The Relationship between Writing Anxiety and EFL University Students’ Writing Proficiency

By Hui-Fang Shang.

Published by The International Journal of Learning in Higher Education

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Recent studies on the relations between affective factors such as self-beliefs and academic writing performance show that students’ beliefs about themselves play a crucial role in their ability to learn how to write. Numerous studies also show the negative relationship and effects of facilitative anxiety on writing performance. Despite studies on EFL writing anxiety that have revealed equivocal results regarding the relationships of writing anxiety to EFL writing performance (Masny and Foxall, 1992; Wu, 1992), concern for the potential sources and levels of anxiety on self-perceived writing outcomes is still underdeveloped, so much work is needed to achieve a better understanding of EFL writing anxiety. This study attempts to delineate clusters of variables that could possibly form a link between levels of anxiety and writing competence. Based on the purpose of the present study, two main research questions are composed: What is the relationship between the potential sources of anxiety (i.e., fear of writing tests, anxiety about making mistakes, fear of negative evaluation, and low confidence in English writing) on students’ self-evaluated writing proficiency? What is the difference existing between levels of anxiety and students’ self-perceptions of writing competence? The results of the correlation and ANOVA analyses suggest that students generally feel anxious in English writing; they particularly fear making mistakes in language forms. As expected, highly apprehensive learners consider themselves poor writers and write essays that receive negative evaluations. Pedagogical implications for teachers to recognize the existence of students’ writing anxiety are presented, so as to make a writing class less stressful.

Keywords: Writing Anxiety, Writing Tests, Making Mistakes, Negative Evaluation, Low Confidence, Perceived Writing Competence

International Journal of Learning in Higher Education, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp.35-44. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 276.280KB).

Prof. Hui-Fang Shang

Professor and Chair, Department of Applied English, I-Shou University, Kaohsiung County, Taiwan

Hui-Fang Shang was born in Kaohsiung, Taiwan. In 1996, she earned her ED.D. degree at the University of Southern California in the USA. Now she is a full professor and the chair of the Department of Applied English at I-Shou University in Taiwan. Her expertise and research interests include TEFL, and curriculum and instructional design.