Creative Education
2012. Vol.3, No.1, 92-95
Published Online February 2012 in SciRes (
Copyright © 2012 SciRes.
Gender and Anxiety: A Comparison of Student Anxiety
Levels in Face-to-Face and Video Conferencing Courses
Jodi McKnight1, Mark A. McKnight2
1Psychology, M idcontinent University, Mayfield, USA
2Business Communication, University of Southern Indiana, Evansville, USA
Email: jmcknight,
Received October 11th, 2011; revised November 14th, 2011; accepted November 28th, 2011
This research focuses on the role of gender in face-to-face instruction and video conferencing instruction
on students’ levels of anxiety. This is due, in part, to the fact that gender and anxiety levels of students
enrolled in remote video conferencing learning environments has received little attention in either psy-
chological or educational research. A difference in gender as it relates to education is an important focus
of research. This is due to the increasing learning opportunities for female students (online in particular).
Explored later, further research should investigate various demographics and delivery options for courses.
Keywords: Video Conferencing; Student Anxiety; Gender
Current research has shown that affective responses in alter-
native learning environments are lacking (McKnight, 2010).
Hove and Corcoran (2008) found that there is a limit to the
investigation of students’ affective responses in virtual learning
environments, one of which is video conferencing. Video con-
ferencing in educational settings is a method of instruction in
which instructors and students interact, both visually and with
audio in “real time”, with the instructor and students at the
originating campus and other remote campuses, allowing simu-
lation of the face-to-face interaction of traditional education
(Fillion et al., 1999). Yukselturk and Bulut, (2009) report that
within the literature, gender based differences in education are
an important focus for research, and have been for a while.
Research was conducted to explore the comparative impact of a
students’ form of instruction (either face-to-face or video con-
ferenced) on their levels of anxiety as it relates to t heir gender,
one reason being that gender, as a demographic variable, has
great practical importance (Schleicher, Van Iddenkinge, Mor-
geson, & Campion, 2010).
The present research attempts to provide an exploratory
study on the impacts of demographics as determining factors
for anxiety levels in educational settings. More specifically,
initial study undertaken here investigates the demographic of
gender in a live video-based course. Further research, which is
fully explored later, could explore various demographics and
delivery options for courses.
Review of the Literature
Recent studies have found that attending a college or univer-
sity can be anxiety-producing during the first year (Bouteyre,
Maurel, & Bernand, 2007; Mundia, 2010). This can be the re-
sult of numerous factors including poor time management,
repeated failure, or public speaking (Head & Lindsey, 1983).
Yukselturk and Bulut (2009) report that distance education has
been a good option for female students, primarily because they
can balance more of the familial and educational, as well as
vocational, areas of their lives. Since distance education is one
of the more popular forums for educational advancement, Yuk-
selturk and Bulut (2009) found that the male and female may be
different in several ways due to the variety of life responsibili-
ties they have.
Bekker and van Mens-Verhulst (2007) define gender as con-
sisting of “the socio-cultural aspects of defining people’s iden-
tity in relation to sex” (p. S179). These characteristics can be very
different between same sex members, but can also be similar
between those individuals of opposite sexes (Bekker & van
Mens-Verhulst, 2007). Judge and Livingston (2008) state that
gender is fundamental and has been explored within a plethora
of disciplinary perspectives. In fact, gender is often one of the
first variables considered when conducting a meta-analysis of a
topic. Gender and anxiety research have been explored in a
variety of areas, one being distance learning (Yukselturk, and
Bulut, 2009). Martin (2010) recommends that to gain better
representation on gender and discipline, study one specific dis-
cipline and explore gender within it.
Abdel-Khalek and Alansari (2004) state that “anxiety is one
of the most fundamental of all constructs in psychology” (p.
649). Disorders within the anxiety-spectrum are the most per-
vasive class of mental disorders (Stein & Stein, 2008), with
over 29% of the United States population having one or more
diagnosable anxiety disorder at some point in their lives (Mi-
neka & Zinbarg, 2006.)
Both physiological and psychological manifestations have
also been explored, but it is limited in a video conferenced en-
vironment (McKnight, 2010). Anxiety research in education has
been limited to computer-assisted teaching methods (DeBord,
Arugente, & Muhlig, 2004), learning and computer anxiety
(Barbeite and Weiss, 2003), emotions and achievement (Pekrun
et al., 2006), academic anxiety (Levine, 2008) and the compa-
risons between online learning and face-to-face learning (Soli-
meno et al., 2007).
