Developing a Writing Anxiety Scale and Examining Writing Anxiety Based on Various Variables

Article excerpt

Abstract

There are two main aims of this research. The primary aim is to develop a reliable and valid anxiety scale to determine writing anxiety levels of prospective teachers. The secondary aim is to determine what variables explain anxiety levels of students to what extent, by determining whether writing anxiety levels of prospective teachers significantly varied in terms of various variables. The study consisted of 202 junior students from Departments of Classroom Teaching, Elementary School Mathematics Teaching and Turkish Language Teaching at a Turkish university in the spring term of 2008-2009 academic year. The data were collected using Writing Anxiety Scale which was developed by the authors to measure writing anxiety levels of students and personal forms to describe personal traits of the students. The data were analyzed by SPSS 13.00 and LISREL 8.70 package programs. As a result of the exploratory factor analysis, it was found out that there was a single dimension. Besides, 49% of the total variance in the 35-item-scale was measuring was explained by the scale items. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to confirm the construct obtained by exploratory factor analysis. There were not statistically significant correlations between writing anxiety levels of university students and gender and educational background of parents. As a result of stepwise regression analysis, used to determine the predictive variables of writing anxiety levels in terms of personal traits, it was seen that out-of-school writing practice, in-class writing activities by 1-8 grade teachers, amount of time spent watching television, and gender were significant predictive variables and those variables explained only 9.5% of writing anxiety

Key Words

Writing Anxiety, Regression Analysis, Confirmatory Factor Analysis.

Reading and writing skills in mother tongue are learned beyond acquisition. As these two skills have many things in common, it seems sensible to suggest these skills develop parallel to each other and affect one another positively or negatively. However, individuals gain reading skills in academic life followed by effective written text production skills, yet it is known that many students cannot gain effective written text production skills (Enginarlar, 1994; Huber & Uzun, 2001; Ruhi, 1994). This case might be mainly caused by the fact that written text production is complex by nature and requires plenty of cognitive procedures (Grabe & Kaplan, 1996). Related studies make a reference to the fact that writing anxiety occurs because of language complexity in general and complexity of writing as a skill in particular (Balemir, 2009; Bruning & Horn, 2000; Schweiker-Marra & Marra, 2000).Thus, it will be a great mistake to assume writing process is only cognitive. In other words, the effect of anxiety as an affective property in writing process must not be ignored. Because, according to Cheng, Horwitz and Schallert (1999), there is a relationship between foreign language classroom anxiety and foreign language writing anxiety

Students with writing anxiety find all the stages of writing process extremely demanding and challenging. In addition, they feel anxious about the perception of the outcome of writing process. Hence, such an anxiety appears to be the fear of negative evaluation (Madigan, Linton, & Johnson, 1996). Some factors, such as classroom, teacher, exam, and personality traits, lead to anxiety (Young, 1991). As a result, anxiety adversely affects written text production. Many studies in the literature have also noted that (Daly, 1977, 1978; Faigley, Daly, & Witte, 1981; Hurd, 1985; Veit, 1980). Therefore, anxiety is a critical and decisive notion in language learning process and writing process.

The aim of studies on writing anxiety is to measure writing anxiety in second language learning and writing anxiety in mother tongue. For instance, Writing Apprehension Test, WAT, developed by Daly and Miller, is frequently used to measure writing anxiety. …