Printer Friendly

Effects of Systematic Desensitisation (SD) therapy on the reduction of test anxiety among adolescents in Nigerian schools.

This study investigated the effect of Systematic Desensitisation (SD) therapy on the reduction of test anxiety on some identified test anxious students. In addition, three secondary independent variables were studied along. These were entry test anxiety level, sex, and locus of control. A 2 x 2 x 2 way factorial design was employed. SD was found effective in the reduction of test anxiety of the students who were test anxious F-ratio = 9.261 with df (1,74). Entry test anxiety level of subjects was found to be significant on the level of reduction of test anxiety students F = 27.458 with df (1,74). Sex had no significant effect on the reduction of test anxiety of students F = 0.079 with df of (1, 74) and p > 0.05. There was no significant interaction effect of therapy and secondary independent variables. However, there was a significant interaction effect of entry test anxiety level and therapy at the end of treatment. Since SD has been found to be effective in the reduction of test anxiety among adolescents in Nigerian schools; it is recommended that this therapy be used in the treatment of test anxiety. It should be noted that before the treatment of test anxiety, the entry test anxiety level of subjects must be considered so as to set a baseline for the therapy.

**********

In recent times, stakeholders are worried about the falling standard of education in Nigeria. The media have equally raised alarm about examination malpractices as well as other educational ills in the nation's schools. Comments and seminars have equally been taken on this issue. The pros and cons of these educational vices have been analysed in time past and are still being analysed today. While most people tend to focus attention on the educational system itself, some blame it on the teachers and the teaching methods, while others still blame it on the inability of the students to read and comprehend what have been taught (Adedipe, 1984; Okoye, 1986; and Amameze, 1992).

In addition, there could be the problem of emotional maladjustment, which seems to be plaguing the adolescents as a result of the sensitivity in the developmental stage. There is the inherent fear and anxiety resulting from high expectations from parents, peer group identification problems, paper qualification expectations, and adjustment in terms of sexual role. In order to meet up with these expectations, these adolescents could be caught in the grip of fears and anxieties. These situations, when applied to testing, may not make for high academic performance. For as long as the classroom situation does not provide for the emotionally maladjusted adolescent, classroom activities such as assignments, projects, class works and tests may not be done properly. Studies have pointed to the fact that lessons are taught with less concern for the emotionally maladjusted, leaving no room for improvement on their situations (Egbochuku, 1998). Lack of concern could result in frustration, which may lead to fear and anxiety. These adolescents, while still groping in the grip of fear and anxiety, could find themselves in the test and/or examination halls where they are expected to impress their teachers and parents in particular their worth academically. Performance under such conditions could be impaired.

Fear and anxiety are emotional problems, which if not attended to could be carried over to examination situation and researches have shown that this could result in neurotic difficulties (Adeola, 1987). Fear and anxiety, in most cases, result in frustration and this is capable of affecting the totality of the individual as well as his/her personality. It has also been noticed that most adolescents who are plagued by this social vice, may not have been exposed to appropriate counselling therapies. This is due to the fact that most schools do not employ the service of a guidance counsellor with the appropriate training and skills to manage such social vices. Numerous counselling therapies that enhance adaptive behaviour abound in the field of psychology. These therapies are derived from psychological theories, and are geared toward the elimination of maladaptive behaviours such as fear, anxiety, neurosis, insecurity and depression among others.

Systematic Desensitisation (SD) is a therapy that has been used with recorded successes among adolescents (Ellis, 1977; Kraft, 1992; Egbochuku, 1998). This is a behaviour modification therapy that involves the use of classical conditioning methods in relaxing an individual who is anxious. It is a kind of counter conditioning whereby an established habit can be weakened or off-set by learning something else. The goal is to get the feeling of relaxation to dominate over the feeling of fear and anxiety for certain critical situations in a person's life. Could it be effective in the reduction of test anxiety?

