22 SES 11 D, Teaching and Learning: Students' Experiences
As a result of inevitable competition to have a qualified education, most of the educational process concludes with an assessment and evaluation. This leads to the administration of many tests and exams during students' secondary and post-secondary years which in turn results in high number of test anxious students. Cognitive test anxiety, as a new concept, is described as the beliefs which have a negative impact on the exam situations (Cassady & Finch, 2015) and carrying a high level of worry for test-taking events. The literature indicated a number of important variables that might have a relationship with test anxiety. Firstly, perfectionism cognitions, described as having high standards and the attempts to be perfect (Flett, Hewitt, Blankstein, & Gray, 1998) might be associated with test anxiety as the more individuals set high standards for themselves by having perfectionistic thoughts, the more they might have tendency to have high anxiety during exams (e.g. Eum & Rice, 2011). Similarly, Grant and Beck (2010) showed that high test anxious undergraduate student had the tendency to ruminate considering exam situation. Moreover, for test anxious students, using cognitive defusion interventions can reduce test anxiety since cognitive defusion will help taking committed action instead of being stuck in them. Masuda et al. (2010) mentioned that cognitive defusion might be a productive way for working with anxiety and negative thoughts. Another variable that can affect test anxiety might be self-forgiveness in which forgiving self for previous anxious evaluation cases might decrease test anxious thoughts for the future performance as Berry, Worthington, Parrott, O’Connor, and Wade (2001) showed that people who could forgive themselves carried less anxious thoughts.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) stands on the ground of achieving psychological flexibility which means experiencing emotions and behaviors as they are without any attempt to change them by being conscious in the present moment, defined values, acceptance, commitment, defusion and self as context (Hayes & Lillis, 2012). From the ACT perspective, it is suggested that dealing with test anxiety includes accepting and staying with the emotion in the present moment by observing one's self and willingness to take action according to values. This new perspective does not aim at avoiding emotions, but accepting emotions with all of its parts. The way of ACT is not to grab solutions to get rid of anxious feelings but to understand the emotions deeply. By increasing psychological flexibility, the individual opens the ways to experience the emotions because the attempt to escape from the emotion actually puts the feeling on the surface still. Brown et al. (2011) suggested that test anxiety should also be examined with the ACT perspective and there could be appropriate interventions of ACT for dealing with test anxiety. However, the current literature lacks research about test anxiety from the ACT perspective. Therefore, it will be a valuable contribution to extend the concept and it will be crucial to study the related factors of cognitive test anxiety, which will advance the literature on cognitive test anxiety in relation to a different theoretical perspective and in different cultures. In this regard the purpose of the present study was to test a model explaining the role of rumination, self-forgiveness, perfectionism cognitions and cognitive defusion in predicting cognitive test anxiety through the indirect effect of psychological flexibility. The research question asked through the study was: To what extent do rumination, self-forgiveness, perfectionism cognitions and cognitive defusion predict cognitive test anxiety through the indirect effect of psychological flexibility?
The study was based on correlational research design and structural equation modeling was utilized to examine the relationship between observed and latent variables. A total of 715 university students participated in the study. Among the participants, 351 (49.1 %) were female and 364 (50.9 %) were male. The age of participants changed between 17 to 27 with a mean of 18.57 (SD=1.02). Students were from five different faculties: 327 (45.7 %) of them were from faculty of engineering, 101 (14.1 %) were from faculty of economics and administrative sciences, 162 (22.7 %) were from faculty of arts and sciences, 78 (10.9 %) were from faculty of education and 47 (6.6 %) were from faculty of architecture. As data collection instruments, Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale-Revised (CTAR) (Cassady & Finch, 2015), State Self-Forgiveness Scale (SSFS) (Wohl et al., 2008), Perfectionism Cognitions Inventory (PCI) (Flett et al., 1998), Drexel Defusion Scale (DDS) (Forman et al., 2012), Ruminative Response Scale (RRS) (Treynor, Gonzalez, & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2003), Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II (AAQ-II) (Bond et al., 2011) and demographic information form were used. After taking necessary permission from Human Subjects Ethics Committee, the data were collected in paper-pencil format in classrooms through one-week period in spring semester. The application of all instruments took approximately 20 minutes.
