Effects of Systematic Desensitisation (SD) Therapy on the Reduction of Test Anxiety among Adolescents in Nigerian Schools

By Egbochuku, E. O.; Obodo, B. O. | Journal of Instructional Psychology, December 2005 | Go to article overview

Effects of Systematic Desensitisation (SD) Therapy on the Reduction of Test Anxiety among Adolescents in Nigerian Schools


Egbochuku, E. O., Obodo, B. O., Journal of Instructional Psychology


This study investigated the effect of Systematic Desensitisation (SD) therapy on the reduction of test anxiety on some identified test anxious students. In addition, three secondary independent variables were studied along. These were entry test anxiety level, sex, and locus of control. A 2 x 2 x 2 way factorial design was employed. SD was found effective in the reduction of test anxiety of the students who were test anxious F-ratio = 9.261 with df (1,74). Entry test anxiety level of subjects was found to be significant on the level of reduction of test anxiety students F = 27.458 with df (1,74). Sex had no significant effect on the reduction of test anxiety of students F = 0.079 with df of (1, 74) and p > 0.05. There was no significant interaction effect of therapy and secondary independent variables. However, there was a significant interaction effect of entry test anxiety level and therapy at the end of treatment. Since SD has been found to be effective in the reduction of test anxiety among adolescents in Nigerian schools; it is recommended that this therapy be used in the treatment of test anxiety. It should be noted that before the treatment of test anxiety, the entry test anxiety level of subjects must be considered so as to set a baseline for the therapy.

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In recent times, stakeholders are worried about the falling standard of education in Nigeria. The media have equally raised alarm about examination malpractices as well as other educational ills in the nation's schools. Comments and seminars have equally been taken on this issue. The pros and cons of these educational vices have been analysed in time past and are still being analysed today. While most people tend to focus attention on the educational system itself, some blame it on the teachers and the teaching methods, while others still blame it on the inability of the students to read and comprehend what have been taught (Adedipe, 1984; Okoye, 1986; and Amameze, 1992).

In addition, there could be the problem of emotional maladjustment, which seems to be plaguing the adolescents as a result of the sensitivity in the developmental stage. There is the inherent fear and anxiety resulting from high expectations from parents, peer group identification problems, paper qualification expectations, and adjustment in terms of sexual role. In order to meet up with these expectations, these adolescents could be caught in the grip of fears and anxieties. These situations, when applied to testing, may not make for high academic performance. For as long as the classroom situation does not provide for the emotionally maladjusted adolescent, classroom activities such as assignments, projects, class works and tests may not be done properly. Studies have pointed to the fact that lessons are taught with less concern for the emotionally maladjusted, leaving no room for improvement on their situations (Egbochuku, 1998). Lack of concern could result in frustration, which may lead to fear and anxiety. These adolescents, while still groping in the grip of fear and anxiety, could find themselves in the test and/or examination halls where they are expected to impress their teachers and parents in particular their worth academically. Performance under such conditions could be impaired.

Fear and anxiety are emotional problems, which if not attended to could be carried over to examination situation and researches have shown that this could result in neurotic difficulties (Adeola, 1987). Fear and anxiety, in most cases, result in frustration and this is capable of affecting the totality of the individual as well as his/her personality. It has also been noticed that most adolescents who are plagued by this social vice, may not have been exposed to appropriate counselling therapies. This is due to the fact that most schools do not employ the service of a guidance counsellor with the appropriate training and skills to manage such social vices. …

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