December 24, 2010
An assessment of anxiety levels in dyslexic students in higher education
Background. It has long been hypothesized that children with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, may be highly vulnerable to emotional consequences such as anxiety. However, research has centred on school-aged children.
Aims. The present study aimed to clarify these findings with dyslexic students in higher education.
Samples. Sixteen students with dyslexia were compared with 16 students with no history of learning difficulties.
Methods. Students were asked to complete a written questionnaire concerning trait anxiety levels. They were then told that they would be given a timed reading test and their state anxiety levels were measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI; Spielberger, Gorsuch, & Lushene, 1983). Finally, their reading was assessed using the Test of Word Reading Efficiency (TOWRE; Torgesen, Wagner, & Rashotte, 1999).
Results. Dyslexic students showed slower reading speeds than controls. They also had higher levels of state anxiety and elevated levels of academic and social, but not appearance, anxiety.
Conclusions. Dyslexic students in higher education show anxiety levels that are well above what is shown by students without learning difficulties. This anxiety is not limited to academic tasks but extends to many social situations. It is proposed that assessment of emotional well-being should form part of the assessment of need for dyslexic students entering higher education.