Date of Completion

Fall 5-1-2015

Thesis Advisor(s)

Dr. Rhiannon Smith

Honors Major



The majority of our pre-adulthood lives are spent in school; education is a salient part of a child's life. The current study aims to investigate adolescents’ perceptions of the academic challenges they face, and to determine if responses differ according to their age and gender. Adolescents ages 12 through 18 (N = 297) were asked to self-report a problem that they are currently facing. These problems were coded as academic or non-academic. This open-ended prompt resulted in 25% of participants reporting an academic problem, which alludes to the importance of academics in these participants' lives overall. The academic problems were further coded into seven sub-categories, such as GPA-Related Problems or College-Related Problems. Significant differences were found for the ages of participants reporting academic versus non-academic as their current problem. Significant age and gender differences were also found for the type of academic problem reported. Importantly, some reported problems did not differ by age (Transitional Stress, Academic-Related Anxiety, Problems Relating to GPA) or by gender (Specific Teacher/Class Problems, Difficult Schoolwork, Academic-Related Anxiety, General School Problems). These academic problems are assumed to occur equivalently across ages and/or genders. The data and results present an interesting display of adolescents' perceived academic problems, from finishing middle school all the way through preparing to graduate high school and enter college. It is important to investigate adolescents' perceptions of their own academic challenges in order to look for ways to improve their education and general well-being, and the education system.