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Article Review: Effects of Systematic Desensitization (sd) Therapy on the Reduction of Test Anxiety Among Adolescents in Nigerian Schools

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The article starts off by focusing on the Nigerian education system and the problems they are facing. The people in this area are split into three groups, the first group are concerned with the education system itself, the second group are worried about the teaching methods, and the third group still blame it on the inability for the students to comprehend what they have learned.

Another problem is the issue of emotional maladjustment within the adolescent community. These adolescents have been brought up with such high expectations that fear and anxiety is a common reaction. Since there is no attention given to improve these conditions, the fear and anxiety increases, causing it to blend into poor assignments, projects, class work, and of course testing.

The study outlined in this article focused on two aspects. It set out to research the effects of Systematic Desensitization on the reduction of test anxiety on a particular population (Nigerian Secondary School children that were experiencing test anxiety), and also focused on three secondary independent variables, which included entry test anxiety level, sex, and locus of control.

The test hoped to establish a relationship between systematic desensitization and sex and set up three research hypotheses. The first one stated there is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups with moderate and high entry anxiety at the end of treatment. The second declared there is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of groups subjected to Systematic Desensitization therapy and Control after treatment. Finally the third hypothesis was there is no significant difference in the test anxiety level of male and female subjects after treatment.

II. Description of Technique

Systematic Desensitization, a type of Classical Conditioning, is a behavioral technique used to reduce an individual's fear and anxiety toward a particular situation. This is done by gradually associating a new response, with the stimuli that had been causing the individual fear and anxiety. For this to be done, a list of situations from the least to most fearful for the individual must be established. This is called the individual's "hierarchy of fears." Then, beginning at the bottom of the "hierarchy of fears" an individual begins facing the least anxiety-provoking fear. After overcoming that fear, they go on to their next ranked fear. This goes on and on, systematically desensitizing the person to what they fear. In the end, the person is relaxed and comfortable in a situation involving what before would have caused fear and anxiety.

The treatment procedure implemented was done in three steps. The first part of the study was the introduction of a pretest. The population for this study was comprised of three schools that were randomly selected from all secondary schools in Lagos (South West area of Nigeria). The pretest that was administered was the Test Anxiety Inventory (TAI). This test was used to organize the subjects into three distinct groups labeled as low entry test anxiety level, moderate entry test anxiety level, and high entry test anxiety level as a result of their scores. The subjects who scored below 34.37 and 34.77, which was set as the norm score for the Nigerian sample, were regarded as having no problems with test anxiety, and were not used in the study. The subjects who scored between 34.48 and 34.78 to 49.99 were placed in the moderate level group, and the subjects who scored 50.00 or higher were placed in the high level group. Once the subjects were placed into the two separate level groups, the researcher then used stratified random sampling once again to place them into the two different groups for treatment.

The second part of the study was the treatment section. The individuals were randomly selected and placed into either the Systematic Desensitization group, or the Control group. The SD group was exposed to six weeks of treatment, in which each week consisted of two sessions lasting for 30 minutes per session. The control group was not exposed to SD therapy.

The third and final part of the study was the post test. To determine if the SD therapy had any effect of the anxiety levels of the subjects, a two-way ANOVA was used. In the end, the results rejected two of the null hypotheses previously stated. It was concluded that there was in fact a significant difference in test anxiety level of groups subjected to SD therapy and control after treatment, and that there was a significant difference in test anxiety level of groups with moderate and high level entry test anxiety level at the end of treatment.

After a further data analyses to test if sex had any effect on the levels of test anxiety, it was concluded that there was no significant difference. This meant that the effect of treatment was the same in both males and females. So the third hypothesis that stated no significant effect of treatment by gender

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