Variations in test anxiety and locus of control orientation in achieving and underachieving gifted and nongifted middle school students

Date of Completion

January 2006


Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special




This study investigated the prevalence of test anxiety and locus of control orientation in three groups of middle school students: Achieving Gifted (AG), Underachieving Gifted (UAG), and Nongifted (NG) students. Two instruments were used in the study: the Test Anxiety Inventory ( TAI) and the Children's Nowicki-Strickland Internal-External Control Scale (CNSIE). Participants completed the TAI by indicating their level of agreement with 20 statements that measure test anxiety symptoms before, during, and after a testing session. Responses ranged between Almost Never (1) and Almost Always (4). Participants completed the CNSIE by selecting Yes or No to indicate whether or not each of 25 statements described their feelings about a variety of situations. Although none of the groups received extreme scores on either instrument, a 3 x 2 MANOVA indicated significant differences between the groups by gender and achievement classification (AG, UAG, and NG). Underachieving gifted students were more externally oriented than achieving gifted students. There was also a significant difference in the locus of control orientation between achieving gifted and nongifted students; nongifted students were more externally controlled than achieving gifted students. In regards to underachievers, males were more externally controlled than females. Regarding test anxiety, females consistently reported higher levels of anxiety than males. Findings suggest the need for school interventions to reduce test anxiety among females and to assist students in developing the thought processes that give them a sense of control over the events in their life, in particular, their academic performance. ^