Students’ responses to past, present, and future events in academic settings often include emotions. One the one hand, the students’ actions and reflections in the learning process may be greatly aided by positive emotions like interest, pleasure, and pride via motivation and performance (Pekrun and Stephens, 2010). However, unpleasant feelings like rage, impatience, and anxiety have a detrimental effect on how well students learn. One of the key indicators of academic success among university students is anxiety. Due to anxiety’s rising prevalence among college students, undergraduate education researchers have been particularly interested in how anxiety affects academic performance. According to Vitasari et al. (2010), students who struggle with anxiety have a passive attitude toward their learning, which might lead to a lack of interest in the subject matter and subpar academic performance. According to Jamil et al. (2022), pupils may perform below expectations in the classroom due to fear rather than a lack of aptitude.
This research is important since Chinese university students’ anxiety levels are rising, which might negatively affect their academic performance—especially while taking crucial examinations. Numerous earlier research have shown the rising worry about the large number of Chinese university students who experience anxiety difficulties. According to Sung et al. (2016), test anxiety was positively correlated with success among Chinese students, with gender differences. According to Wang and Liu (2022), anxiety symptoms are becoming more common among Chinese university students. According to the report, roughly 25% of university students in China felt anxious during the COVID-19 outbreak. Similarly, Wen et al. (2022) found that many Chinese college students suffered anxiety, which both directly and indirectly influenced depression. They did this by utilizing the 2-item General Anxiety Disorder (GAD-2) questionnaire. According to Wang and Fan (2023), poor sleep and academic stress were the main factors contributing to anxiety in Chinese teenagers, which had a detrimental effect on their academic performance.
There is, however, still a lack of knowledge regarding this phenomena, particularly when students are preparing for significant exams, despite the growing number of research looking at the relationship between anxiety and academic success of Chinese university students. Additionally, a lot of current research focuses on measuring the link between anxiety and academic success without examining how students’ and instructors’ views and judgments of the link are affected. Therefore, the proposed research will primarily concentrate on the frequency of anxiety among Chinese students during significant exams to investigate students’ and instructors’ perspectives and thoughts on how it can effect university students’ academic accomplishments in these exams. The following research goals will be attempted to be attained by the proposed study:
- To determine whether Chinese students suffer from anxiety issues as a result of the stress of taking crucial tests
- Examine how Chinese university students who are preparing for critical examinations perceive the impact of anxiety issues on their academic performance.
- Examine how students perceive the impact of anxiety issues on their academic performance as Chinese university students preparing for crucial examinations.
My goal in this subject is to comprehend how anxiety affects students’ performance on significant tests, with a particular emphasis on university students in China. I like learning new things and pushing myself to do new research, and I firmly feel that working in the field of psychology in education has given me the information and confidence I need to advance my abilities and comprehension of how kids’ mental and emotional processes affect their learning and accomplishment. As a university student who has taken several significant tests during my academic career, I have a tremendous desire to share my experiences with other students. My interest in psychology and education has been greatly influenced by my knowledge of these feelings and my ability to manage my anxiousness to pass my tests. My goal is thus developing methods and techniques that might assist Chinese institutions and students in overcoming anxiety-related difficulties and enhancing academic performance during crucial examinations.
2. Literature review
2.1. What is anxiety in university students?
The twin qualities of excessive emotional dread and physiological arousal in the learning environment characterize anxiety in university students, which is one of the biggest psychophysiology difficulties (Vitasari et al., 2010). Similar to this, Wani and Nadaf (2018) said that anxiety is the fundamental human feeling of apprehension and doubt that often manifests when pupils see a situation as endangering their ego or self-esteem. According to Jackson (2017), another factor contributing to university students’ anxiety is their fear of difficulties, setbacks, or seeming foolish in front of their classmates. This factor has a significant negative impact on their self-esteem and their capacity to study and participate actively in class. Pre-test anxiety, which includes fear and self-doubt and may hinder academic performance, is a common symptom of exam anxiety (Trifoni and Shahini, 2011). Because of this, anxiety among college students is characterized by a propensity to worry excessively, feel fearful, and feel panicky. University students therefore suffer anxiety circumstances throughout their studies, which may affect their academic achievement.
