Date of Award

Winter 1-15-2023

Document Type


Degree Name

PHD - Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Dr, Patricia Crain de Galarce

Second Advisor

Dr. Beverley Cush Evans

Third Advisor

Dr. Karen Levine


The incidence of anxiety disorders, one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, in students has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, these disorders continue to be underdiagnosed and untreated in schools, leading to impaired learning, social relationships, and health issues. If teachers, who spend a considerable amount of time with students, identify anxiety and enforce successful interventions, it can lead to positive student outcomes. Therefore, this qualitative study examined teachers’ knowledge of anxiety and their feelings of preparedness in teaching students with anxiety. Thirteen general education elementary teachers with two to three years of experience were interviewed. The participants responded to questions on six scenarios exploring student anxiety symptoms and recommended strategies for addressing student concerns. They responded to direct questions about their preparation courses, professional development (PD) opportunities, knowledge of anxiety prevalence and symptoms, and comfort level working with students with anxiety. The results indicate a theory-to-practice gap: most teachers did not correctly identify the anxiety symptoms of the children in the scenarios despite hypothesizing that 50–90% of all students had anxiety, but they listed some signs when specifically asked. Although the teachers had no mental health coursework and inadequate PD regarding the impact of student anxiety, they reported being very comfortable working with such students. Future research may explore whether there is a relationship between teacher training on anxiety in students and their response to real-life situations.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.



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