After testing the measurement model, the structural model was tested by structural equation modeling. The results of the structural model showed that Satorra-Bentler χ² (215) = 915.23, p = .00; χ²/df- ratio = 4.25; RMSEA = .06; CFI = .98; NFI= .97; GFI = .90; SRMR = .06. The structural model indicated a good fit according to fit indices. The results indicated statistically significance of all paths except the path between self-forgiveness and cognitive test anxiety; regression coefficients ranging from .12 to .49. While the relationship between rumination-psychological inflexibility (r=.49, p<.01) and perfectionistic cognitions-psychological inflexibility (r=.12, p<.01) was positive; the relationship between the self-forgiveness-psychological inflexibility (r=-.13, p<.01) and cognitive defusion-psychological inflexibility (r=-.27, p<.01) was negative. Moreover, the relationship between psychological inflexibility-cognitive test anxiety was positive (r=.15, p<.01). Additionally, the relationships between rumination-cognitive test anxiety (r=.22), perfectionism cognitions-cognitive test anxiety (r=.18) and cognitive defusion-cognitive test anxiety (r=.21, p<.01) were all positive. As t value of the relationship between self-forgiveness and cognitive defusion (r=-.01, p>.01) was not significant, it was not a predictor of cognitive test anxiety. The results of analysis indicated that all direct effects from exogenous variables to mediator variable were statistically significant. For indirect effects, all relationships between exogenous and endogenous variable over the effect of mediator variable were statistically significant except for self-forgiveness. According to the squared multiple correlations for structural equations, rumination, perfectionism cognitions and cognitive defusion accounted for 36 % of variance in the cognitive test anxiety scores and rumination, self-forgiveness, perfectionism cognitions and cognitive defusion accounted for 63 % of variance in psychological flexibility scores. There were some limitations like generalizability of the results and self-report measurement.
Berry, J. W., Worthington, E. L., Parrott, L., O’Connor, L. E., & Wade, N. G. (2001). Dispositional forgivingness: Development and construct validity of the Transgression Narrative Test of Forgivingness (TNTF). Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 27(10), 1277–1290. doi:10.1177/01461672012710004 Bond, F. W., Hayes, S. C., Baer, R. A., Carpenter, K. M., Guenole, N., Orcutt, H. K., … Zettle, R. D. (2011). Preliminary psychometric properties of the Acceptance and Action Questionniare-II: A revised measure of psychological flexibility and experiential avoidance. Behavior Therapy, 42, 676–688 Brown, L. A., Forman, E. M., Herbert, J. D., Hoffman, K. L., Yuen, E. K., & Goetter, E. M. (2011). A randomized controlled trial of acceptance-based behavior therapy and cognitive therapy for test anxiety: A pilot study. Behavior Modification, 35(1), 31–53. doi:10.1177/0145445510390930 Cassady, J. C., & Finch, W. H. (2015). Using factor mixture modeling to identify dimensions of cognitive test anxiety. Learning and Individual Differences, 41, 14–20. doi:10.1016/j.lindif.2015.06.002 Eum, K., & Rice, K. G. (2011). Test anxiety, perfectionism, goal orientation, and academic performance. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 24(2), 167–178. doi:10.1080/10615806.2010.488723 Flett, G. L., Hewitt, P. L., Blankstein, K. R., & Gray, L. (1998). Psychological distress and the frequency of perfectionistic thinking. Journal of Personality and Pocial Psychology, 75(5), 1363–1381. doi:10.1037/0022-3518.104.22.1683 Forman, E. M., Herbert, J. D., Juarascio, A. S., Yeomans, P. D., Zebell, J. A., Goetter, E. M., & Moitra, E. (2012). The Drexel Defusion Scale: A new measure of experiential distancing. Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, 1(1–2), 55–65. doi:10.1016/j.jcbs.2012.09.001 Grant, D. M., & Beck, J. G. (2010). What predicts the trajectory of rumination?: A prospective evaluation. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 24(5), 480–6. doi:10.1016/j.janxdis.2010.03.004 Hayes, S. C., & Lillis, J. (2012). Acceptance and commitment therapy: Theories of psychotherapy series. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Masuda, A., Twohig, M. P., Stormo, A. R., Feinstein, A. B., Chou, Y.-Y., & Wendell, J. W. (2010). The effects of cognitive defusion and thought distraction on emotional discomfort and believability of negative self-referential thoughts. Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 41(1), 11–17. doi:10.1016/j.jbtep.2009.08.006 Treynor, W., Gonzalez, R., & Nolen-Hoeksema, S. (2003). Rumination reconsidered: A psychometric analysis. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 27(3), 247–259. doi:10.1023/A:1023910315561 Wohl, M. J. A., Deshea, L., & Wahkinney, R. L. (2008). Looking within: Measuring state self-forgiveness and its relationship to psychological well-being. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 40(1), 1–10.
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