In university students, anxiety may take many different forms. According to Bahrami and Rezvan (2007), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by students’ excessive concern over commonplace problems and circumstances, which makes them agitated, exhausted, unable to concentrate, and unable to fall asleep. Study anxiety refers to passive study behaviors, such as a lack of interest in the material being studied and a lack of drive to engage in class activities. Phobias are the extreme, irrational fears that university students could have about certain events. As a result of their acute dread of being evaluated, university students who suffer from social anxiety may avoid certain circumstances, which would be detrimental to their ability to learn collaboratively. Last but not least, test or exam anxiety describes having strong emotions, worry, or panic before or during a test or evaluation. test anxiety, according to Trifoni and Shahini (2011), might manifest as melancholy, a lack of confidence, rage, or a sense of helplessness throughout the test or assessment period. Exam anxiety may be brought on by a fear of failing, not having enough time to prepare, or having a poor history of taking significant tests.
2.2. Impact of anxiety on academic achievement
It is not novel to investigate the relationship between anxiety and academic success among Chinese university students. The association between anxiety and academic success has been shown in the literature already in existence from many angles. Sung et al. (2016) investigated the relationship between test anxiety and accomplishment among Chinese students using the national standardized entrance examination (BCTEST) as a baseline for gauging success. The information showed a relationship between test anxiety and success, which is relevant to the study’s research issue. However, among Chinese university students, test anxiety was associated in an inverted-U fashion with various degrees of accomplishment. Furthermore, even though females had more test anxiety than boys, the correlation between test anxiety and achievement was the same for both genders.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effects on anxiety and stress among Chinese university students were shown by Wang and Zhao’s research (2020) utilizing the SAS survey in the Chinese province of Hubei. The statistics showed a considerable discrepancy between students in various study majors at the institution as well as between men and girls. Zhan et al. (2021), following Wang and Zhao (2020), concentrated on how the COVID-19 pandemic epidemic had a substantial influence on university students in China by examining stress, anxiety, and depression levels. They examined survey data from around 1,586 Chinese university students using the Self-rating Anxiety Scale (SAS) to examine their levels of anxiety. The results indicated that 20.60% of students (SAS standard score >= 50) experienced anxiety. Chinese university students had intense worry as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly those who hadn’t started classes yet. The findings also showed that kids who had recently started school again had anxiety as a consequence of living together with classmates from various locations, which had a detrimental impact on their learning and evaluation success.
Significant variations in the incidence of anxiety among Chinese college students were discovered by Gao et al. in 2020. In the first and second years, female students scored considerably higher on the anxiety scale than did male students. Additionally, the results showed that a disproportionately higher percentage of female pupils had anxiety levels above normal. The findings also showed that gender differences were manifested in academic performance, with more anxiety among female students who performed relatively poorly compared to male students, even though there were no significant differences among students from different tier universities in China. Xiao et al. (2021) examined the association between test anxiety and grit among Chinese university students in central China. Grit is essential for learning and tests and is a powerful predictor of academic achievement. According to the research, persistence was not substantially correlated with exam anxiety among female students, but consistency was. Both persistence and consistency had a bad relationship with test anxiety among male students. The findings suggested that male students at Chinese institutions were more resilient to exam anxiety and outperformed female students academically. As a result, Chinese university students with grit performed better academically because they were able to push through test nervousness.
Due to academic pressure, Wang et al. (2023) discovered an increase in the incidence of anxiety and depression symptoms among Chinese college students, which negatively impacted their academic performance. The authors modeled the survey data from 1,291 college students in Chinese colleges using the GAD-7 model. The results showed that anxiety caused by unchecked concern was common among Chinese college students, and that it was driven by the fear of receiving subpar marks, failing exams, and failing assessments. In conclusion, Wang et al. (2023) suggested an intervention to improve behaviors and emotions related to achieving a certain performance by boosting self-efficacy.