Sex has been found to affect test anxiety significantly (Martins, 1974; Makinde, 2000). Since this study looked at effect of the aforementioned therapies in co-educational schools, it is important that the issue of sex is considered along side so as to ascertain if treatment effect observed is as a result of gender interference i.e. sex by treatment interaction. The establishment of a baseline before treatment is of paramount importance in behaviour modification (Akinboye, 1992). This gives direction to the study and helps the researchers in ascertaining if treatment is effective or not. The entry test anxiety level of subjects must therefore be considered. This will help in the establishment of the baseline for this study and also show if it has any effect on the treatment and final test anxiety level of subjects. However, it is yet to be established whether the changes observed from treatment with the aforementioned therapies are due to other underlying factors such as entry test anxiety level, or sex that can reduce test anxiety among students. Thus, it is important that the interaction of factors such as entry test anxiety level, and sex with treatment be explored empirically.

The focus of this study was therefore two-fold: Firstly, it determined the effect of Systematic Desensitisation (SD) on the reduction of test anxiety of identified adolescents in Nigerian secondary schools that were experiencing test anxiety. Secondly, it established the relationship between the systematic desensitisation and sex. To guide the study, the following research hypotheses were formulated and tested.

Hypotheses

1) There is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups with moderate and high entry anxiety level at the end of treatment.

2) There is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups subjected to SD therapy and Control after treatment.

3) There is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of male and female subjects after treatment.

Methodology

This study was quasi experimental in nature. Three independent variables were involved namely, treatment (2 types), entry test anxiety level (2 levels), and Sex (2 levels). The independent variable of primary interest is the Systematic Desensitisation (SD). Entry test anxiety level and sex were used as moderator variables. Specifically, scores from entry test anxiety level were used as block variables. Total scores from pre-test of the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) were used to block subjects into three groups, namely, group with low entry test anxiety level, moderate entry test anxiety level and those with high entry test anxiety level. However, research has shown that some element of anxiety is required for optimal performance by organisms (Campus Blues, 2003). This is the reason why this research did not consider those with low-test anxiety level. Also the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) specified that subjects whose score falls below 34.37 and 34.77 norm score for Nigerian sample should be regarded as not having problems with test anxiety for males and females respectively. Subjects who scored above the aforementioned score were then divided into two (2) groups of moderate entry test anxiety level and high entry test anxiety level with 34.48 and 34.78 to 49.99 as moderate and 50.00 and above as high. Of the remaining 2 independent variables, treatment was a manipulable variable with 2 types, which were Systematic Desensitisation (SD) and control while sex was used as a selection variable. Selection in the sense that subjects was selected by sex (male and female). Only one dependent variable, test anxiety level at the end of treatment was used in the study. The dependent variable has two (2) components: worry and emotionality, but the study employed the total score, meaning that the dependent variable was used as a univariate.

The population of the study comprised all secondary school students in Lagos (South West area of Nigeria). Only co-educational senior secondary schools were used. The reason for this was to enable the researchers decipher between responses of males and females as regards test anxiety and to ascertain their interactive effect on treatment. The stratified random sampling technique was used for the initial selection of schools from the pool. three schools were randomly selected. The stratified random sampling was also used for the selection of the subjects into their various strata namely, entry test anxiety level (moderate and high), sex (males and females) A selection test, the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) was used in the determination of the initial selection.

