Influence Of Gender And Mode Of Study On Examination Anxiety Among Undergraduates

Project and Seminar Material for Psychology

Influence Of Gender And Mode Of Study On Examination Anxiety Among Undergraduates


This study investigated the influence of gender and mode of study on examination anxiety among undergraduates. 77 regular students (37 males and 40 females) and 53 mature students (28 males and 25 females) were sampled. The sample were randomly selected from the population of both mature and regular students of Enugu State University of Science and Technology. The age range of the mature students were between 35 – 54 years with a mean age of 47 years and standard deviation of 6 years, while that of the regular students is between 19 – 26 years with a mean age of 22 years, and standard deviation of 4 years. 15 item questionnaire with likert 5 response format was used 2 x 2 factorial design was adopted while two way ANOVA statistics was used for data analysis. Findings revealed that a significant influence of gender on examination anxiety exist among undergraduates F, (1, 126) = 11.8 p< .01. And a significant influence of mode of study on examination anxiety exist also among undergraduates F, (1, 126) = 48.9 p < .01.There was a significant interaction influence of gender and mode of study on examination anxiety among undergraduates f (1, 126) = 2565.5 p < .01.Findings of the study were discussed, and recommendations were also made.

Chapter One


Background of the Study

Low performance of students in exams especially external exam is no longer news in Nigeria. Over the years, stakeholders in this field having been working tirelessly to remedy the ugly phenomena unfortunately, their effort is yet to yield any significant impact. A situation that is giving all the tiers of Nigerian Government sleepless night.

Various factors have been identified as hindrance to promoting academic excellence in Nigeria, among which are, poor funding of education, lack of infrastructure in the school, lack of man-power etc. On the part of the students, lack of interest, love for money or what is known as get rich quick syndrome were identified. Unfortunately, none of them was able to see exam anxiety. At times, students will read very well yet he or she will perform poorly in exam simply because of tension. Exam itself causes anxiety to some students (Nelson, 2001). studies have shown that exam anxiety makes a student to forget all that he or she studied (Nelson 2002).

Clear understanding of features of anxiety is enough proof to it’s effect on remembering. Anxiety causes muscle tension which makes the brain t be unrelaxed thereby causing forgetfulness.

Anxiety is complex and mysterious. The more you learn about it, the more baffling it seems. It is a negative mood state that is characterized by bodily symptoms of physical tension and apprehension about the future. (American Psychological Association 1994; Durand & Barlow 2002). It can also be seen as a subjective sense of unease, a set of behaviours (such as looking worried, anxious or fidgeting) or a physiological response originating in the brain and reflecting on elevated heart rate and muscle tension.

During anxiety reactions or response, the heart, lungs, and other parts of the body work faster. The brain also releases the emergence (stress) hormone adrenaline and cortisol (Obidigbo, 2008) people who experience this disorder usually report being unhappy and behavious is maladaptive.

In school, some students experience some kind of anxiety disorder within their stay in school, (Nelson, 2002) and the most common is examination anxiety. Examination anxiety may manifest among students through admission of wrong or series of unwarranted fear, rapid breathing, through meticulous cautions. (Nelson 2002).

In education, there is a common measuring scale the method, or the process of evaluating the understanding and proficiency of a student in what he or she learns within a given time interval. The evaluation may be in two forms viz: formative or surmative education. The formative process is done during the instruction, while the surmative is done at the end of the course of the instruction. Therefore, a systematic procedure for measuring a sample of behavious is examination.

In school environment, one of the most arousing stimuli examination, and all signs of nervousness are observed among some of our students, but these signs seems to disappear as soon as exams are over.

This is mostly seen when the students did not prepare very well for the examination, or when they are given examination by surprise. They find it very difficult to concentrate on their work.

Some will start sweating on their palms, as well as other parts of their body. A close watch on some students, one may see them dropping things like books, rulers and bags on the ground, which some will hit their legs on tables, chairs etc. All these are believed to be manifestations of examination anxiety (Wind, 2000). This has also Lead to the reduction in our standard of education, for instance, some of the secondary school students, who are too anxious about examination will fail an exam and to avoid this frustration, which will affect the student image or regulation, they will resort to examination malpractice (Cheating) in order to scale through. Not because they are unintelligent, or that they did not prepare well for the exam, but because they are afraid to fail the exam.

