Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Education and Human Services

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)




There is little doubt that anxiety is prevalent in today's world, and that students in school experience and are affected by anxiety. School is an evaluative experience and, as such, provides a wide variety of situations in which students are pressured to meet certain standards. Junior high school students, specifically, face an almost constant barrage of personal, social and academic situations new to them but with which they are expected to cope. Some students are able and willing to express their feelings of anxiety verbally to guidance counselors and others; some students exhibit these feelings physically in such activities as fidgeting, daydreaming or direct confrontation with the perceived threat. Still other students refuse to acknowledge their anxieties and either mentally or physically "drop out" of school. And, there are some students who appear to thrive on the daily challenges presented to them.

While there is much discussion, and even argument, relating to the purposes of education today, there does appear to be agreement that transmission of knowledge is and should be a major goal of education. Our school systems are judged on their ability to transmit knowledge primarily in terms of the academic achievement of their students. Academic achievement is primarily determined by the ability to perform, most often in the form of a written test. Many decisions affecting students are based on such performance; honors, program placements, career opportunities, college selection all reflect a student's achievement, as exhibited by his performance. Thus, if achievement is an important goal and if anxiety does exist, a further understanding of the relationship between these factors would be of value to educators in order to enhance the learning process.

In addition to their concern about performance levels, educators must also consider what kind of achievement is being measured. Marton and Saljo (1976) conclude that learning should be described in terms of content because there is great diversity in what is learned or how different students apprehend the Same information. Fransson (1976) states that for instructional purposes and for greater understanding of the learning process, a description of what a student learns is preferable to a description of how much he learns. In order to formulate such a description, one IDuSt consider the content of the learning. In addition, our society is becoming increasingly concerned with the school's ability to develop students who can comprehend and think in more than a literal fashion. Students who have been trained to acquire knowledge through analysis of data gathered from their environment appear to be better equipped to meet the challenges of our technological, rapidly-changing world than are those without this capability. One area of recent research in both psychology and education has focused on the relationship between anxiety and performance. The subjects in most of this research have been college students. Ninth grade students are quite different from college undergraduates in their developmental maturity. We need to know whether anxiety is as important a factor in performance with this age group as it is with older, more mature students.

The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between anxiety and the ability of ninth grade students to process information found in differing content forms. Specifically, two differing anxiety levels were induced with two randomly assigned groups of ninth grade students at Julington Creek School through external stress stimuli presented by the researcher. Academic achievement was measured by student performance in a written test designed to measure ability to acquire facts, concepts, and generalizations after reading a passage of material of general interest.