Treatment Procedure

Administration of the instruments followed the steps below:

1. Pre treatment Assessment (pre test)

2. Treatment

3. Post treatment Assessment (post test)

Pre-treatment Assessment:

The main instrument used for assessment was Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI) originally developed by Spielberger (1980) but revalidated in Nigeria by Perafom Psychometric Centre (PPC) in 1997, and further revalidated by the researchers in 2004. The inventory was administered to the randomly selected sample intact classes. Responses were scored according to the specification on the TAI manual. Scores that are above the Nigeria norm (34.77 for males and 34.37 for females) indicate presence of test anxiety and scores below this show no problem with test anxiety. Only subjects with test anxiety were included in this treatment. These were then randomly assigned to the two (2) treatment groups. A sample of one hundred and twenty-five (125) subjects were randomly selected for this study, out of which seventy eight (78) were test anxious and these went through the treatment programme:

Treatment Programme:

The treatment programmes are of two types:

1. Systematic Desensitisation group

2. Control group

The SD group was exposed to treatment sessions. There were two sessions per week for 30 minutes per session. The whole treatment programme took twelve (12) sessions. In all, six (6) weeks was spent for the treatment programme. Systematic Desensitisation was not applied to the control group. They were only exposed to career opportunities within their localities.

In order to determine the effects of SD and entry test anxiety level of subjects, data collected from the 78 subjects from the two treatment groups were analysed using a two-way ANOVA (i.e. treatment versus entry level of test anxiety) for each level of the two levels of the dependent variable (test anxiety). Similarity among the two (2) treatment groups at pre test was established. The pre test scores from the TAI were used as a blocking variable rather than as a covariate of the post test scores because the correlation coefficient of the two was found to be 0.53.

Results

In order to determine the effects of SD on the test anxiety level of groups at the end of treatment, the following hypotheses were tested using test anxiety level as dependent variable.

H[O.sub.1]: There is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups with moderate and high entry anxiety level at the end of treatment.

H[O.sub.2]: There is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups subjected to SD therapy and control after treatment.

H[O.sub.3] There is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of male and female subjects after treatment.

Data analyses for the testing of the above hypotheses are presented in Tables 1, 2, and 3.

In Table 1, a 2-way analysis of variance showed the F-ratio for the effect of entry test anxiety level to be 27.458 with df (1, 74). This was significant at p<0.05. Similarly, the F-ratio for treatment groups was found to be 9.261 with df (1,74), which was also significant at p<0.05. Thus, the two null hypotheses for test anxiety level and treatment were rejected. It is therefore concluded that:

(i) There was a significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups subjected to the SD therapy and control after treatment.

(ii) There was a significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups with moderate and high entry test anxiety level at the end of treatment.

Having found that treatment and entry test anxiety levels have main effects on the test anxiety level of subjects at the end of treatment, it was necessary to determine the main differences in effects of the two independent variables and at the end of treatment. Data analyses for testing the above hypotheses are presented in the tables below:

Table 2 reveals the mean scores of males and females after treatment. Perusal shows that the mean scores presented in the cells are quite close under each therapy, which indicates that there is no significant difference in the mean scores.

Similarly, the F-ratio for sex in Table 3, was found to be F = 0.079 with df of (1,74) and p > 0.05. This implies that there is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of males and females after treatment. Thus the null hypothesis earlier stated no significant difference in male and female subjects at the end of treatment is retained. This means that the effect of treatment was same in both males and females and the mean scores in Table 2 confirm this when mean scores are compared. Thus, the null hypothesis of no significant effect of treatment by gender on test anxiety level at the end of treatment stated earlier is retained.

Discussion

The findings from the analyses indicated that there was a significant difference between the treatment and control groups on the reduction of test anxiety level at the end of treatment and that entry test anxiety level and treatments were significant in their effects on the reduction of test anxiety level at the end of treatment. The understanding of the entry test anxiety level of subjects will help the counsellor in setting the base line for treatment. This will also guide the counsellor in the tracking of the trend of the treatment during the treatment sessions and at the end of the sessions. It will help the students and counsellor appreciate the level of improvement attained. These findings are in line with Akinboye's (1992) findings on counselling procedure on treatment of psychological and emotional maladjustment. The findings also indicate that both high and moderate test anxiety subjects in the treatment and control groups responded differently.

