Anxiety is described as a human emotion that is highly pervasive. It is a universal emotion that affects individuals, especially when they feel threatened and their self-esteem. Anxiety has become a challenge for most people since it blocks the normal thought process and has a more passive approach to the material as compared to interacting with it. Students have been affected most, especially when undertaking exams. A very close relationship exists between students’ performances, especially those practicing distance learning. Distance learners fail due to high expectations of themselves and fear of failure. They may have had encounters where they underperformed before and automatically assume that they will experience a similar disempowering learning environment as in previous schools. The traditional classroom setup assesses the student’s attitudes, making it easier to notice areas requiring attention. This paper aims to analyze different factors that lead to anxiety and how they affects distance learners.
A study adopting a descriptive research design was conducted to see how anxiety affects students in distance learning. Three hundred twenty-two students (190 females and 132 males) from Allama Iqbal University participated in the study. This population comprised students enrolled in the M.Ed program at the regional campus in 2017 (Ajmal & Ahmad, 2019). Data was collected using a developed questionnaire based on a five-point Likert rating scale. Before the full-scale administration, the instrument had to undergo pilot testing to determine its reliability and validity. The data analyses use both inferential and descriptive statistical techniques. Mean scores were calculated for students’ performance and factors related to anxiety.
The results obtained offered a comprehensive insight into the relationship that exists between anxiety and student performance. There was also a clear difference in the anxiety levels of male students in comparison to female students. Factors such as assignment performance, exam performance, and class groupings were emphasized as leading causes of anxiety. A systematic investigating framework was provided through the methodological approach, which offered valuable insights into the challenges students face due to stress. Combining purposive sampling, questionnaires, and statistical solid analysis strengthened the study’s credibility and contributed to the understanding of anxiety dynamics.
Research participants in this study experienced anxiety due to issues experienced during admission, identifying a bank where they could pay their fees, the short time given to prepare for tasks and assignments, the lack of quality books and examinations, and the communication gap between the regional offices and learners, appraisal system, comprehension of assignments , poor feedback system and tutor remarks (Ajmal & Ahmad, 2019). Some of them were in more complicated situations since they were going to work while still learning; this caused anxiety when it came to balancing schedules both at school and at work. They were also unfortunate enough not to have any form of interaction with the other students; this meant that, at times, they would fail to get class updates.
A study was conducted to show if there is a relationship between task performance and anxiety. The results showed that as anxiety about schoolwork increased among students, there was an equivalent chance of students performing really poorly in school. Students tend to be unable to manage their work in a sober mind when stressed fully, and this is evident in their performance since, over time, there is a clear downward trajectory in their performance. The results worsen as the situation propels without finding help or the issue being identified by those in charge. Students in this situation often feel overwhelmed and feel as though they cannot deal with everything they are supposed to do on time and correctly. The observations made clearly show that there are levels of anxiety levels, and this highly determines how students perform in school over time. Findings also show that male students have experienced higher levels of anxiety as compared to female students.
The methodology in this study shows several limitations. The confinement of the students in Allama may not give an in-depth understanding of the matter. Distance students from other institutions should also have been considered to have a wide range of information to compare. There needs to be a broader diversity so that the findings have credibility. The purposive sampling also raises questions since it may illustrate selection bias since it does not ensure a random selection of the participants as per the target population. Relying on a developed questionnaire also opens up a potential for response bias since participants may be tempted to give socially acceptable answers or end up misinterpreting other aspects.
Even if pilot testing was conducted to test whether the instrument was valid, it does not eliminate other types of measurement error. This means there might have been errors recorded, even slight. In addition, the use of the Likert scale in rating might oversimplify the issue of anxiety, considering that it is very complex (Pandza & Masic, 2010). Reducing its numerical numbers, which may not fully show the exact way in which students have been affected in the full spectrum, tends to limit anxiety as a problem that needs attention. It would have also been essential to ensure that ethical considerations are observed in the entire process. This would ensure that the students understand that their information would be kept private and only be made public if they consented. Failure to communicate this could end up making the anxiety issue worse, especially for students who felt shy about people knowing some of their struggles. To conduct this step with integrity, signing forms would be a great way to learn how to handle each student’s case (Bin Mubayrik, 2020). Finally, the analysis uses scores and t-tests, which imply that the quantitative approach may have overshadowed the qualitative aspect of anxiety experiences among students. These limitations show a need to be cautious while generalizing and interpreting the findings.
As from the study conducted, with an aim to understand factors leading to anxiety, students in distance learning are more likely to experience anxiety due to the distance which makes it hard for them to express themselves to the instructors. The fact that these issues keep piling up on a daily basis while there is no one to open up to makes the situation even worse since anxiety builds up with time, hence becoming worse with time. It is concluded that the majority of students experienced anxiety as a result of issues encountered during admission, such as locating a bank to deposit fees, obtaining an admission prospectus, a lack of time given to prepare assignments, poor quality of books, minimal communication with tutors, poor feedback from tutors, a lack of communication with regional offices, receiving books, due dates of assignments, understanding of assignments, assessment and tutor remarks. Failure to interact with the other students also causes them to lag since they are not constantly updated on exam schedules, exam locations, and paper patterns by the rest of the students. All these are factors contributing to student anxiety amongst distance students and show why they end up performing poorly.
Ajmal, M., & Ahmad, S. (2019). Exploration of Anxiety Factors among Distance Learning Students: A Case Study of Allama Iqbal Open University. Bulletin of Education and Research, 41(2), 67-78.
Bin Mubayrik, H. F. (2020). Exploring adult learners’ viewpoints and motivation regarding distance learning in medical education. Advances in medical education and practice, 139-146.
Pandza, H., & Masic, I. (2010). Distance learning perspectives. Acta Informatica Medica, 18(4), 229.