The manifestation of examination anxiety differs, depending on the individual, students and the subjects, some students may enjoy calculations and dislike or avoid any subject that involves a lot of grammar or writing, while others may enjoy subjects with a lot of grammar and writing, and hate calculations.

Most times, pressure from parents, teachers and environment contribute to this problem of examination anxiety. Parents and teachers mount so much pressure on these students to ensure that they perform better in their examination, but at a point, these students get too anxious about the exam and how they will perform, and the consequences of failing an examination. The resultant effect being that the over-anxious student will now perform very poorly in the examination. The environment maybe too stressful for these students to learn effectively and this will make them not to prepare well for the examination. The result of being afraid of an exanimation, results in failure or poor academic performance which brings united hardship and frustration to the students. This could be in form of having one’s hope dashed. For example, when we consider the problem involved in getting ourselves registered for an examination then it becomes frustrating when success is elusive. Also, the rigour involved when preparing for an examination becomes painful when the outcome is not positive.

Obviously, negative outcome of exam may be attributed to one of the factors that promote examination anxiety. When a student who expected to pass an exam eventually failed, such student may become tensed about exam. Above all, one may say that teacher student relationship have a role to play on tension that goes with exam anxiety.

Obviously, the relationship between the teachers and matured students and that of lecturers and regular students is not the same.

Therefore, to determine whether this disparity in relationship has a race to play in examination anxiety, the present study is interested in comparing the level of examination anxiety among the two groups.

Based on the discussion above, one may ask whether personality or other variables of an individual could affect or determine the level of the individual’s examination anxiety. Hence, the present study is designed to gives answer to the question by looking at the effect of gender and mode of study an examination.

Statement of the Problem

Over the years, researchers have reported low performance of students in academic work. No wonder there is high decline of education in our society today. However, various factors such as, poor reading environment, lack of reading materials and so on have been identified as contributors to poor academic performance in our schools. Surprisingly, some schools with these facilities still have high levels of poor performance in exams especially external exams like National Examination and West Africa Examination.

In addition, studies have identified factors such as examination anxiety as a bane for students’ low academic performance. (Nelson 2002). With reference to the discussion above, the present study deemed it necessary to look at role of factors such as gender and mode of study in determining Examination anxiety among Adolescents.

Therefore, the following problems will be addressed in this study.

  1. Will male and female undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety.
  2. Will regular and mature undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety.

Objective of the Study

  1. To determine if the male and female undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety.
  2. To investigate if the regular and mature undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety.

Research Question

  1. Will male and female undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety ?
  2. Will regular and mature undergraduates differ significantly on manifestation of examination anxiety ?

Significance of Study

The findings of this study will be theoretically significant as the data provided will hopefully help Educational psychologists in propounding general theory of study skills related behaviours, anxiety and school achievement The findings of this study will be found useful by the teachers, students, curriculum planners and educational psychologists. For the teachers, the study exposes them to the different study skills. This, will in turn make them to appreciate the influence that study skills have on their students test anxiety levels and achievement.

The findings of this study will be of immense help to educational psychologists and counselors and assist them in their different duties towards the students and their overall achievement. The students will also benefit as they may realize how specific skills related to their studies influenced their anxiety levels and school achievement.

Scope of the Study

This study will be carried out in Enugu State University of Science and Technology Enugu and will be limited to students of the school. The content scope of this study will be limited to study skills adopted by the subjects in the area and its influence on low and high level of test anxiety and school achievement. Also, the influence of gender on test anxiety and school achievement will be discussed.

Operational Definition of Terms


Being male or female

Examination Anxiety:

This will be determined based on the instrument used to measure the construct in this study.

Mode of Study:

In this study, this simply means regular/full time students and matured part time students.

Chapter Five


Obviously, the two hypothesis tested in this study, yielded significant outcomes.