Following the tested effect of entry test anxiety level on the final test anxiety level of subjects, further analysis was carried out on the other secondary independent variable, which was sex. Considering the hypothesis on sex, findings revealed that there was no significant difference between male and female subject in the reduction of test anxiety at the end of treatment. The analysis indicates that both males and females respond to treatment in the same way. In terms of test anxiety reduction, sex was not found to be significant. These findings cancel out the general assumption that females tend to exhibit severe fear and anxiety more than their male counterparts in everyday life. These results agreed with the work of Seeley, Storey, Wagner, Walker, and Watts (2004), they lbund no statistical significance difference between sex and anxiety levels in their study on anxiety levels and sex differences in social volley ball players. Other studies such as Kirkland (1971), confirm the above findings in his work on reduction of tear and anxiety primarily among elementary children.

However, a few researches conducted in this area have shown that there is a significant difference between males and females in their manifestation of fears and anxieties (Makinde, 2000). The result also showed that females manifest fears and anxieties at a greater degree in varying situations. Other studies, which indicated high female anxiety than their male counterpart, include Krane and Williams, (1994), Sewell and Edmondson (1996). Sewell and Edmondson (1996) found that females show a higher math anxiety, which could result in lower self-confidence than their male counterparts.

Conclusions

From the foregoing analysis and findings, it can be concluded:

Systematic Desensitisation (SD) therapy could be effective in the reduction of test anxiety among school children. Considering test anxiety reduction, the entry test anxiety level is a major variable. This will enable the counsellor set the baseline before treatment commences and to know the direction of effect of treatment. On sex effect, both males and females responded in similar manner to treatment, which could mean that sex may not really affect the outcome of systematic desensitisation therapy. The findings also indicated that whether male or female, both are prone to test anxiety. Since SD therapy proved effective in reducing test anxiety, it follows therefore that the result of this study is valuable to the Nigerian educational system because of the application of this technique in reducing test anxiety. The implementation of the results of this study will to a large extent bring about a reduction in anxiety, which could lead to a reduction in examination malpractice; and wastage rates in the school system.

References

Adedipe, O. (1984). Differential effectiveness of model reinforcement and desensitisation techniques in improving performance. Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation. University of Ibadan. Ibadan.

Adeola, A. O. (1987). The effectiveness of the relaxation Procedure in Anxiety Management. Nigerian Journal of Educational Psychology, 2, (1), 23-29.

Akinboye J. O. (1992). Behaviour therapy and other treatment strategies, Ibadan: Paper back Ltd.

Anameze, I. N.(1992). Effects of value clarification and self confrontation counselling approaches and Academic Achievement Motivation of Secondary School Students. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

CampusBlues. Com (2002- 2004). The University of Cincinnati, Test Anxiety www. CampusBlues_com-Anxiety.htm Retrieved April 9, 2003.

Egbochuku, E. O. (1998), Differential effectiveness of systematic desensitisation and Rational emotive therapy in the reduction of Test Anxiety. Journal of School of Languages. II. (2).25-50

Ellis, A. (1977). Reasons and emotions in psychotherapy. New York. Lyle Stuart.

Kraft, T. (1992). Behaviour therapy for performance anxiety: A Psychodynamic Explanation for Rapidity of Treatment. Contemporary, Hypnosis 9 (3), 175-181.

Makinde, B. O. (2000). Behaviour modification strategies as a tool to reduce fears and anxiety in children and youth in Lagos State. West African Journal of counselling and Psychotherapy, 1(2), 41-51.

Martin, H.(1974). Emotional problems of development in children. New York: Academic Press London.

McCombs (1991). Locus of control Search Engine Index and V Bulletin V2.2.9 Jelsoft Enterprise Ltd. Allnurses.com.

Okoye, N. N. (1986). The challenge of Nigeria school certificate examination, Ibadan: Evans Brothers.

Peraform Psychometrics Centre (PPC) (1997). Test anxiety inventory. TAI manual, No. 7, PPC Nigerian Agency.

