EFFECTIVENESS OF RATIONAL EMOTIVE BEHAVIOUR AND COGNITIVE BEHAVIOURAL THERAPIES IN REDUCING EXAMINATION ANXIETY AMONG SENIOR SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS IN EDO STATE

ABSTRACT
This study investigated the effectiveness of Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy (REBT) and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) in reducing examination anxiety of senior secondary school students in Edo State using a pre-test–post-test, control group quasi-experimental study design. A total of 1,193 senior secondary school students in three public schools sampled were pretested. The test inventory scale by Spielberger was used as investigation tool. Students with scores ≥51 were considered to be test anxious. 248 students were test anxious. The test anxious students in each school formed an intact group. The intact groups were assigned to different experimental groups by simple random sampling. The two treatment groups (Experimental groups I & II) were exposed to seven weeks training in REBT and CBT respectively while participants in the control group received health education as placebo treatment. Four hypotheses were tested at 0.05 level of significance. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics, percentage, mean and ANCOVA. The effect of therapy was significant at 0.05 alpha level (F=2, 220) = 54.66, P=.000 with an effective size of .332, that is 33% of the variance in the dependent variable (post-test anxiety scores is explained by therapy). REBT was more effective than placebo-control (P=0.000, significant mean difference of 17.498 at 0.05). CBT was also more effective than placebo control (P=.000, significant mean difference of 16.824 at 0.05). There was no relative effectiveness of one therapy over the other (REBT versus CBT) (P=.747, mean difference of .674 non-significant). There was no significant 2-way interaction between therapy and age, and therapy and gender (F=2.358), P=0.06 and (F=1.573); P=0.210 respectively. 3-way interaction among therapy, gender and age was significant (F=3.413), P=0.010. Age and gender combined influenced the success of therapy in reducing examination anxiety. It is therefore recommended that school counselling psychologist could adopt REBT or CBT therapies to manage examination anxiety in senior secondary school students.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study

