Date of Award

Spring 5-17-2013

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Dr. Joel Meyers

Second Advisor

Dr. Don Davis

Third Advisor

Dr. Yali Zhao

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ann Kruger

Abstract

Test taking can produce elevated stress and anxiety, with subsequent negative influences on test performance. This has been a focus of prior research. However, only a few studies have explored how coping strategies and perceived social support affect relationships between academic stress, test anxiety, and test performance particularly in China. Therefore, this study investigated relationships among academic stress, test anxiety, coping strategies, perceived social support and test performance in a Chinese high school sample. Specifically, this study tested the moderating effects of coping strategies and perceived social support on the relationships between academic stress, test anxiety, and test performance. Four hundred and fifty Chinese high school students completed four surveys: 1) Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI; Spielberger et al., 1980) - Chinese Version, 2) Academic Stress Scale (ASS; Kohn & Frazer, 1986)-Chinese Version, 3) Simplified Coping Styles Questionnaire (SCSQ; Xie, 1998), and 4) A revised Chinese version of the Multi-dimensional Scale of Perceived Social Support (MSPSS; Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1998). Scores from the pre-National College Entrance Exam (pre-NCEE) were obtained from the school. Hierarchical multiple regressions indicated that academic stress was positively related to students’ test anxiety and negatively related to their academic test performance. Test anxiety had a negative relationship to test performance. While active coping was not found to moderate the relationships among academic stress, test anxiety, and academic performance, perceived parent support and perceived other support moderated the relationships between test anxiety and test performance as well as between academic stress and test anxiety. These moderation effects were in a different direction than predicted as there were stronger relationships between test anxiety and test performance, and between academic stress and test anxiety, when students reported higher levels of perceived parent support or other support. This study contributes to the research literature by exploring the integrative relationships among academic stress, test anxiety, test performance, coping strategies, and perceived social support. Findings of this study and related literature are considered for public policy and the design of training programs aimed at assisting Chinese high school students cope with academic stress and test anxiety.

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