consistent with depressive disorders.
“Students often report feeling overwhelmed and experiencing high levels of anxiety and depressive symptoms. The study shows that we need to teach them strategies to both manage negative emotions and stress in productive ways and to maintain positive emotional experiences,” said Erin Barker, Professor at Concordia University in Quebec, Canada.
For the study, Barker and her team worked with 187 first-year university students. They looked at the students’ response patterns to better understand how experiences of positive and negative emotions occurred over time.
The study also demonstrated that both negative and positive emotions play a role in our successes.
“We often think that feeling bad is bad for us. But if you’re generally a happy person, negative emotions can be motivating. They can signal to you that there is a challenge that you need to face. Happy people usually have coping resources and support that they draw on to meet that challenge,” Barker said.