            The world has become a test conscious environment and a test giving culture in which the lives of people are in part determined by their test performance. Test or examination at every educational level has become a global strategy for decision making about people at all ages and all strata (Akinsola&Nwajei,2013). All over the world people are evaluated in terms of their skills, abilities and achievement and such evaluation are determined by their performance in examination (Rana & Mahmood, 2010).
          Examination, the word that all students are familiar with, and some of them are worried on hearing its name  is a central built debated tool in formal education that is used to determine whether a student has successfully understood the taught material (Leach, Neutge & Zepk, 2001).In the Nigeria educational systemexamination  indicates that assessment of students work is and remains a crucial point in teaching.  In order to come out with an objective assessment in their work, stakeholders in education use numerous methods and instruments of which one is examinationPeople are conscious that it has become an inherent part of our society as it takes a central position as a means of assessment for qualification in various dimensions. It is based on performance for which certificates are awarded and it has become more extensive not only in education but in every sphere of life. 
         Many important decisions are specifically based on test. Society is focused on the benefits of education, people have claimed that education is the key to a happier life, better job, and success and as such examination has become a reflection of the quality of education as well as students` level of social, behavioural and academic wellbeing. However, the increased value of examination has not come without repercussions. The lives of students can be greatly affected by their performance in examination as increased importance is placed on it, this might however, trigger intense emotion referred to as ‘anxiety (Pekrun, Goetz, Perry, Kramer, Hochstadth & Molfenler, 2004).
            Anxiety as an emotional state of human life, is both life-saving and causes many problems in the mental life of human beings. Humans will always express inner struggles with different words, moods, feelings and emotions. Therefore, in terms of internal struggles, they use expressions such as frustration, fear or worry which is referred to as anxiety (Biabangard, 2007).          
            According to Rachman (2004), anxiety is a phenomenon that people frequently encounter in their daily lives; it can be described as the tense, unsettling anticipation of a threatening but vague event; a feeling of uneasy suspense. As a result of the nature of anxiety, researchers have provided a classification of this phenomenon into different categories (examples: language anxiety, speech anxiety, and examination anxiety). Speilberger & Vagg, 1995 as cited by Akinsola & Nwajei (2013) regarded test anxiety as a situation specific or a state anxiety which is a temporary emotional state. This is different from trait anxiety which is a constant personality characteristic. Test anxious students are more prone to react with excessive anxiety such as wrong, negative thoughts, nervousness and physiological arousal across testing situations. This proneness predisposes them to experiencing more intense levels of state anxiety which is considered as the emotional component of test anxiety in evaluative situations. The high level of state anxiety among test anxious people activates worry conditions stored up in memory and these conditions interfere with test performance.
Students in secondary schools are not left out, the experience of being in secondary school (between ages 10 to 18 years) brings with it several life changes and challenges, as this is the period which spans the time between the onset of puberty and the onset of adulthood, known as the adolescent stage. Area of change within  this phase of life is  physiological transformations due to the onset of puberty and psychosocial developments in terms  of establishing self-identity and relationship with peers and cognitive development, in terms of their ability to think abstractly and to solve hypothetical problems. For some students these changes may present particular problems. For example, fulfilling social role expectation of the age groups, such as completion of formal schooling and making important life decisions about future career. Anxiety during this period has been strongly associated with mal-adaptive problems such as substance abuse (Rich, Sherman & Fowler, 1990), eating disorders (Soukup, Beiler & Terrel, 1990), psychosomatic complaints (Gerritsma, 1991), suicide behaviour (Connell & Meyer, 1991) and examination anxiety (Comunian, 1993).
            Examination anxiety is a combination of perceived physiological over-arousal, feelings of worry and dread, self-depreciating thoughts, tension and somatic symptoms that occurs before, during and after examination situations. It is a physiological condition in which students experience extreme stress and discomfort during and, or before taking  examination. Examination anxiety is a sub type of anxiety disorder, affecting many students irrespective of race, gender, age, class and socio-economic background. It is a common educational problem, referring to a situation when students will not feel confident about their abilities, which are reflected especially in their performance. It is known to develop into a vicious cycle, after experiencing test anxiety, students may become so fearful, anxious and upset than they would normally had been. If the cycle continues without the students acknowledging or seeking help, the students may begin to feel helpless in examination situations.These responses can drastically hinder student's ability to perform well and negatively affect their social, emotionalbehavioural and academic development of themselves and school.
            To Ikebuna (2013) examination anxiety is prevalent amongst student’s populations of the world and is more evident in the developing countries where the learning environment is poor and learning facilities are almost non-existent.  Currently, it is rather challenging to estimate the number of students who are faced with test anxiety because of the lack of a large-scale epidemiological study. Previous studies like Nottelmann & Hill (1997) have reported an anxiety rate of 10% to 25% or 30% among elementary and secondary school students, although more recently, the anxiety rates were found to be much higher than 33% among school children and adolescents affected as reported by Whitaker, Lowe & Lee, (2007), and lately the approximation of 40% have been mentioned by Huberty & Dick (2009); Cassady, (2010) and Salend, (2011).
