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PROJECT TOPIC ON-EFFECTS OF ACADEMIC ANXIETY ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABLITIES AND HOW STUDENTS CAN COPE WITH ANXIETY AT SCHOOL

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EFFECTS OF ACADEMIC ANXIETY ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES AND HOW STUDENTS CAN COPE WITH ANXIETY AT SCHOOL

 

Abstract

This research paper explores the relationship between anxiety, student achievement, self-concept, and self-efficacy for students with and without disabilities. Anxiety can have negative effects on all students. Students with anxiety problems tend to show lower levels of academic achievement, self-efficacy, and self-concept. Anxiety reduction requires the work of students, teachers, and parents. Mindfulness Meditation, metacognition, coping, teacher involvement, and test question order are anxiety reduction strategies explored. Problem based learning is a teaching method proven to increase students’ levels of positive metacognition. Ideas for further research involving anxiety and students with learning disabilities are explored.

EFFECTS OF ACADEMIC ANXIETY ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES AND HOW STUDENTS CAN COPE WITH ANXIETY AT SCHOOL

 

CHAPTER ONE

INTRODUCTION

All students are entitled to an education in a positive environment. Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) is part of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) that assures students with disabilities receive an appropriate and individualized education (U.S. Department of Education, 2004). FAPE also assures that students with disabilities participate in the general education classroom. Students with and without disabilities can suffer from anxiety when faced with certain academic tasks. It is important for teachers to be aware of the signs of anxiety, and what can be done to ease students’ anxiety.

1.1 Background of the Study

Anxiety is a normal reaction to certain situations. A small level of anxiety is normal, but severe anxiety can be a serious problem. Academic anxiety can become more detrimental over time. As a student’s academic performance suffers, the anxiety level related to certain academic tasks increases (Huberty, 2012). Most teachers will have students with social anxiety and/or academic anxiety. Social anxiety can also affect a student’s academic performance. If a student has social anxiety, the student might not be able to complete group tasks or might not feel comfortable asking for help in class. Social anxiety can go along with or even lead to academic anxiety. Teaching students self-regulation can reduce anxiety and increase academic performance (Ader & Erktin, 2010).

EFFECTS OF ACADEMIC ANXIETY ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES AND HOW STUDENTS CAN COPE WITH ANXIETY AT SCHOOL

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Many students suffer from anxiety when facing difficult academic tasks. Students with learning disabilities often face more anxiety than general education students (Nelson & Harwood, 2011). Different students respond differently to anxiety.

Teaching self-regulation in early childhood is important to reduce the development of school related anxiety at an early age (Zelazo & Lyons, 2012). Anxiety can have a negative effect on the information processing system. People with anxiety have difficulty storing and retrieving information (Nelson & Harwood, 2011). Some students are very difficult to formally or informally assess because of anxiety. Not all teachers understand the signs of anxiety and the effects on their students. If teachers can recognize the signs, they can help the students cope with academic anxiety. Because all students are different, understanding multiple methods for coping with anxiety can be beneficial for more students.

1.3 Theoretical Framework or Model

According to the Attribution theory, students need to feel in control over the outcome of an academic task. Students who feel more in control over the outcome will have more motivation to successfully complete that task (Lim, 2007). To feel in control, students need to understand why a certain outcome happens. For example, a student who never studies for a spelling test and fails each week might not understand the reason for the poor performance. If the student understands that studying is important for on the spelling tests, the student will be more motivated to study and do well on the test.

Causes of success or failure can be external or internal, stable or unstable, and controllable or uncontrollable. Internal reasons are something that the student did. Someone or something else controls external reasons. Stable causes are expected to occur again, and unstable causes are changeable. Controllable causes are something a student can change, but uncontrollable causes are believed to be unchangeable (Vockell, n.d.). Males tend to focus more on ability and other internal factors while females tend to focus on effort and external factors (McClure, Meyer, Garisch, Fischer, Weir, & Walkey, 2011).

Attribution Theory focuses on two types of goals, learning goals and performance goals. Students who have learning goals are students who want to learn more and work hard to succeed. Students who have learning goals can see failure as a motivator. For students with performance goals, failure is anti-motivation. Students are focused on performance and outcomes. Students do not want to try if failure is at all possible (Vockell, n.d).

The Attribution Theory suggests a relationship between students’ sense of control over the outcome of an academic task and motivation to succeed. Students can also develop self-handicapping (Vockell, n.d.). Students who self-handicap are convinced that success will not happen and will not do anything to try for success. Self-handicapping hampers motivation. The theory and the relationship with motivation and anxiety propose the following research questions.

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1.4 Research Questions

To what extent does anxiety effect students’ performance and experience in school?

What are some methods of reducing anxiety, and how effective are they for increasing students’ academic achievement?

EFFECTS OF ACADEMIC ANXIETY ON THE PERFORMANCE OF STUDENTS WITH AND WITHOUT LEARNING DISABILITIES AND HOW STUDENTS CAN COPE WITH ANXIETY AT SCHOOL

1.5 Definition of Terms

The following terms are found throughout the literature review. Some of the terms were not defined in the journal articles so the definitions are from the dictionary. Coping, mindfulness, and self-regulation are important to define because each is a strategy use to deal with academic anxiety. Helping students understand learning by using metacognition is an important part of teaching students to control their learning.

Coping is the different responses a person uses to get through a stressful situation (Ader & Erkin, 2010)

Metacognition is “the self-regulation of cognition” (Ader & Erkin, 2010. p 315).

Students using metacognition think about the learning process.

Mindfulness is a technique of being aware of your physical and mental states. Mindfulness is similar to keeping an on-going mental log of a person’s mental and physical activities (Zelazo & Lyons, 2012). Students using mindfulness are more likely to understand when they are experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety is defined as “a painful or apprehensive uneasiness of mind usually over an impending or anticipated ill” (Merriam-Webster, 2012). Students experiencing academic anxiety feel apprehensive over academic tasks. Students can feel anxiety related to every academic task. Some may only feel anxiety related to test taking or other specific tasks. Anxiety is not always negative. Some students can be motivated by anxiety.

Stress is how a person mentally and physically reacts to circumstances that are considered difficult or challenging (Beckner, 2004).

Self-regulation is “the self-control of thought, action, and emotion” (Zelazo & Lyons, 2012, p 154).

Summary

Social and academic anxiety can have a negative effect on a student’s academic performance. Teachers and parents can learn to recognize the signs of anxiety in students. If teachers and parents help students learn to control anxiety early on, more serious academic problems related to anxiety can be avoided.

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