Understanding Stress in the Education of Designers: A Study Exploring Learning Pressures for Design Students


  • Andrea Quam Iowa State University
  • Nora Ladjahasan Iowa State University
  • Sung Kang Iowa State University
  • Carol Faber Iowa State University


higher education, learning pressures, design education, design student stress, undergraduate students


Learning pressures can influence the academic performance and psychological well-being of college students. Research has found each student experiences pressure in the learning process, which can negatively impact their learning outcomes if not properly addressed.

This study examines learning pressures experienced by undergraduate design students at a Midwestern University in the United States. Students majoring in studio arts, architecture, graphic design, interior design, industrial design, and landscape architecture were surveyed. The survey contained 17 questions that measured stress and pressures caused by peer pressure, self-expectation, time and financial pressures, and future career pressures on a Likert scale. Eight inquiries identified demographic information for additional evaluation and consideration. Investigators found students felt the most learning pressure when not satisfied with their work, specifically when perceiving they were not achieving their own goals. Indicators point to self-esteem as a key component of learning pressures. This paper also shows corelationships to learning pressure based on demographic information. Insights gained from this research will help instructors create an empathetic and supportive classroom for students.