           It is associated with substantial negative effects on students'social, behavioural, emotional and academic success (Essau, Conradt & Peterman, 2000). Specific effects include poor social and coping skills, often leading to avoidance of social interaction, loneliness, low self-esteem, perception of social rejection, peer popularity, depression, and attention deficits. Importantly, school avoidance, decreased problem-solving abilities and lower academic-achievements are also noted as effects of examination anxiety.
            Students experiencing examination anxiety are excessively concerned with embarrassment or consequences of poor performance. Thus, they seek to avoid performance or evaluative situations or endure those situations with intense distress. Inspite of these fears, one of the most enduring components of education process is evaluation which allows an assessment of students' comprehension of materials in their courses of study. Although, different methods of evaluation are utilized, examinations or tests are the most commonly employed method (Jordan, Gurr, Tinline, Giga, Faragher & Cooper, 2003). 
            It is true that everyone feels a little nervous and stressed before any examination. Bufka & Balow (2009) reiterate that moderate amount of anxiety is normal and even beneficial as it can motivate people to prepare for an upcoming event and can help keep them focused on the task ahead while too much anxiety can cause problems especially social maladjustment.
             In the area of counselling psychology there are numerous counselling therapies to enhance adaptive behaviours. These therapies are developed by psychologists and are geared towards the elimination of maladaptive behaviours such as fear, avoidant disorder, agoraphobia disorder, social phobia, neurosis, personality disorder, depression, anti-social behaviour, post-traumatic stress disorder, sexual abuse recovery, drug abuse, obsessive-compulsive disorder, eating disorder, autism, bipolar, acute stress disorder, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder, pain management, anger and stress management and many medical conditions with psychological components. To reduce these maladaptive problems, series of treatment options are also available including exposure therapy, self-statement monitoring technique, systematic desensitization (SD), flooding, aversion therapy, modelling skills, solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT) stress-inoculation skills, Person-centred therapy, skill-deficit method, among others. Callin, Hoffman & Weghorst (2008) state that one or a combination of these may be recommended according to the situation and intensity. However, of particular interest to this study is the effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) in reducing examination anxiety.
            Rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) is both a psychotherapeutic system of  theory and  practice and a school of thought established by Albert Ellis (1962). Rational emotive behaviour theory posits that people’s beliefs strongly affect their emotional functioning. In particular, certain irrational beliefs made people feel depressed, anxious or angry and lead to self-defeating behaviour. The word ׳belief׳ means a conviction in the truth, actuality or validity of something. So a belief is a thought with an emotional component (conviction) and a factual component (truth, actuality or validity). Beliefs can be either positive or negative. Having a negative belief is not a bad thing; however, when one belief in something that is false, a negative belief tends to become what Ellis called an irrational belief. Irrational beliefs are not friendly to wellbeing and are definitely unhelpful for getting ones’ basic desire, approval, comfort and achievement.
            Cognitive therapy (CT) or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) was  developed for the treatment of psychological problems and psychiatric disorders (Fiore, 2003). Its emphasis is on the effects of thoughts on behaviour and behaviour change techniques. Cognitive therapy helps check and correct distorted and useless thoughts, causing emotional distress and turmoil Rost & Schermer (2001)Putwain, Connors & Symes (2010) explained that one of the most effective ways to reduce anxiety disorders may be through cognitive behavioural therapy. In practice, the fundamental assumption of cognitive approaches is that cognitive behavioural therapy affects the emotions and behaviours. In addition, it is believed that more people respond to cognitive representations of events, cognitive-behavioural counselling, focuses on reducing effects in beliefs and inconsistent or inefficient feedbacks.
 Age and gender are variables which have been suggested to be associated with treatment outcome. Age in education, is a level of development equivalent to that of an average person of a particular age. As already noted, the variable of age in combination with biological, cognitive, affective and psychological dimensions upon students’ examination anxiety seems to be one of the main factors determining students’ examination anxiety. It has been mentioned to be associated with treatment outcomes. However, whether older or younger age is likely to be associated with enhanced outcomes is unclear, while Haig (2004) and Ann-Maree (2004) see gender as a range of physical, mental and behaviour characteristics distinguishing between masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, the term may refer to biological sex. Gender is therefore the expectations we have for people’s attitudes and behaviours on life based on the biological sex and influence by culture. Gender has been referred to as the socially learned behaviours and expectations associated with being a female or a male. Gender limits and binds students to these definitions without taking cognizance of other issues that may be affecting the students.
            No doubt examination presents some measure of inevitable stress unfortunately the anxious student often misconstrues this as synonymous with the prevailing view on education. Most students in senior secondary schools in Nigeria are daily confronted with challenges of coping with their academic activities under serious emotional stress occasioned by test anxiety, and as long as teaching-learning process in the school system does not provide for the emotional adjustment of students, examination anxiety if not attended to can hinder students educational progress.
            This study applied rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy as  possible  treatment techniques in reducing examination anxiety among senior secondary school students in Edo State. These therapies were selected in this study based on the philosophical under pinning of REBT and CBT, that is thoughts, feelings, and behaviours interact and significantly affect each other. Thinking affects, and in some ways creates, an individual’s feelings and behaviours; emotions have a very important effect on thoughts, feelings and actions, if one of these processes is somehow altered the others are influenced as well.

