Results of this study are presented in two sub-sections. The first section evidences the scale’s validation and reliability, and the second section examines students’ social anxiety in accordance with their gender, age, and perceived academic performance.
Reliability and validity of the SASE
In total, 325 students participated in the study, with an overall response rate of 41.6%. Observations that distorted the data distribution and participants that did not fill the collection tool in accordance with the instruction were removed from the data set. Data of 306 students were used in the final data analysis. Six items with low construct validity were removed from the data collection tool.
Confirmatory factor analysis and model comparison
Table 1 presents three factor correlated model values of fit for original and English version. The results of alternative models here show that the three-factor model (i.e. negative evaluation, somatic symptoms, and avoidance of interaction), which was validated in the original scale development study, was thus confirmed. Figure 1 shows the factor-item parameters of the scale. According to the adaptation study, learner-learner interaction explained 61% of the total variance and learner-instructor interaction explained 67.96% of the total variance of the three-factor structure.
The standardised factor loads between the items of the scale and the factor structures showed that all factor loads were greater than 0.30. Further, the factor loads were statistically significant; therefore, it can be stated that a total of 40 items in learner-learner interaction and learner-instructor interaction successfully measured the assumed substructures, and the scales’ factorial validity is confirmed.
The reliability coefficients are expected to be greater than 0.70 and AVE values are greater than 0.50 (Nunnally & Bernstein, 1994). Moreover, AVE value must be less than the coefficient of construct validity. Table 2 presents the AVE values and reliability values of the scale
The AVE values for the sub-scale of learner-learner and learner-instructor interaction (Table 2) for all three factors were less than the structural reliability coefficients and greater than 0.50. Further, the structural reliability and the Cronbach’s Alfa (α) coefficients are expected to be greater than 0.70. As seen in Table 2, the scale met the requirements for convergence and divergence validity
Table 3 shows the inter-factor correlation coefficients and the square root values of the AVE values for the sub-scales. To verify the discriminant validity of the scale, the square root of each construct’s AVE must be higher than its correlation with another construct (Fornell & Larcker, 1981). As seen in Table 3, the values met this criterion and thus the discriminant validity of the scale was established
Examining social anxiety across gender and age
Regarding students’ characteristics, 189 (61.8%) respondents were male, whereas 117 (38.2%) respondents were female. Most students were aged 21 years or less (N = 244, 79.7%), while the rest (N = 62, 20.3%) were older than 21 years. Regarding marital status, 301(98.4%) students were single and five (1.6%) were married. There were 152 (49.7%) 3rd year medical students, 138 (45.1%) 4th year students, while 5th and 6th year accounted for minority (5.2%). In total, 209 (68.3%) respondents’ GPA were excellent (4.75–5), whereas 61 (19.9%) respondents’ GPA were considered as very good (4.5–4.74), and 36 (11.8%) respondents’ GPA was good (below < 4.5). When students were asked to describe their performance during e-learning, 144 (47.1%) agreed that their performance improved, while 73 (23.9%) reported that their performance decreased, and 89 (29.1%) did not find any change in their performance. Additionally, students in age group 21 years old or less had an excellent GPA of 5–4.75 compared to students in age group older than 21 years old (71.7% vs. 54.8%, chi-squared = 26.7, p < 0.001). No differences were found between male and female students regarding GPA. No significant differences were found in academic performance between male and female students during e-learning (p > 0.05)
Descriptive statistics for SASE scores and relationship between the subscales
The descriptive statistics reporting social anxiety in e-learning among the students are shown in Table 4: the SASE learner-learner (mean = 79.9, SD = 23.6, range 21–135) and learner-instructor social anxiety (mean = 77.8, SD = 26, range 22–138). Learner-learner social anxiety was strongly correlated to SASE learner-instructor social anxiety (r = 0.8, p < 0.001)
Gender, Age, and Interaction Effect
Factor variances met the equality of variances assumption (Box’s M = 13.3, F = 1.45, P = 0.161). The MANOVA results showed that gender had a significant effect on the combined subscales (Wilks’ λ = 0.97, F(2, 301) = 4.15, P = 0.02, partial η
2 = 0.03). Table 4 presents the means and standard deviations of the groups
The univariate analysis ANOVA on each subscale score (Table 5) found significant difference between female and male students in the learner-learner social anxiety subscale, after controlling for participants’ age (F(1,302) = 7.12, p = 0.008, partial η
2 = 0.03). The mean female students’ learner-learner social anxiety score (M = 86.3, SD = 24.6) was statistically significantly higher than that of the male students (M = 75.9, SD = 22.2). This difference has a relatively medium effect (Cohen’s d = 0.44)
The interaction between gender and learner-instructor social anxiety was not significant (p = 0.08). Female students’ learner-instructor social anxiety (M = 82.8, SD = 26.1) was higher than the learner-instructor social anxiety for male students (M = 74.7, SD = 25.6), but the difference was not statistically significant
A significant main effect for age group was found (Wilks’ λ = 0.96, F (2, 301) = 6.08, P = 0.003, partial η
2 = 0.04), indicating significant differences between the levels of age group on the subscales. The univariate analysis on each subscale score found significant difference between students younger than 21 years of age and those older than 21 years of age in the learner-instructor social anxiety subscale (F(1,302) = 6.22, p = 0.013, partial η
2 = 0.025). Students younger than 21 years of age had significantly higher learner-instructor social anxiety (M = 79.6, SD = 25.8) compared to students older than 21 years of age (M = 70.9, SD = 25.9). The overall effect was small to medium difference between age groups (Cohen’s d = 0.33). No statistically significant differences were found between age group in relation to the learner-learner social anxiety. Analyses did not detect a statistically significant gender by age group interaction effect (Wilks’ λ = 0.99, F(2,301) = 0.23, P = 0.79, Partial η
2 = 0.002)
Perception of performance in e-learning and SASE
In learner-learner interaction, the mean score of the students responded with a decrease in the academic performance (M = 83.6, SD = 20.4) was higher than those who reported no change (M = 82.1, SD = 24.20), and students who noticed an improved academic performance (M = 76.6, SD = 24.5). Similarly, in learner-instructor interaction, the highest mean score was for those who recorded a decrease in the academic performance (M = 81.9, SD = 22.9), while the least mean score was for students who observed an improved academic performance (M = 75.2, SD = 27.5). In addition, the mean score of students that reported no notable change in academic performance was (M = 78.6, SD = 25.9)
Results of multinomial regression analysis show that the model was not statistically significant (χ
2 = 6.4, p = 0.17), indicating that although social anxiety levels were higher in students with decreased perceived performance during e-learning compared to students with enhanced performance, the levels of social anxiety could not significantly differentiate between the perception of students’ performance