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The role of anxiety in school achievement Farmer, Ruth Alfreda

Abstract

Matched groups of Grade VI pupils obtaining low, medium, and high scores on the Test Anxiety Scale for Children were compared on the basis of their performances on four school examinations to determine the extent and nature of the relationship between anxiety and school achievement. Analyses were made of the data pertaining to the performances of the boys and girls together, and of the boys and girls separately, on the four examinations, combined, and on each individual examination. Out of a total of 45 possible differences 6 were found to be statistically significant. Results for the girls were negative throughout but medium-anxious boys were found to do less well than their low- and high-anxious mates on two of the four examinations. Groups of boys and girls together showed differences similar to the boys. Statistically significant differences pointed to a “U" type curvilinear relationship between anxiety and performance. An analysis was also made of the power of each of the items on the anxiety scale to discriminate between high- and low-achievers. Twenty-nine of the total of 30 test items failed to discriminate in a statistically significant way between high- and low-achievers. Findings suggest limitations to the use of individual anxiety scores for interpretive or predictive purposes without further investigation. Revisions of a procedural nature were suggested as possible means of increasing the likelihood of obtaining more meaningful results from an investigation into the effects of anxiety on performance.

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