Teenagers and School Emotionality





Adolescence is a stage of age burdened by changes, inner turmoil, anxiety, ambivalent emotions, in which the individual loses confidence in previous acquisitions, also doubts, searches, tends to react based on momentary reactions, hasty or with an apparent detachment or indifference. In teenagers’ life, school stress and situational anxiety have important places, and that is why it raises the interest of researchers in the field of educational psychology. Thus, this paper presents a study of the impact of applying the written term paper stressor to Mathematics of the 10th grade students in the high school from Timis County, on a sample of 50 teenagers of both sexes, aged between 15 and 17 years old, with a multi-criteria batch.


Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Research methodology

2.1 Objectives

2.2 Instruments used

3. Conclusions and results


1. Introduction

At  the  behavior  level,  the  adolescence  period  abounds  in  personalized  manifestations  of strategies to cope with stress, which can be interpreted as multidimensional ways of adapting to the individuals environment in an attempt to control the situation. The indirect strategies for coping with  stress  adopted  by  adolescents  imply  the  diminishing  of  the  emotional  resonance  to  the stressors. Short-term strategies or defensive mechanisms may be preferable, based on primary conflicts in expressing the ego subject to the principle of reality: repression, regression, projection, commutation, sublimation, denial, identification and intellectualization.

In the emotional life of adolescents, anxiety can manifest through states of anxiety, fear and unmotivated concern, in the absence of concrete causes to provoke them, as “an objectless fear. In this respect, Spielberger's teen-related studies in the school context describe their condition in relation to test situations, including self-expectations and negative perceptions. Most researchers agree that anxiety in test situations is a multidimensional emotional construct with a particularly interesting intrinsic dynamic [1].

These states, specific to adolescence, called by Chandler Cartesian anxiety[2], describe states that abound in negative emotions, such as the horror of madness and chaos, where nothing is stable anymore” [3] and the feelings of isolation, insinuation, restlessness, uprooting and loss pass through states of internal tension, insecurity and anxiety. According to Underwoods research, in 1999, in the majority of the descriptions of their inner life, adolescents use the terms of alienation, despair, overwhelming, or their equivalents.


2. Research methodology

For the purpose of studying the impact of applying a written term paper stressor, using the subject of Mathematics for the 10th grade students, in a high school from Timis County, on a sample of 50 teenagers of both genders, aged between 15 and 17 years old, with a multi-criteria batch.


2.1 Objectives

Two objectives were set for this study: quantifying the level of school stress for the 10tgrade students as a result of the application of the written term paper stress factor, referring to the subject of Mathematics in the second semester, respectively the quantification of the situational anxiety experienced by the exposure of the sample to the same independent variable – Mathematics term paper.

The dependent variables – school stress and situational anxiety were measured before the Mathematics term paper – named in the study situation 1, respectively after the term paper, while waiting for the result of the evaluation – referred to in the study as situation 2. In order to achieve the proposed objectives, I formulated the following hypotheses:

-    Hypothesis 1: There are statistically significant differences in students regarding the stress before and after the written term paper in Mathematics.

-    Hypothesis 2: There are statistically significant differences with regard to the situational anxiety of the students before and after the written term paper in Mathematics.


2.2 Instruments used

The psychometric assessment tools used in the study were the Educational Stress Scale for Adolescents (E.S.S.A.), conducted by the Michael Dunn and Jiandong Sun in 2011 [5], and the State Trait Anxiety Inventory (S.T.A.I.), the X1 form, which measures the level of the situational anxiety [1].

The E.S.S.A. questionnaire measures the school stress of the adolescents through a set of 16 items related to five variables or factors: pressure from study, workload, worrying about the grades, self-expectation and despair or despondency of the subject. The answer options are in five stages, the respondent being able to score points from 1 to 5, the maximum score that can be accumulated is 80 points and the minimum score is of 16 points [5].

The STAI-X1 form questionnaire was developed by Charles Spielberger contains 20 descriptions of emotional states that can be rated from 1 to 4, 10 of which are directly rated and the rest are indirect,  with a maximum score of 80 points and the minimum score of 20 points. This questionnaire is considered one of the most accurate psychometric tools for assessing anxiety as a state [1].

Following the application of the ESSA questionnaire and of the S.T.A.I.-X1 form questionnaire, the data obtained before and after the written term paper in Mathematics on the second semester for the specified sample were processed and centralized the following statistical data presented in Table 1.

tab 1

As it can be seen in Table 1, for the application of the E.S.S.A. evaluation questionnaire, the significance threshold obtained for the hypothesis 1 is:


Therefore hypothesis 1 is valid.

For the application of the S.T.A.-X1 form questionnaire, related to the data in Table 1, it is possible to detail with greater precision that the significance threshold obtained for hypothesis 2 has the value:


Thus, the indicator reflects a statistically significant difference in measuring of the situational anxiety dependent variable of the students in the surveyed sample. So, hypothesis 2 is valid.

Table 1 shows that the average of the scores for situation 1 is m1 = 52.5 and the average of the scores for situation 2 is m2=59, indicating an increase in the pupils' school stress after writing the written term paper, in the context of expecting the result, students are more stressed than before the term paper. Thus, in order to analyse this data behaviour, I conducted a comparative study of the scores obtained for each of the five factors of the scale.

The results of the data processing on the five scale factors in the E.S.S.A questionnaire are summarized in Table 2.

Tab 2


3. Conclusions and results

It can thus be observed, that after the term paper the impact of study pressure is reduced and also of the workload on pupils, who feel more relaxed in situation 2 under these issues, yet the level of school stress increases due to concern for the grade, self-expectation and despondency of the subjects, which significantly increase the overall average score. Thus, students are more stressed after the term paper that is before knowing the result than before giving the test itself indicating a major concern for the echoes” of the school event. Primary is the effect of the school event on self- image, employment, the future, students wanting not to disappoint their parents, and teachers, and are also concerned about the competition among colleagues in the classroom.

Although the situational anxiety level of pupils is reduced after confrontation with the stressor element, becoming much less anxious in situation 2 – waiting for the term paper result, they become more stressed due to the significance it attaches to the grade and its effects on a personal level.

For the students from the surveyed sample, the social and inner echoes of the term paper represent an emotional investment manifested by school stress more valued than the formative impact of the study and academic labour, indicating a predominantly extrinsic motivation for school tests.


Contributo selezionato da Filodiritto tra quelli pubblicati nei Proceedings “1st International Conference Supervision in Psychotherapy - 2018”

Per acquistare i Proceedings clicca qui.


Contribution selected by Filodiritto among those published in the Proceedings 1st International Conference Supervision in Psychotherapy - 2018”

To buy the Proceedings click here.


1.    Spielberger, C.D., (1983), Manual for the State-Trate Anxiety Inventor, Palo Alto, Consulting. Psychologists Press, California.

2.    Adams, G., Beryonski, M. (2009). The teenager’s psychology, Bucharest: Polirom Publishing House.

3.    Bernstein, R.-J., (1983). Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press

4.    Cassady, J. C., (2014). The impact of cognitive test anxiety on text comprehension and recall in the absence of external evaluative pressure. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 18, New York: The Free Press Ltd.

5.    Dunn,  M.,  Sun,  J.  and  collaborators  (2011).  Educational  Stress  Scale  for  Adolescents,  London:  Sage Publications Ltd.