Using mixed methods to explore test anxiety in young people with learning difficulties

Fong, Haley (2023). Using mixed methods to explore test anxiety in young people with learning difficulties. University of Birmingham. Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.

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There is growing evidence to suggest that children and young people are experiencing more mental health difficulties (NHS Digital, 2020) and this is especially the case for those with learning difficulties (NHS Digital, 2021). More specifically, there has been a focus on the impact of testing on children and young people’s mental health (McCaldin et al., 2019). Much of the current research on test anxiety focuses on children and young people in general and uses quantitative approaches (Putwain, 2007).

This research explores test anxiety in young people (Year 7 and 8) with learning difficulties in cognition and learning. A mixed methods approach was used to measure levels of trait test anxiety and to explore their experiences of test anxiety, specifically their views on tests and what they perceive contributes towards and alleviates test anxiety.

The young people in this study experience a range of feelings associated with tests and exams across different levels of trait test anxiety. They reported that difficulties with understanding and writing and self-concept contributed towards test anxiety. Importantly, they perceive that practical support, emotional support and distraction and relaxation activities are ways to alleviate test anxiety. These findings link with Zeidner’s (1998) Integrative Transactional Model of Test Anxiety.

The implications of this research are that whilst some students with learning difficulties do not experiences high trait test anxiety, they can experience some degree of worry and anxiety. Therefore, it is important to be able to provide universal support to all students in order to provide proactive support to help with their worries regarding exams. Additionally, for some students who do experience high trait test anxiety, a more bespoke approach may be beneficial as it is clear there are many factors which can be associated with higher levels of anxiety.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ap.Ed.&ChildPsy.D.
Licence: All rights reserved All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Social Sciences
School or Department: School of Education
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
L Education > L Education (General)


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