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PSY 2301 Assignment Information Part 1
The style by which students generally cope with stressors in their lives (and particularly emotion-focused coping) is thought to impact on the anxiety students typically experience before exam. It is also thought that coping style (and particularly emotion-focused coping) is thought to depend on age.
For a sample of second year university students then,
Research Question 1: What is the relation between emotion-focused coping and exam anxiety?
Research Question 2: What is the effect of age (older compared to younger students) on emotion-focused coping?
Students will need to complete an on-line survey about coping style, some general background information (e.g., age and gender), and exam anxiety by the end of week 2 of semester.
The link to the survey is:
The overall task for students overall task is to submit a laboratory report (title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, and references) of no more than 3000 words (excluding title page and references) based on the research questions outlined above and the results from this survey.
Students will be provided with the method section for the laboratory report in the near future. All that students will need to do is cut and paste method section into their laboratory report.
Analysis of the results will be conducted (by Dr Harms) as follows:
- Research Question 1: Correlation between emotion-focused coping and exam anxiety (based on the responses of all of the participants).
Research Question 2: An independent sample t-test comparing the responses of two independent groups (younger and older students) on emotion-focused coping.
Although students will be provided with the statistical output in the near future for these analyses, students are expected to write the results section of the laboratory report. to remind them how to look through the statistical output for what they need to write up the results section.

Two hundred and eleven undergraduate university students initially participated in the present study. However, 3 students did not complete the survey. Therefore the final sample of participants for this study was 208. Most of the participants were females (N= 184, or 88.5%). The average age of the participants was 29.57 years (S.D.= 11.70). The participants typically had left secondary education nearly 13 years ago (M= 12.98 years, S.D.= 11.51) and currently worked on a part time basis (N= 108) or were unemployed (N= 67). Participants were defined as younger students if they had left secondary school in the previous 6 years (and were typically 23 years of age). Students are commonly defined as being mature-aged or older student by universities when they are older than 23 years of age. Younger students made up 46.6% of the total sample.
The short form of the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI-5; Taylor & Deane, 2002) is made up of five items that assess the anxiety college and university students typically experience in the lead up to major tests and exams. The items were modified for the present study to focus exclusively on exam rather than test anxiety because exams generally have a greater focus in Australian universities. A typical item is “I seem to defeat myself while working on important exams”. Participants responded on a 4-point likert scale (1= almost never: 4= almost always). Scores on this scale can range from 4 to 20. The internal reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) for the use of this scale in the present study was very good (.90) and compares very favourably to internal reliability observed in the study were the scale was developed (.87).
Coping style was measured using the Brief Cope (Carver, 1997). Participants responded to 28 questions regarding how they typically respond to stressful events on a 4-point likert scale (1= I usually don’t do this at all: 4= I usually do this a lot). The items from the Brief Cope assess 14 different coping styles: Emotional Support; Instrumental Support; Venting; Self-blame; Self-distraction; Denial; Active Coping; Positive Reframing; Planning; Acceptance; Substance Use; Behavioural Disengagement; Humour; and Religion. Scales typically associated with Emotion- or Avoidant-focused coping (Emotional Support; Instrumental Support; Venting; Self-blame; Self-distraction; Denial; Positive Reframing; Substance Use; Behavioural Disengagement; Humour; and Religion) were examined for the present study because these scales are thought to measure how individuals typically deal with the emotional consequences of stressful events. Scores from the Self Blame, Denial, and Behavioural Disengagement scales were combined into a single score for Emotion-focused coping because preliminary analysis indicated that these were the only scales from the Emotion- and Avoidant-focused groups of coping scales that correlated substantially and positively with Test Anxiety. Scores on the Emotion-focused scale for the present study ranged from 6 to 24; and internal reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) was adequate (.70).
The participants completed the survey using on an on-line survey program (Qualtrics) at time that was convenient to them during the first two weeks of semester at university.
The relationship between Emotion-Focused Coping Style was examined using a Pearson-r bivariate correlation. An independent-samples t-test was used to examine the impact of student age on Emotion-focused coping. Effect size (Cohen’s d) was also reported.