Spielberger, C. D (1980). Test Anxiety Inventory. Preliminary professional manual, Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Spielberger, C.D., Gorsuch, R. L & Lushene, R. E. (1970). STAI manual. Palo Alto: Consulting Psychologists Press.

Dr E. O. Egbochuku, Senior Lecturer and Coordinator, Counselling Centre, Department of Educational Psychology and Curriculum Studies, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria. Mrs B. O. Obodo, Provost, Caleb Educational Institute, Ikosi- Ketu, Lagos State.

Correspondence concerning this article should be emailed to Dr. Egbochuku at egbochuk@uniben.edu or mamandidi@yahoo.co.uk.
Table 1

2-way Analysis of Variance for Effects of Treatment Groups and
Entry Test Anxiety Level at Post-test

Source SS df MS F

Entry test anxiety level 2201.566 1 2201.566 27.458
Treatments 742.580 1 742.580 9.261
2-Way Interactions
Entry test anxiety level
Vs Treatments 361.822 1 361.822 4.513
Error 5913.311 74 80.180

Source Sig.

Entry test anxiety level .000
Treatments .003
2-Way Interactions
Entry test anxiety level
Vs Treatments .037
Error

** Significant at 0.05

Table 2

Distribution of Post-test Means on the Differences in the Test Anxiety
Level of Males and Females After Treatment.

 Systematic
Gender Desensitisation Control Total

Male 43.58 (19) 49.45 (20) 46.59 (39)
Female 42.00 (19) 49.65 (20) 45.92 (39)
Total 42.79 (38) 49.55 (40) 46.26 (78)

Table 3

2-way ANOVA showing interaction effects of treatment by sex at the end
of treatment

 Significant
Source SS df MS F probability

Treatment 890.656 1 890.656 7.570 0.007
Sex 9.264 1 9.264 0.079 0.780
2-Way Interactions
Treatment vs Sex 15.418 1 15.418 0.131 0.718
Error 74 117.650
Total 77

* Significant at P < 0.05
COPYRIGHT 2005 George Uhlig Publisher
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2005, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.
mamandidi
Elizabeth Egbochuku (Member): Effects of systematic desensitization(SD) therapy on the reduction of test anxiety among adolescents in Nigerian schools' 2/16/2008 3:21 PM
George Uhlig Publisher,
I observed with dismay as I searched through thefreelibrary.com web site that the article which I co-authored with a junior colleague is credited to her as the sole author. The title of the article is "Effects of systematic desensitization(SD) therapy on the reduction of test anxiety among adolescents in Nigerian schools' and was published in Journal of Instructional Psychology Vol. 32 No.4 December 2005. As a result, while in the site a search for "Egbochuku" returns no result. It is only when one searches for "Obodo" that the article appears.
This is unacceptable and I advice the error be corrected immediately.
Dr E.O.Egbochuku
mamandidi
Elizabeth Egbochuku (Member): Effects of systematic desensitization(SD) therapy on the reduction of test anxiety among adolescents in Nigerian schools' 2/16/2008 3:26 PM
This is an excellent research work.

 Reader Opinion

Title:

Comment:



 

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Title Annotation:educational psychology research; includes statistical tables
Author:Obodo, B.O.
Publication:Journal of Instructional Psychology
Geographic Code:6NIGR
Date:Dec 1, 2005
Words:3466
Previous Article:Changes to students' learning processes following instruction on the topic.
Next Article:Impact of citizenship education on the civic consciousness of Nigerian youth.
Topics:


Related Articles
At-Risk Adolescents Perceptions of Learning Temperaments: Implications for Educational Intervention.
The effect of maternal employment on schoolchildren's educational aspirations in Korea.
An intervention for helping elementary students reduce test anxiety. (Perspective From The Field).
An instrument to measure mathematics attitudes.
Test anxiety and its effect on the personality of students with learning disabilities.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2015 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters