Date of Graduation

7-2021

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Human Resource and Workforce Development (EdD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders

Advisor

James Maddox

Committee Member

Mandel G. Samuels

Second Committee Member

Paul Blisard

Keywords

Accommodations, Adult learning, Andragogy, Anxiety, Business education, Disorders, Human Resource Development

Abstract

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S. and affect 40 million adults, or 18.1% of the population each year. Anxiety plays an essential role in encouraging productive learning outcomes; however, uncontrolled anxiety could result in heightened emotions that create barriers to learning. Employees who have anxiety disorders may experience these barriers to learning when in traditional training programs and may require support or accommodations to boost their unique learning needs for development in the workplace. Human Resource Development (HRD) professionals’ challenge is how best to intervene when an employee exhibits behaviors of learning anxiety to nurture and promote productive workplace learning that leads to skill development and career advancement. This basic qualitative study seeks to determine how individuals with an anxiety disorder may be better supported in the workplace through accommodations and using best practices in anxiety management that are typically applied in clinical settings or formal education environments. The research questions ask how individuals respond to anxiety in workplace learning and what practices they feel would help them manage the heightened anxiety. Data was collected through semi-structured interviews consisting of open-ended questions. The voluntary participants, who self-identified as having learning anxiety, were selected using theoretical random sampling. Content analysis was applied to examine the data for codes, categories, and themes. Key results indicate that learning is impaired, which negatively impacts learning and job performance when one experiences learning anxiety. The data also revealed that the participants believed they would benefit from accommodations provided by HRD professionals who understand the detrimental impact of learning anxiety.

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