Classroom Engagement as a Stressor for Socially Anxious Individuals

Liu, Christopher
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University of Hawaii at Manoa
Teaching styles often affect students differently based on their predispositions towards becoming socially anxious. Previous research suggests that individuals with higher levels of trait social anxiety are more likely to experience stress in classroom engagement situations. This study sought to determine whether classroom engagement activities moderate the association between symptoms of general social anxiety and classroom stress in a sample of undergraduate students (N=408). University students who had taken English 100 within five academic years completed measures of social anxiety, classroom stress, and the extent to which their instructor utilized classroom engagement activities in their English 100 course. Results indicate that individuals’ levels of social anxiety – a personal, continuous characteristic – and experiences with classroom stress differed by the extent of classroom engagement. However, this result only became apparent when the data set was limited to students who were currently taking English 100 (n=90). This finding suggests that college students who report higher levels of social anxiety experience significantly higher levels of classroom stress when taking courses with high student engagement compared to classrooms with lower student engagement. The results suggest that while classroom engagement activities might be beneficial to the majority of students, they may also lead to greater levels of stress and negative outcomes in individuals with predispositions for social anxiety.
social anxiety, classroom engagement activities, stress
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