3. Research aim and objectives
In my proposed research, I want to investigate how Chinese university students who are preparing for significant exams perceive the link between anxiety and academic accomplishment. I want to use this to address the following research questions:
- Are Chinese students suffering from anxiety issues as a result of the stress of key exams?
- How do professors see the consequences of anxiety issues on the academic performance of Chinese university students preparing for significant exams?
- How do students perceive the impact of anxiety issues on academic performance of Chinese university students preparing for significant exams?
1. Methodology and methods
1.1. Research methodology
The general strategy I’ll use to carry out the suggested study is referred to as the research technique. According to Goertz and Mahoney (2012), the research methodology is my perspective on the research process, which encompasses the ontology of our presumptions about the nature of reality and the epistemology of how we learn in order to accomplish the stated research goals. My stance on the presumptions about the nature of reality and the method of learning the relevant information is based on the research plan, philosophy, and methodology used in the proposed study. My major goal in the research is to examine how Chinese university students who are preparing for key examinations perceive the link between anxiety and academic accomplishment from the perspectives of professors and students. Because the qualitative research approach allows me to dive into the participants’ deeper meanings and understandings of the studied phenomena, I have decided to employ it. In order to comprehend participants’ conceptions, attitudes, perceptions, and perceptions regarding the study concerns, qualitative research methodologies gather and analyze non-numerical data (Aspers and Corte, 2019). Because of this, I will be able to learn more about the research topic and get in-depth insights into it by employing qualitative research techniques for this study, something I cannot do using quantitative research methods. I’ll concentrate on deciphering the respondents’ replies’ implications for the study question.
In the research, I’m interested in how Chinese university professors and students see the connection between test anxiety and academic performance among university students. As they create their meanings and understandings of the study question in their natural environment, I will interpret their experiences and perspectives. I shall thus use the theory of interpretative research. According to an interpretative research methodology, the greatest method for comprehending the significance of the data that may be gathered about a study phenomena is to comprehend people’s ideas and reasoning in their natural environment (Alharahsheh and Pius, 2020). Because I see reality as intersubjective and reliant on meanings and understandings on social and experiential levels, I shall utilize relativist ontology. The best way to interpret the meanings, in my opinion, is to comprehend how university students and teachers interpret and experience the world around them, and how this directly affects how they interpret and experience the relationship between academic achievement and anxiety among Chinese university students taking significant exams.
Because I use a comprehensive approach to the qualitative work, I must pay close attention to the crucial links between the methodologies used and the philosophical framework (Pham, 2018). I shall use a subjectivist epistemology as I work to build various understandings of the relationship between anxiety and academic accomplishment by Chinese university students during significant examinations using narratives of personal experiences of professors and students. This method, in my opinion, makes it impossible to separate individuals from their knowledge since the research and the study topic are inextricably linked (Feast and Melles, 2010). That is, the social world is reliant on human understanding to function. People are complicated entities that see objective reality in various ways and behave deliberately as a result. In order to fully comprehend the relationship between anxiety and university students’ performance on crucial examinations, this research focuses on how students and professors build meanings and experiences. Since the interpretivism technique enables me to concentrate on personal meanings and perspectives on the study subject, this will result in data with a high level of validity (Pham, 2018).
1.2. Sampling technique
10 participants, 5 students, and 5 lecturers from Chinese institutions on the Chinese mainland will be my sources for data. I will choose the participants using a purposive sampling strategy. According to Etikan et al. (2016), a purposive sampling strategy is a non-probability selection technique in which researchers utilize their knowledge to choose certain participants in order to aid the study in achieving its objectives. I will choose Chinese university students for the proposed research who have first-hand knowledge of the challenges caused by anxiety during significant examinations. On the other side, I will choose professors who have a track record of supporting and advising students who struggle with test anxiety. This will guarantee that I find and choose individuals who are knowledgeable and able to provide in-depth replies to the study questions. In addition, this sampling strategy is appropriate for choosing a small sample size that can provide in-depth information to the research.
