“I like and prefer to work alone”: Social anxiety, academic self-efficacy, and students’ perceptions of active learning

S. Hood, N. Barrickman, N. Djerdjian, M. Farr, S. Magner, H. Roychowdhury, R. Gerrits, H. Lawford, B. Ott, K. Ross, O. Paige, S. Stowe, M. Jensen, K. Hull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Although active learning improves student outcomes in science, technology, engineer-ing, and mathematics (STEM) programs, it may provoke anxiety in some students. We examined whether two psychological variables, social anxiety (psychological distress relat-ing to the fear of negative evaluation by others) and academic self-efficacy (confidence in one’s ability to overcome academic challenges), interact with student perceptions of evidence-based instructional practices (EBIPs) and associate with their final grades in a STEM-related course. Human anatomy and physiology students in community college courses rated various EBIPs for their perceived educational value and their capacity to elicit anxiety (N = 227). In general, practices causing students the most anxiety (e.g., cold calling) were reported by students as having the least educational value. When controlling for students’ self-reported grade point averages, socially anxious students rated several EBIPs as more anxiety inducing, whereas high-efficacy students reported less anxiety sur-rounding other EBIPs. Furthermore, mediation analysis revealed that individual differences in academic self-efficacy at the beginning of the term explained some of the negative association between students’ social anxiety levels and final grades in the course. Our results, obtained in a community college context, support a growing body of evidence that social anxiety and academic self-efficacy are linked with how students perceive and perform in an active-learning environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberar12
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalCBE life sciences education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation Community College Anatomy and Physiology Education Research (CAPER) Award Abstract No. 1829157.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 S. Hood et al. CBE—Life Sciences Education and The American Society for Cell Biology.


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