Stress appraisals of school transition in early adolescence: Longitudinal trends and gender differences

Jing Mavis HE WU, Wan-chi WONG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


School transition has been viewed as a significant stressful event that may affect the mental health of schoolchildren. This study examined stress appraisals in relation to the transition from primary to secondary school in early adolescence through the lens of the cognitive-relational theory of stress, with the study foci on longitudinal trends and gender differences. A total of 608 10 to 15 year-old schoolchildren, divided into either the school-transition group (n = 208) or the non-transition groups (n = 400), completed a stress appraisal measure at three time points (i.e., pre-transition, transition, and post-transition) over a 9-month-period. Analyses of the longitudinal trends of stress appraisals suggest transitioning to secondary school is a stressful period for adolescents. The results further illustrate gender-linked changing patterns of stress appraisals: whereas both boys and girls appraised their school life as more stressful immediately after the transition to secondary school, five months after this transition, however, girls exhibited prolonged perceived stress but boys demonstrated a recovery. Specifically, gender differences in stress appraisals emerged at 12 to 13 years of age. This study illustrates interesting findings regarding the gender-linked immediate and long-term changes of stress appraisals. Such findings have implications for school-based preventions and interventions. Copyright © 2017 The Author(s). All Rights Reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)129-137
JournalJournal of Education and Human Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017


school transition
gender-specific factors
secondary school
mental health


He, W.-J. & Wong, W.-C. (2017). Stress appraisals of school transition in early adolescence: Longitudinal trends and gender differences. Journal of Education and Human Development, 6(1), 129-137. doi: 10.15640/jehd.v6n1a13.


  • School transition
  • Stress appraisal
  • Longitudinal trend
  • Gender difference
  • Adolescence