1.3. Data collection methods
Interviews will be used to get information from the selected individuals. The interview data collecting approach is a qualitative research technique that includes talking with respondents and gathering in-depth information on a study subject using open-ended questions (Alsheenqeeti, 2014). Because they allow for a direct interaction between the researcher and respondents, interviews are often more goal-driven than other forms of data gathering procedures. I want to employ semi-structured interviews for the research since they combine open-ended questions with a preset theme framework, giving for flexibility (Magaldi and Berler, 2020). This will also give me the opportunity to probe more for information from the responses. Semi-structured interviews are the most efficient technique to examine respondents’ attitudes, behavior, experiences, and meanings of the research problem since I need to get in-depth data on the study concerns. In essence, I will gather in-depth information from university professors and students regarding their views of the relationship between academic success and anxiety in Chinese university students taking significant exams.
The interviews will be conducted over the phone or online using Zoom. It would be simpler to do phone interviews since I have their contacts for some of the kids and instructors I pick. For people who refuse to take part in telephone interviews, however, I will do online interviews. Personal contact will assist clear up any issues and provide additional information on the interview questions, ensuring that I acquire thorough data from helpful and competent sources to guide my study aims. The research will gain from using semi-structured interviews in a number of ways. I will be careful to prepare questions in advance for semi-structured interviews to assist direct the discourse and keep responders on the subject (Magaldi and Berler, 2020). This is due to the fact that they permit a preset framework with the freedom to ask questions to further elucidate on replies. Additionally, the semi-structured interview allows for some flexibility while still adhering to the study requirements.
I’ll talk about the many moral concerns around interviewing participants in a study. First, I shall get the permission of the instructors and students I want to interview for my project. To obtain the students’ and teachers’ informed consent, it is essential to explain the research’s purpose and focus, the methods used, the anticipated research findings and implications, any potential risks involved in the research process, and their role in the interview data collection process (Manti and Licari, 2018). In order to let the selected instructors and students know what is expected of them in the research, I will do so by giving them a permission form and participation information page. Additionally, individuals will be made aware of their unfettered right to resign from the study project at any moment. Any participant who wants to leave the research is welcome to do so, but I will ask them to officially inform me in order to give me enough time to identify replacements. I will ask for their consent to audio-record the interviews so that I may transcribe them for the sake of data analysis.
Additionally, I will take a number of precautions to ensure that participants’ privacy and anonymity are maintained during the interview process (Wiles et al., 2008). To preserve participants’ private information, I will first refrain from disclosing any contact details such phone numbers or my Zoom identity. Even though some of the participants are close friends of mine, I will keep their personal information secret in order to ensure the research’s confidentiality. In order to maintain the respondents’ anonymity, the interview questions will not attempt to gather any personal information, such as the names and addresses of the respondents’ homes. Only broad personal details, such as age and gender, which cannot be used to identify individuals, will be the subject of the interview questions. Finally, I shall refer to the participants by their code names. I’ll use code designations S001 through S005 for the pupils. To protect their privacy, I will assign the professors code names ranging from T001 to T005.
Consequently, data security will be essential since I’ll be working with first-hand information. To protect the security of the participants’ data, I shall take a number of steps. First, only the research team will have access to personally identifying information. The only people with access to the information in the safe file location are my boss and I. Second, the information will be password-protected and kept in a safe place where it will be inaccessible to anybody not involved in the study process. Last but not least, to prevent unintentional data breaches, all voice recordings and contact information utilized throughout the sampling process will be erased right away. The interview transcripts will also only be kept up to graduation, after which they will be completely erased from the university’s safe storage locations.
3. Results analysis
For the research, I’ll use the theme analysis technique for qualitative data analysis. Braun and Clarke (2012) define thematic analysis as a technique for assessing qualitative data that comprises reviewing interview transcripts and searching for patterns in the meaning of data in order to identify themes that might explain the outcomes. The process of making sense of and drawing themes from the data will concentrate on my subjective experience since this data analysis approach is an active process of reflexivity. In order to understand how Chinese university students and professors see the connection between anxiety and academic accomplishment as a result of the pressure of key tests, it is my responsibility as a researcher to find, evaluate, and interpret the interview transcripts from Chinese universities. I’ll use the six-step theme analysis procedure (Maguire & Delahunt, 2017), which entails familiarization, coding, creating, evaluating, defining, identifying, and writing up.
