Sources and effects of anxiety on academic performance among grade seven pupis : a case of Luanshya district

Thumbnail Image
Sampa, Peter Chanda
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The seventh grade is one of the most important grades in the Zambian education system. It is at this grade that all pupils who have continued with primary school sit for their first national examinations whose results are used to select them to grade eight, either at a basic or high school. Government, teachers, and parents are all concerned about the performance of pupils at this grade. The seventh grade therefore, has high publicity and attracts attention of all stakeholders. Pupils are expected to work very hard for them to be selected to grade eight. Therefore, some grade seven pupils find the grade, the learning environment, and other activities associated with school as being stressful, challenging, and anxiety arousing. They tend to experience prolonged and disabling anxiety, which affects their academic performance. Anxiety has been defined as an emotional response characterised by apprehension, tension, physiological arousal and restlessness, which has an effect on performance. It has been observed that high and low levels of anxiety affect academic performance of pupils, while moderate levels of anxiety provides drive energy that pupils can utilize to enhance their academic performance. The study examined the sources and effects of anxiety among grade seven pupils in Luanshya District. A randomly selected sample of 200 pupils drawn from 10 primary schools in Luanshya participated in the study. The study also collected information from 50 serving teachers from the same schools. The main instruments used in the study were the pupils'questionnaire and the teachers' questionnaire. The pupils' questionnaire was used to provide information on the sources of anxiety. The teachers' questionnaire was used to find out the effects of anxiety on pupils' academic performance. It was found that anxiety was pervasive among grade seven pupils and that it affected their academic performance. The findings showed that anxiety among grade seven pupils was elicited by external stimuli found in the school environment. The main sources of anxiety among pupils revolved around the three following categories: threats to the self-esteem needs, security needs, and social or affiliation needs, which were usually not addressed in schools in Zambia. Sources of anxiety in the self-esteem category included: knowledge about leaked examination papers, fear to present in class because other pupils would laugh at them, fear of speaking in class, worry about grades or marks, worry about not being selected to grade eight, and finding difficult to solve mathematics questions. In the security category, the following were the sources of anxiety: fear when teachers go on strike, covering long distances to and from school, meeting with the head teachers, and fear of bullies at school. The social or affiliation needs category- comprised fear of being rejected by friends as a source of anxiety among pupils. Most importantly, the study identified that knowledge about leaked examination papers and teachers'strikes were important sources of anxiety among pupils, but only peculiar to Zambia. It was also observed that girls had more sources of anxiety than boys. This could be attributed to the cultural background, which conditions girls to be dependant, unlike boys who are taught to be independent and to persevere in difficult situations. The study also revealed that anxiety had negative impact on pupils' academic performance. The impact of anxiety was seen in the pupils' inability to concentrate in class. They also adopted maladaptive behaviour such as absconding from school. It was noted that anxiety affected both the cognitive functioning and behavioural responses, which are important in academic performance. The findings of the study were in agreement with the theoretical framework grounded on the cognitive-behavioural theory, which stresses that anxiety is associated with lack of concentration and leads to maladaptive responses.
Anxiety--Zambia , Education-- Selfesteem--Zambia