Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Educational Leadership, Research and Technology

First Advisor

Dr. Patricia L. Reeves

Second Advisor

Dr. Louann A. Bierlein-Palmer

Third Advisor

Dr. Patrick D. Bird


anxiety, anxiety-reducing strategies, middle school curriculum, ed. programming, stress


This case study research explored how sixth grade students experience and respond to anxiety prior to, during, and after receiving 10 sessions of instruction in anxiety-reducing strategies in the classroom compared to a group of similar students who do not receive instruction in anxiety-reducing strategies in the classroom. Three research-based strategies were taught: (a) progressive muscle relaxation, (b) breathing exercises, and (c) positive self- talk. Qualitative data were collected through journals the students kept, pre-questionnaires and post-questionnaires, observation notes, and field notes. Four strong themes, in the words of the students, were identified: (a) “I like it” – demonstrating autonomy; (b) “I don’t like it” – demonstrating disaffiliation; (c) “I don’t need it” – demonstrating self-advocacy; and (d) “It doesn’t work for me” – demonstrating resignation.

The strongest theme that emerged from the study was “I like it” (autonomy). The data collected from the journals and the pre-questionnaires and post-questionnaires, as well as the observation notes and the field notes, showed that students who participated in the classes with instruction on the three research-based anxiety-reducing strategies experienced positive change in their ability to control anxiety during anxiety-producing situations by using one or more of the strategies.

Access Setting

Dissertation-Open Access