Anxiety in the Classroom
Imagine that you are enrolled in Professor Josiah S. Carberry’s course in advanced psychoceramics. Today is your day to give a half-hour presentation on the topic of psychoceramic califractions. You have read several books and numerous articles on your topic and undoubtedly know more about psychoceramic califractions than any of your classmates. Furthermore, you have meticulously prepared a set of note cards to which you can refer during your presentation. As you sit in class waiting for your turn to speak, you should be feeling calm and confident. But instead you’re a nervous wreck: Your heart is pounding wildly, your palms are sweaty, and your stomach is in a knot. When Professor Carberry calls you to the front of the room and you begin to speak, you have trouble remembering what you wanted to say, and you can’t read your note cards because your hands are shaking so much.
It’s not as if you want to be nervous about speaking in front of your psychoceramics class. Moreover, you can’t think of a single reason that you should be nervous. After all, you’re an expert on your topic, you’re not having a bad-hair day, and your classmates are not the type to giggle or throw rotten tomatoes if you make a mistake. So what’s the big deal? What happened to the self-assured student who was practicing in front of the mirror last night?
You are a victim of anxiety. You have a feeling of uneasiness and apprehension about an event because you’re not sure what its outcome will be. This feeling can be accompanied by a variety of physiological symptoms, including a rapid heartbeat, increased perspiration, and muscular tension. Anxiety is similar to fear in the sense that both involve fairly high levels of arousal. But the two emotions are different in one important respect: Although we are usually afraid of something in particular (a roaring lion, an intense electrical storm, or the bogeyman under the bed), we usually don’t know exactly why we’re anxious (Lazarus, 1991). And it’s difficult to deal with anxiety when we can’t pinpoint its cause.
Almost everyone is anxious at one time or another. Many students become anxious just before a test that they know will be difficult, and most get nervous when they have to give a prepared speech in front of their peers. Such temporary feelings of anxiety are instances of state anxiety. However, some students are anxious a good part of the time, even when the situation is not especially dangerous or threatening. For example, some students get excessively nervous even before very easy exams, and others may be so anxious about mathematics that they can’t concentrate on the simplest math assignment. A learner who shows a pattern of responding with anxiety even in nonthreatening situations has a case of trait anxiety, a chronic condition that often interferes with maximal performance.
© ______ 2008, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- GED Math Practice Test 1