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Managing anxiety - Intervention strategies for schools

Gregor, Paula Astrid; (2003) Managing anxiety - Intervention strategies for schools. Doctoral thesis (D.Ed.Psy.), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This study was a school-based initiative, evaluating intervention strategies to help secondary pupils with the self-management of examination anxiety. The study compared the effects of a range of approaches on participants' performance in the GCSE examinations and on self-reported examination anxiety. A total of 105 Year 11 pupils were randomly assigned to one of three experimental conditions and one attention control condition. Five intervention sessions were delivered jointly by a teacher and an educational psychologist to each of three experimental groups (whole Year 11 Forms). The attention control group continued their standard PSHE lessons. The sessions were blended into the normal school timetable. The three experimental conditions were Group 1 - mixed presentation: relaxation and cognitive behavioural approaches (CBT), Group 2 - relaxation only, Group 3 - attention control group, and Group 4 - cognitive behavioural approaches only. The study used multi-method assessment measures, triangulating cognitive (self-report) measures, behavioural ratings by teachers and performance measures (examination results). These were complemented by qualitative measures. The participants and their teachers completed pre and post measures. Achieved results in the participants' GCSE examinations were compared with estimated results. The data suggest that cognitive-behavioural approaches, either combined with relaxation strategies or as a single intervention, are effective in helping secondary pupils manage their examination anxiety and in improving their examination performance. These results were subject specific. The mixed group achieved a statistically significantly greater improvement in Maths and Science grades than the other three groups. The control group improved most in English Literature. All three groups did better than the control group in most of the exam subjects. Findings suggest an interaction between pre-anxiety level and performance, which invites the conclusion that it is not minimal, but optimal examination anxiety which leads to optimal examination performance. It is also argued that results point to the fact that school based programmes using mixed interventions could be most effective in the prevention of excessive examination anxiety. The findings of the study will be shared with schools who took part, to inform their policy and pastoral support and to be incorporated into their classroom curriculum. These findings will also be discussed with LEA colleagues, as county-wide implication will need to be considered. It is hoped that findings of the study can be generalised to other forms of evaluative or performance anxiety in a school setting, such as for instance, for competitive sports, school plays or public speaking.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: D.Ed.Psy.
Title: Managing anxiety - Intervention strategies for schools
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
Keywords: Education; Anxiety
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10099750
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