The first hypothesis which stated that gender will not significantly influence examination anxiety was rejected. This shows that gender as a factor influence examination anxiety with females showing higher level of examination anxiety than males. The outcome of this finding revealed that female undergraduates irrespective of mode of study, manifest a higher level of anxiety during examination than their male counterparts. This may be attributed to the fact that male undergraduates have less phobia with school activities including examination because most of them are social.

In addition, some of the lecturers tend to put excessive fear on the students which affects the female students more. However, the outcome of this finding is in consonance with the findings of earlier researcher.

Jame and O’ Neil (2001) showed that there is a statistically significant difference between the attitude boys and girls towards anxiety inhibition. Boys according to them tend to be anxious towards vocabulary examination, while girls show high anxiety in mathematics examination.

Also schab, (2004) concluded that females become more nervous than males n academic task performance. In a later study, O’Neil and Harrison (2006) observed no significant sex difference in anxiety among students.

However, the second hypothesis tested which stated that mode of study will not significantly influence examination anxiety was also rejected. This means that mode of study significantly influence examination anxiety among undergraduates, with regular students manifesting higher level of examination anxiety than mature students. This may be attributed to age factor. It is observed that mature students are made up of middle aged and old students, unlike regular students who were between 19 – 26 years. Various studies have shown that age is a factor in examination anxiety. Wind (2000) postulated that older students do not worry a great deal before examination and consequently they perform better. In line with this findings, Doll (2002) opined that the reason behind high anxiety during examination among young ones could be attributed to young mind. On the other hand, Nelson (2002) observed no age difference rather it depends on the test involved.

Finally, one could say that mature undergraduates manifest less examination anxiety because, they tend to have a better relationship with their lectures than the regular students.

Implications of the Findings

The outcome of this study has obvious implications. First and foremost, the findings will serve as an empirical study for future researchers. Above all, it has exposed gender differences in examination anxiety as well as mode of study.
In addition, this revealed that examination anxiety which is always thought to be a secondary school affair also exist in tertiary institution. With the findings of this study, stake holders in education will extend their counseling mission on examination to tertiary institutions.

In as much as studies reviewed indicated examination anxiety in academic poor performance among secondary school students, the outcome of this study also revealed it is also applicable at tertiary institution since they experience examination anxiety as well.

Limitations of the Study

There were obvious limitations in this study First and foremost, only 130 participants were used out of myriads of students in Enugu State University of Science and Technology . In addition, lack of finance hindered the expansion of this work to other schools. Also the attitude of some students towards the completion of the questionnaire at the initial stage was discouraging.

Suggestion for Further Studies

Based on the finding of this study, it is pertinent for future researchers to look at the influence of other variables such as family, Socio-Economic and Educational background on examination. This is because it may be a confounding variable to the present study.

In addition, future researcher should as well check the role of personality factors such as Assertiveness, Introvert, Extrovert as well as self-efficacy in determining examination anxiety.


Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations are hereby made.

Similar study should be carried out in other to cross-validate the outcome of this study.

In addition, the role of counselors and group counseling on common student problem like poor study habit and hatred tendency exhibited in school courses should be emphasized.

More often than not, examination anxiety arises as a result of lack of adequate preparation for examination and fear of falling short of expected standard set by parents. It could be minimized by preparing very well before examination. In addition to that, parents should desist from setting unnecessary high standards for their children or expecting too much from them especially at a level where their cognitive development can only cope with a certain level of knowledge.

Furthermore, lecturers should not only be teaching the students the subject matter. They should also make the students understand that whoever reads well will pass therefore they should not panic.

Summary / Conclusion

Based on the findings of this study, one may conclude that examination anxiety is common in our schools today.

However, it is also a canker worm that has been eating deep into the fabric students’ academic performance. Hence with reference to the findings, the researcher summarizes that a significant gender difference was found to exist on examination anxiety among undergraduates with females manifesting higher examination anxiety than males.
Mode of study also influence examination anxiety, with regular students manifesting higher examination anxiety than mature students.

Finally a significant interaction influence of Gender and mode of study were found on examination anxiety among undergraduates.

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