Anxiety, Learning, and Instruction

Anxiety, Learning, and Instruction

Anxiety, Learning, and Instruction

Anxiety, Learning, and Instruction

Excerpt

Man's effort to escape anxiety is a major theme in human thought and experience. So pervasive is this unpleasant emotion in the lives of human beings that it would add little to this exposition to provide a common-sense definition of anxiety. We know from our own lives and from literature that persons experience a wide variety of diffuse negative emotions, some in connection with specific events such as test taking; and others that appear as fear and malaise without an object. What is needed here, however, before we proceed to more technical matters, is a brief discussion of major philosophical and scientific ideas about the nature of anxiety, so that the reader may see how the research reported has modified the conceptions of anxiety which originally stimulated the investigation. Existential philosophers have enriched our ideas about the nature of anxiety by providing vivid descriptions of its experiential aspects, but have dealt in concepts that are not of a scientific nature. Psychologists have measured anxiety and have theorized about its processes in ways that make it amenable to study, but which seem to some to overlook the essential role of anxiety in the human condition. What concepts about anxiety do these two disciplines hold in common? In what ways do they differ? Which of these ideas have been built upon in the research presented here?

As an introduction, a description of some major philosophical and scientific conceptions of anxiety is offered, followed by discussion of how the conception of anxiety in educationally relevant situations developed out of the more general conception of anxiety. Finally, the main concepts that emerge from this literature are summarized, and the ways in which our concept of anxiety relates to other conceptions of anxiety is outlined.

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