Statement of the Problem
            The modern education system heavily utilizes test as the main means of assessment, evaluation and comparison. This, however, causes some students to be very distressed by the negative experience of test taking that they are not able to reach their potentials. The entire examination experience for these students becomes excruciatingly painful, with their self-esteem and motivation put under threat. Students who repeatedly experience test failures or low test performance despite putting in much effort commonly feel shame and incompetence (Rothman, 2004).
            Examination anxiety is an overwhelming problem for many students. Its effects diminish test performance, lower self-confidence, increase negative self-talk and can cause physiological disturbances. Statistically it has been determined that as many as 10 million students in elementary and secondary schools perform poorly in examination due to anxiety. This translates to approximately 20% of school children and 25% of college students having debilitating performance on test anxiety without regards to gender (Fiore, 2003).
            Internationally, a 2.4% over all prevalence rate of examination anxiety has been estimated as the most powerful obstacle to learning in an educational setting. Understanding students' emotional experiences during the testing process in particular test anxiety has long been a prime concern for researchers, educators and counsellors as test anxiety may have deleterious impact on test performance, academic success and overall wellbeing (Bonacclo & Reeve, 2010).
            Poor performance arises not because of intellectual problems or poor academic preparation, but testing situations create a sense of threat for those experiencing examination anxietyconsequently forcing students to pursue careers which may not satisfy their future aspirations (Okoiye & Ajibola, 2011).
            Examination anxiety in most cases results in frustration, which is capable of affecting the totality of the students. It has been noticed that most students plagued by this social vice may not have been exposed to appropriate counselling therapies due to the fact that most schools do not employ the services of a professional guidance counsellor (McNamara, 2000). Scholars like Hong & Karstensaon (2002) have found a negative correlation between test anxiety and students’ performance. They believed that a high level of anxiety creates intrusive thoughts which do not associate with test and do not let students concentrate in the testing process.
            Matthew, Tracy & Scott (2000) posit that examination anxiety is a serious problem for many students. It has been described as the most powerful obstacle to learning in an educational setting. Hence examination anxious students in Nigeria are often overwhelmed by the feeling of inadequacy and distress when they are faced with new demands of their studies. Once they loose confidence in their abilities, it becomes easy for them to give up, be withdrawn, and develop irrational doubt, inferiority complex, and deviant behaviour, acts of truancy, experience hopelessness and helplessness.
            In the study by Egbadon (2014), sex, age and school type differences in experience of examination anxiety among secondary school students established gender disparity level of students over the years, test anxiety level of female students is still high. This suggests that the available therapeutic devices for test anxiety reduction have not been able to resolve this gender disparity in anxiety manifestation. Looking at literature on gender issues and anxiety, it is obvious that it is inconclusive, thus, it becomes justifiable to investigate gender sensitivity on the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy and rational emotive behaviour therapy in reducing examination anxiety among senior secondary school students.
             Fear of evaluation, delinquency, social failure, depression, suicide, shame, aggression, low-motivation, negative self-evaluation and low concentration as well as an increase in school dropout rate. Other negative connotations include low self-esteem, reading difficulties and failing scores, disruptive classroom behaviour, negative thoughts about the school, feelings of unease and fear as well as memory interruption, particularly concerning phonological processing are many problems that has been linked to students experiencing examination anxiety (Keogh & French, 2001; Peleg, 2009).
            The experience of test anxiety also slows down the mind by suppressing clear thoughts and confusing it so that the problem solving process becomes more complex. Additionally, test anxiety causes detrimental effects to some somatic processes which can lead to tachycardia, sweating, muscle tension and can also affect respiration. Aysan, Thompson & Hamarat (2001) asserted that stress felt from the test can have a negative physiological effects to the body like hypertension, coronary heart disease, respiratory distress syndrome and suppressed immune system functioning.
          The situation whereby most students always experience examination anxiety especially when they are about to write examination needs to be addressed in order to prevent its negative effects on student’s quality of life, whether it is psychological, emotional. Physical or academic, examination anxiety, if not addressed can lead to neurotic difficulties, it stands to reason therefore, that examination anxiety is an issue that needs attention.
          Researchers like Egbochuku & Obodo (2005); Gregor (2005); Egbochuku, Obodo & Obadan (2008), Yahar & Cohen (2009) and Akinsola & Nwajei (2013), had conducted studies on the effectiveness of treatment therapies in reducing examination anxiety among children and adolescent, no study known to this researcher have investigated the effectiveness of REBT and CBT in reducing examination anxiety among students in Edo State. This study is intended to fill this gap, by investigating the effectiveness of rational emotive beha           viour and cognitive behavioural therapies in reducing examination anxiety among secondary school students in Edo State; investigating the relative effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour and cognitive behavioural therapies and to determine the interactive effects of gender and age on REBT and CBT treatment therapies.

