Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Testing faith: A mixed methods study investigating the relationship between prayer and test anxiety amongst college students
by Campbell, Drey, Ph.D., Northwest Nazarene University, 2016, 288; 10123795
Abstract (Summary)

Test anxiety is problem that affects college students. Explanatory mixed methods research was completed with the objective of understanding the interrelationship of prayer and test anxiety as well as the potential therapeutic effects of Christian prayer on test anxiety. It was hypothesized that Christian prayer would have significant effects on the reduction of physiological test anxiety biomarkers of salivary cortisol (SC), salivary alpha amylase (SAA), and heart rate (HR). The framework of the cognitive attentional theory (CAT) of test anxiety was used as a lens to gain insight into the phenomena of test anxiety and the use of prayer as a hypothesized alleviating agent. Undergraduates among four different majors of study from a university in the Northwest United States were volunteer participants in the study. Forty-eight participants were put into three 20-minute experimental groups to determine if a relationship existed between concentrated Christian prayer and test anxiety. The experimental groups were: Focused Christian Prayer, Guided Meditation, and Study Guide. In order to further understand the relationship of prayer and test anxiety, students were also grouped and analyzed by their scores on the Westside Test Anxiety Scale (WTAS) and their value of prayer in their lives. The mean age of the sample was 20.02 yrs old. SC and SAA were measured with Assay kits ordered from Salimetrics Company, and HR was measured using Gurin Santamedical SM-110 finger pulse oximeters. Two focus groups were conducted to help explain the quantitative data gathered. Results from the quantitative research did not clearly show that prayer is more effective than meditation or a study guide to alleviate biomarkers of test anxiety. Quantitative results did suggest that students who valued prayer higher in their lives experienced less biomarkers of test anxiety. Nine qualitative themes from the two focus groups emerged to help shed light on the findings of the quantitative data. The unique interrelationship of prayer and test anxiety is discussed. More studies on the phenomena of prayer and test anxiety are supported.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Werth, Eric
Commitee: Roberts, Ryan, Sanchez, Al
School: Northwest Nazarene University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Idaho
Source: DAI-A 77/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social research, Behavioral psychology, Religious education, Higher education
Keywords: Christian prayer, Prayer, Salivary alpha amylase, Salivary cortisol, Test anxiety, Westside test anxiety scale
Publication Number: 10123795
ISBN: 978-1-369-00308-6
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