As for gender prevalence, Bekker and van Mens-Verhulst
(2007) report that anxiety is substantially higher in women than
in men. Mundia (2010) indicates that there is an increase in the
prevalence of anxiety in college students. In addition, anxiety
was more prevalent in female students than male students.
The sample was drawn from a larger population of students
enrolled in a community college. Upon registration, students had
the opportunity to enroll in a variety of courses, one being
called “Interactive Video Course”. As more face-to-face courses
were available than distance learning courses, there was un-
equal groups. This, however, is neither uncommon nor atypical,
according to Halsne and Gotta’s (2002) study of traditional
versus online instruction. Their sample for study consisted of
twice as many traditional students than online students.
The educational institution’s distance education option was
called an “interactive video course.” The courses offered in this
format and the traditional face-to-face format included Intro-
duction to Psychology, Speech, English, History and Sociology.
This “class subject” was included in the analyses as an inde-
pendent variable to see if it had any impact on anxiety experi-
enced. The demographics of the participants were as follows:
ages 18-50, men and women, of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
The exclusion criteria included those not enrolled in the video
conferencing course for the above courses during a single 15-
week term. Additional exclusion criteria included students who
did not speak the English language fluently. There were no
disability exclusion criteria for this research.
Distance education courses at this college had a maximum of
20 enrollees per 15-week term in each class, but had to have at
least 10 students enrolled in order for the course to be held.
Students could have enrolled at the main campus or at the re-
mote campus. Using five courses provided the researcher with
approximately 100 students to which the instruments were ad-
ministered. Students who choose to enroll in Introduction to
Psychology, Speech, English, History and Sociology video
conferencing courses decided upon registration which campus
they preferred to receive instruction from, the main campus
(face-to-face) or the remote campus. Factors that influenced the
students’ choices of location in the past included convenience,
the length of travel time it took to and from the college loca-
tions, financial issues due to travel, residential addresses of
students. Therefore, the researcher did not assign participants to
groups; the students themselves (along with assistance from
their academic advisor) decided the location from which to take
the class.
A quasi-experimental design was used due the fact that stu-
dents were not randomly assigned and there were unequal
groups. Data was collected through two quantitative measures,
at one time. The first measure was through the state scale of the
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, created by Spielberger (1983).
The STAI measures the psychological manifestations of anxiety.
Andor et al. (2008) reports that one psychological manifestation
of anxiety is a difficulty in controlling worry, while Spielberger
(1983) believes manifestations can also include a feelings of
fear, tension and apprehension.
The second measure was the Beck Anxiety Inventory, cre-
ated by Beck et al. (1988). The BAI measures the physical
manifestations of anxiety. These can include an increase in
heart rate, sweating, shortness of breath and trembling (Larson
et al., 2007). The class subject being taught, age and gender
was also be recorded, to be analyzed as an independent variable,
as it may have had some impact on anxiety levels. Students
were administered the BAI and the STAI during a class period
toward the end of the 15-week term.
The data that was analyzed included the numerical compo-
nents provided by the STAI and the BAI, as well as the class
subject being taught. For the scores on the STAI-S (or state
scale), there is an increase in response to physical danger and
psychological stress and decrease as a result of some relaxation
techniques (Spielberger, 1983). The STAI consists of separate
self-report scales that measure state and trait anxiety. The STAI
items contain twenty statements of how people generally feel.
Spielberger (1983) reports that the state anxiety scale can vary
from a minimum of 20 to a maximum of 80, with those report-
ing higher scores exhibiting more self-reported symptoms of
anxiety. Participants are asked to read the statements, and then
circle the number to the right of the statement to indicate how
they feel at the current moment. Choices included 1 = not at all;
2 = somewhat; 3 = moderately so; and 4 = very much so. This
instrument consists of twenty statements that evaluate those
The BAI, according to Beck et al. (1988) reports that the
items are summed to obtain the total score ranging from 0-63.
Wetherell and Arean (1997) report that scores of 16 or higher
suggest moderate to severe levels of anxiety, which means that
the higher the score on the BAI, the greater number of symp-
toms of anxiety experienced by the person. This is a self-report
measure that examines the physical sensations associated with
anxiety, such as abdominal discomfort, numbness, difficulty
breathing, and sweating. The BAI consists of 21 anxiety symp-
toms, with participants being asked to indicate the extent to
which they were bothered by each item during the past week,
and including the current day (Creamer, et al., 1995). Partici-
pants rate their severity of anxious symptoms over the past
week on a 4-point scale ranging from 0 (not at all) to 3 (se-
verely-I could barely stand it). Beck et al. (1988) reports that
the items are summed to obtain the total score ranging from
The researcher in the main campus classroom collected data
while the proctor collected the data in the remote campus loca-
tion. Participants were assigned a number before the admini-
stration of the instruments and the participant number was the
only identifying information on the instruments. Once instru-
ments were collected, the researcher and the proctor placed the
instruments in a large manila envelope and sealed it. The re-
searcher then drove to the remote campus and collected the
video conferencing participants’ data after the completion of
the BAI and STAI.
