Date of Award

Spring 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Nina W. Brown

Committee Member

Steve Myran

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer


High school students who fail one or more mathematics' classes tend to be more likely to fail the Virginia Standard of Learning (SOL) tests and thus delaying their graduation. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of expressive writing on general anxiety, math anxiety, stress, cognitive processes and psychological processes on the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) on a sample of urban high school students failing mathematics. The participants (n=93) male and female students in grades 9-12, ranged in ages from 14 to 19 years of age, from various socio-economic backgrounds. The intact classes were used to reduce disruption of the instructional process and to encourage teacher cooperation. The experimental group (n=54) wrote on a value latent topic and the control group (n=39) wrote on a neutral topic. When compared to the control group, statistically significant results revealed the experimental group reported lesser levels of anxiety after the writing intervention. Both the experimental group and the control group had a reduction in math anxiety after the expressive writing intervention. During the SOL geometry mathematics test, the experimental group had a 52% pass rate and the control group had a 49% pass rate.