Frequency of Exercise: This variable refers to how often college students engage in physical exercise to measure their physical activity levels. The operational definition would involve categorizing exercise frequency, such as “daily,” “3-4 times a week,” “1-2 times a week,” or “rarely/never.”
Level of Stress: This variable measures the psychological stress experienced by college students. The operational definition would involve using a validated stress assessment scale or questionnaire, such as the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), where students rate their stress levels based on a set of standardized questions.
For this research question, a correlational study would be the most appropriate research method. A correlational study allows for examining the relationship between two variables (exercise frequency and stress level) without manipulating any variables. In this case, the goal is to determine whether there is a statistical correlation or association between the two variables.
Why Correlational Study:
Ethical Considerations: Manipulating exercise frequency or inducing stress levels in college students for an experimental study could raise ethical concerns. A correlational study allows researchers to observe naturally occurring behaviors.
Practicality: Conducting an experimental study might be logistically challenging, as it would require controlling and monitoring students’ exercise habits and stress levels over an extended period. A correlational study can use existing data or surveys, making it more practical.
Exploratory Nature: This research question is exploratory in nature, seeking to establish whether a relationship exists between exercise frequency and stress levels. A correlational study provides the flexibility to explore this relationship without imposing experimental conditions.
Real-World Relevance: College students’ stress levels are of significant concern, and understanding the relationship with exercise frequency can have practical implications for student well-being and mental health support.
By conducting a correlational study, researchers can statistically analyze the data to determine whether there is a positive or negative correlation between exercise frequency and stress levels among college students, helping to inform strategies for stress management and well-being on campuses.