I shall familiarize myself with the facts as a first step. I’ll first acquaint myself with the information by transcribing the audio, reviewing the text, and making quick notes. I’ll then code the information by underlining words and phrases that indicate related topics. Codes may read “I fear to fail,” “I have not prepared adequately,” and “my failure experience in past results create worrisome thoughts,” for example. After that, I’ll create themes using these scripts. This will include assessing the codes and classifying them into patterns that can be recognized as one subject. Three such themes are “performance pressure,” “fear of failure,” and “low performance.” I will next go through the developed themes to make sure they are applicable and appropriately reflect the interview facts. I will examine the themes, determine how they aid in the interpretation of the data, and then give each topic a name that is simple to comprehend. Finally, I will write up my data analysis by noting how often the themes appear and utilizing quotations from the interviews to substantiate the claims.
For my research, theme analysis provides a number of advantages. One key benefit is theoretical and study design flexibility, which enables me to use themes to evaluate data in-depth (Braun and Clarke, 2012). As a consequence, it will enable me to develop fresh ideas and concepts from the interview data to comprehend how Chinese university professors and students interpret the impact of anxiety issues on students’ academic performance as a result of pressure while taking crucial tests. Additionally, thematic analysis, which inductively creates codes and themes from the data, is the greatest method for analyzing interview material outside of a person’s experience.
The following is the proposed schedule for my study:
|May||· Conduct background research
· Application for ethical approval
· Drafting the introduction chapter
|June||· Start planning research methods
· Design interview questions
· Write up the literature review chapter
|July||· Write methodology and research methods
· Sample participants
· Conduct actual interviews
· Data coding and analysis
· Write research findings
|August||· Draft discussion and conclusion
· Full draft and proofreading
· Final submission
I want to learn how Chinese university lecturers and students see the impact of anxiety issues on academic performance of Chinese university students under pressure to perform well on critical examinations. Understanding the feelings experienced by Chinese university students during significant examinations and the benefits of managing anxiety are the subjects of my research. The results of this research will have a considerable impact on psychology and education, both practically and theoretically. The results might be used practically by Chinese university students and instructors to create tactics and methods that would assist Chinese institutions and students in overcoming anxiety difficulties and enhancing academic performance during significant tests. Furthermore, the research results may help guide governmental decisions about widespread initiatives to reduce test anxiety at Chinese colleges. The results of my study theoretically contribute to the large body of research on the prevalence of anxiety among Chinese university students and how it affects their academic performance. As a result, theoretical groundwork and literature analysis may be used in future research in psychology, education, and related domains.
However, there are a few problems with research technique and methodologies that I can run into when doing the investigation. I will employ qualitative research methodologies, which will take a lot of time, thus I will concentrate on a modest sample size. I want to interview 10 subjects for my research. In contrast to the large number of Chinese university students who struggle with anxiety when taking significant examinations, this is a very small sample. I will get a thorough understanding of how these anxiety issues impact their academic performance, but generalizing the problem to the larger sample group may not be as accurate. As a result, I recommend making only limited use of my study to extrapolate the research’s conclusions to a larger group of Chinese university students. Additionally, by conducting qualitative semi-structured interviews, I must depend on respondents’ knowledge and accuracy. I may not be able to confirm the findings of the qualitative analysis as a consequence. However, I think that by choosing professors and students who have first-hand experience, I will be able to address this difficulty to some level.
Given my keen interest in educational psychology, I am enthusiastic and motivated to begin work on this study. My goal is to use the theories and ideas from this course in actual research settings and aid in the reduction of test anxiety, particularly among university students in China. The prevalence of test anxiety among Chinese students must be understood by students, instructors, and other educational stakeholders in order to find effective solutions to the issue. Through my initiative, I am enthusiastic about helping to eliminate these problems. In the process, I think I’ll develop more expertise in the research techniques used in educational psychology, which I may use in future work.
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