Graduate students as academic writers: Writing anxiety, self-efficacy, and emotional intelligence

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Researchers interested in psychological factors affecting writers in higher-education institutions, or academic writers, are concerned with internal variables affecting writing productivity; however few empirical studies explore these factors with samples of students who are in the process of earning master’s or doctoral degrees (i.e., graduate students). In this study, we examined writing anxiety, self-efficacy and emotional intelligence (EI) in a sample of graduate students at a large, research-intensive university in the United States. Using a survey, we collected measures on these variables in addition to demographic information from the participants. We then used the measures to descriptively compare groups of students with similar characteristics and to run three regression models to identify which variables best predicted writing anxiety. Our findings indicate self-efficacy is a statistically significant and large predictor of writing anxiety while EI is not, though descriptive data showed moderate effects between EI and first language (i.e., whether or not a student reported English as a first language). In the presence of self-efficacy, gender remained a significant predictor of writing anxiety, while first language did not. We discuss implications for future research and practice focused on helping graduate student academic writers succeed.

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