The demographics of the participants included 41% (n = 54)
males and 59% (n = 78) females, for a total of 132 participants.
Participants ranged in ages from 18 years old to 66 years old.
There were 10 participants who did not report their age. Twenty-
seven percent (27%) of those reporting age were 18 years old,
Copyright © 2012 SciRes. 93
while 20% were 19 years old. The average age of respondents
was 23 (M = 23.36, SD = 8.53). The ages represented in the
sample ranged from 18 to 66. The largest percentage of student
participants was 18 years old, or 27%, with 19 year olds rank-
ing 20%. There were ten student participants, or 8%, who did
not wish to report their age.
The overall mean STAI score for participants was 40.25,
with a standard deviation of 12.047. The mean BAI score for
those same participants was 10.22, with a standard deviation of
10.05. More specifically, the STAI and BAI scores by gender
are presented as Table 1.
One-hundred and thirty-two participants reported their class
subject, gender, STAI-S and BAI scores, as well as the type of
instruction. There were ten students who did not report their
The sample was analyzed by gender. Of the total 132 par-
ticipants, there were 54 males and 78 females. There were a
greater number of female students enrolled, or 59%. Table 2
presents participant gender.
Participants were categorized by class subject, which in-
cluded Psychology, Speech Communication, English, History,
and Sociology. Class subject was reported in numerical order:
1-Psychology; 2-Speech Communication; 3-English; 4-History;
5-Sociology. There were a total of 132 students that partici-
pated in the research. The largest numbers of participants were
enrolled in the Speech Communication course, or 32, which is
24%. The smallest numbers of participants enrolled were in the
History course, or 17, which is 13%. Of the 132 students that
participated in the research, 72 were enrolled in the face-to-face
instruction course or 54.5%, and 60 or 45.5%, were enrolled in
the videoconferenced instruction course.
Distance learning education has paved the way for today’s
alternative educational instruction formats. However, gender
could be considered a variable for which there are score differ-
ences (Saad & Sacket, 2002). In Yuke selturk and Bulut’s (2009)
research, they found many variables that did not differ between
genders, such as motivational beliefs and self-regulated learn-
ing variables. They did, pointedly, find that females test higher
than males in anxiety-producing situations, as did Bekker and
van Mens-Verhulst (2007).
For the STAI, or psychological manifestations of anxiety, the
groups are fairly comparable in terms of average anxiety quo-
Table 1.
Anxiety scores by gender.
Gender N Mean
STAI Score Male
BAI Score Male
Table 2.
Participant gender.
Frequency Percent
Male 54 40.9
Female 78 59.1
Total 132 100.0
tients. However, the BAI, which measures physical manifesta-
tions of anxiety, indicates that females do experience higher
physical anxiety in video-based courses than males. Thus, the
setting does impact some of the primary manifestations of
However, the present research proves inconclusive as to the
role of gender in video-based courses. While there appears to
be some basis for further research and discussion, there is no
statistical significance that identifies gender as a determining
factor or consideration related to vid eo cou rses.
Yukeselturk and Bulut (2009) do not recommended treating
genders differently in instruction. Some recommendations may
have to be explored about the different behaviors contributed
by the genders in order to further expansion of anxiety and
gender research in alternative learning environments.
The present study indicates that while gender, as well as
other demographic variables, are relevant considerations in the
design of distance courses (in particular, live video), there is no
clearly defined linkage as to the exact effects of gender in dis-
tance education. Specific recommendations from the study
1) BAI, or physical manifestations of anxiety, must be ex-
plored further in educational settings. BAI should be measured
relative to gender in other distance education formats, such as
online delivery, hybrid courses, etc.
2) BAI should also be used to measure physical manifesta-
tions of anxiety relative to gender in traditional classroom set-
tings, to establish benchmarks for comparison among delivery
3) Finally, BAI and STAI measurements should be collected
in studies where other demographic variables, such as income,
age, and others can be used as a variable. This will help to fur-
ther explain the role of anxiety in educational set tings.
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