Purpose of the Study
            The  purpose of  the study is to determine the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) in reducing examination anxiety among secondary school students in Edo State.
            Specifically, the purpose of the study is
        i.            determine the effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) as a method for reducing examination anxiety among secondary school students;
      ii.            determine the effectiveness of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), as a treatment measure in reducing examination anxiety among secondary school students;
    iii.            compare the effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy in reducing examination anxiety among secondary school students;
    iv.            determine the interactive effects of gender and age on REBT treatment therapy; and to
      v.            determine the interactive effects of gender and age on CBT treatment therapy.

Research Questions
            The present study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of rational emotive behavioural therapy (REBT) and cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) in reducing examination anxiety among senior secondary students. In order to define its goals, four research questions and four hypotheses were raised.
1        Do the mean examination anxiety pretest and post test scores of students differ between CBT and REBT therapies as measured by TAI?
2        Is there any interaction effect of gender on the post-test scores of students treated with REBT and CBT?
3        Is there any interaction effect of age on the post-test scores of students treated with REBT and CBT?
4        Is there any interaction effects of gender and age on the post-test scores of students treated with REBT and CBT?

Research Hypotheses
  1. There is no significant effect of therapies (CBT and REBT,) on students’ pre-test and post test scores in examination anxiety as measured by TAI.
  2. There is no significant interaction effect of gender on the post-test scores of students treated with REBT and CBT.
  3. There is no significant interaction effect of age on the post-test-test scores of students treated with REBT and CBT.
  4. There is no significant interaction effects of gender and age on the post- test scores of students treated REBT and CBT.
Significance of the Study
            The results of this study would be beneficial to stakeholders in the educational system such as guidance counsellors, school principals, teachers, parents, students, government, and researchers in the following ways:
        The results of this study would increase school counsellors׳ knowledge on the effective therapies for counselling their students who are over anxious in evaluative process as counsellors would become aware that rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy can be used to reduce examination anxiety of secondary school students. The findings of the study would also provide information to school counsellors on gender preference of rational emotive behaviour therapy (REBT) or cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for proper implementation in single or mixed school as the case may be.
            The findings of this study would enable school principals to appreciate the presence of school counsellors in their schools by allowing the school guidance counsellor posted to their schools to provide counselling services for students by acquainting them with available counselling services and programmes that would be helpful to them, rather than changing the job description of professional counsellors in their schools. This would bridge the gap between the principals, classroom teachers and school counsellors.
           The findings of this study would expose classroom teachers to the negative effects of examination anxiety, this would help teachers design changes in procedure for testing that would play a major role in developing and implementing classroom teaching programmes that would deal with test-taking skills and test motivation.
            The findings of this research would also be beneficial to parents.   Educating them on the fact that their role as parents is to support their children with incentives that will encourage them and the need to provide conducive environment for their learning, one devoid of distraction and anxiety inducers and also inform parents of the danger of setting excessive high standards for their children.
            Furthermore, the findings of this study would provide information to students on examination anxiety, its effects and various intervention therapies. It would help to create awareness and sensitize students on the adverse effects that examination anxiety can have on them this would give students the needed encouragement to seek help when the need arises.
            The findings of this study would be beneficial to the Ministry of Education as a government agency. Results obtained can be used to develop educational programmes in collaboration with the home, educational institutions, non-government organisation and other educational bodies to develop and implement programmes that would reduce the consequences of examination anxiety among secondary school students in Nigeria.
            Finally, It is hoped that the results of this study would be of help to future researchers in Nigeria in the area of literature review as it would serve as one of the empirical studies on the effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour therapy and cognitive behavioural therapy in reducing examination anxiety and its related fields in Nigeria.

Scope of the Study
            This study covers effectiveness of REBT and CBT in reducing examination anxiety in public senior secondary school. Students in Senior Secondary school one (SS1) and Senior Secondary school  two (SS2) classes  in Edo StateNigeria. Only examination anxious students were selected and exposed to either one of the following treatments – cognitive behavioural therapy, rational emotive behavior therapy for the reduction of examination anxiety. In this study, the duration of the treatment exposure was seven weeks.

Limitations of the Study
            The focus of the study was the effectiveness of rational emotive behaviour and cognitive behavioural therapies in reducing examination anxiety among senior secondary school students in Edo state. Only examination anxious students in senior secondary school 1 (S.S.1) and senior secondary school 2 (S.S.2) classes were selected for the study. The study involved only public senior secondary school students in primary schools, Junior secondary schools and students in universities were not captured in this study. Another major limitation of this study was coordinating the three experimental centres which were not in the same locality, was quite challenging for the researcher and the cost of financing three centres at the same time was also enormous.

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