The relation between test anxiety and minorities
By: Lubna Maklada
Anxieties and fears are universal emotions developed by people in stressful situations. Anxiety is defined as an emotion one feels in connection with certain situations or specific locations (Spielberg, 1996). Anxiety may be a part of personal characteristics of a person or to show up only in stressful situations. As most children, youths and adults feel frightened occasionally (Ollendik& King, 1994), it is quite difficult to differentiate between pathological situations and normative situations (Safren et al., 2000). According to the DSM-IV manual for diagnosis of illnesses, anxiety disorders include the following fears: fear of separation, over-anxiety, fear of avoidance, fear of company, panic, compulsion-obsession, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and general anxiety (APA, 1994). The first three types are defined as "disorders of children and youths" and therefore it is extremely important to research those fears in the different populations.
Different types of examinations are integral part of the daily life of people in the reality a modern world. Test Anxiety is one of the most common anxieties in youths and adolescents (Cassadi, 2010). Between 25 and 40 percent of the adolescent population suffer from Test Anxiety (Cassadi, 2010).
Test Anxiety is a significant factor in the success in exams. Many a researcher has reached the conclusion that there is a negative relation between the anxiety level and the level of achievements in an exam. )Macintyre & Gardner1989; Horwitz et al., 1991). Test Anxiety goes up significantly when the exam results have an effect on future professional opportunities of the youth (Peleg&Klingman, 2002).
Nowadays, Test Anxiety is defined as a multi-dimensional process (Morris et al., 1981;Spielberg, 1980). This process is composed of concern, which is the cognitive part of anxiety, and an emotional part accompanied by different physiological reactions )Morris et al., 1981; Tyron, 1980). Another definition depicts the physical level reactions of Test Anxiety (sweat, muscle tension, sleeplessness), and on the thought level (concentration difficulties, confusion, black-outs) (Weinberg & Gould, 2007).
Test Anxiety is affected on one hand by personal characteristics of the individual, and on the other hand by his living and working environment (Casbarro, 2005). Examination Anxiety may cause a lowering of study motivation of the youth (Elliot & McGregor, 1990), suppression of the immune system (Keogh & French, 2001(, lowering of the cognitive level (Eysenck&Calvo, 1992). These influences were found in all levels of education, from elementary schools and up to university education (Zeidner, 1998). From studystrategies standpoint, the Test Anxiety might bring about two main study methods: over-study and under-study (avoidance of study) (Horwitz et al., 1991; Price, 1991). Both methods cause negative correlation between achievements and study time investment.
Thus, it can be concluded that Test Anxiety is a complicated process, which requires a multitude of researches in order to get it explained.
Throughout the past decade, unique anxieties that have been developed by minority populations had received much attention of researchers. Cultural factors may hold a significant role in defining the intensity and frequency of the anxiety (Zeidner, 1997). There are minute differences between the different symptoms of anxiety developed by minorities. For example specific anxieties of African-Americans or Caucasians in the US were examined in the elderly population)Blazer et al., 1994; Robins et al., 1984). It was found that there is a difference in the characteristics of panic that African-Americans develop as compared to Caucasians )Bell et al., 1988).
Test anxiety is universal and exists in different cultures )El-Zahhar&Hocevar, 1991; Morris et al., 1981(. It is known that in many Eastern countries there is high pressure for achievements (Zeidner, 1997). As a result of this pressure emotions of guilt are formed in instances of failure. Researches have proven that in those cultures the test anxiety level of children of all levels of education is higher than that of their peers in the Western countries. Thus, for instance, in the research of Diaz-Guerrero (1976) such differences were found between Mexican students and North-American students. The Mexican students have reported a fear of failure in the exam that stemmed from a fear of disappointing their parents )Diaz-Guerrero, 1976). Research results show that the anxiety level of students from Muslim countries before an exam is higher than that of students from the rest of the world by more than one standard deviation (El-Zahhar&Hocevar, 1991). This anxiety stems in part from the competitive structure of the educational system in those countries.
In Israel, Jews and Arabs live side by side, what could support the assumption of a mutual cultural co-influence. The typical Jewish family is mostly individualistic and democratic )Weller et al., 1995(. On the other hand, an Arab family is more aimed toward social values )Weller et al., 1995). The influence of familial style and the co-influence of the two cultures may influence the Test Anxiety of the Arab citizens of Israel.
Researches on the bilateral influence of those cultures on Test Anxiety in students of both nations seem interesting and important
The relation between test anxiety and minorities
Table 1.Characteristics of studies analyzed for systematic review
In three articles demonstrated the differences between minorities and the major of population with relate to text anxiety(Steele & Aronson, 1995; Peleg-Porko et al., 2003; Cohen et al., 2008). Research findings indicted the overall minorities suffer from test anxiety to a greater extent compare to the majority. Also test anxiety is positively related to a low socio-economic class (Baya’a, 1990). Several findings indicate that there were no gender effect with relate to test anxiety (Ndirangu et al., 2009 ;Shomoossi et al., 2009), Whereas other findings indicate that girls tend to suffer more than text anxiety compared to boys. (Baya’a, 1990; Peleg-Porko, 2004; Nasser et al., 2007). Test anxiety is higher before the test than after the test.(Ndirangu et al., 2009). Test anxiety was correlated to emotional responses (Peleg-Porko, 2004), negative thoughts (Nasser et al., 2007) and perception toward the test as well as self efficacy (Mulvenon et al., 2005). Some findings indicate that intervention and time might have a positive effect on test anxiety (Weems et al., 2009).
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