Abstract: Universities are increasingly cognizant of the importance of attending to the psychological and emotional needs of undergraduate learners, recognizing that anxiety and depression have significant negative impacts on student retention and success. The focus of the current study was to evaluate the connections among various forms of anxiety and examine the relationships these indicators of anxiety have with depression. The results demonstrated that a broad measure of neuroticism was a meaningful predictor for depression. However, precision in detecting depressive symptoms was improved when examining an additional measure specifically focused on academic anxiety. The results provide support for a nested model of anxiety, which suggests that broad neuroticism, then academic anxiety, and finally test anxiety are progressively more specific manifestations of anxiety in university students. The collection of these findings provide early indication of avenues that may support learners who are beginning to exhibit signs of emotional distress, potentially reducing the tendency to progress from a contextual anxiety response to more serious mental health concerns.
Universities are increasingly cognizant of the importance of attending to the psychological and emotional needs of undergraduate learners, recognizing that anxiety and depression have significant negative impacts on student retention and success. The focus of the current study was to evaluate the connections among various forms of anxiety and examine the relationships these indicators of anxiety have with depression. The results demonstrated that a broad measure of neuroticism was a meaningful predictor for depression. However, precision in detecting depressive symptoms was improved when examining an additional measure specifically focused on academic anxiety. The results provide support for a nested model of anxiety, which suggests that broad neuroticism, then academic anxiety, and finally test anxiety are progressively more specific manifestations of anxiety in university students. The collection of these findings provide early indication of avenues that may support learners who are beginning to exhibit signs of emotional distress, potentially reducing the tendency to progress from a contextual anxiety response to more serious mental health concerns.
Colleagues from Bryan College of Health Sciences recently conducted a study exploring the effectiveness of anxiety-reducing techniques in alleviating the experience of cognitive test anxiety. Their study is one of the first to use test anxiety severity standards to demonstrate that practicing select anxiety-reducing techniques can lead to meaningful reductions in test anxiety. A complete overview of the study can be found using the link below.
Link to full text: Reducing Undergraduate Healthcare Students Test Anxiety
This study explored factors with the potential to exert facilitative and debilitative influence on undergraduate students’ academic performance. Participants responded to the Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale, COPE inventory, and Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale-Revised and agreed to have their responses paired with institutional performance data. Analyses tested the iterative and collective influence of the identified variables on four-year GPA after controlling for previous academic performance (first-year GPA). The examination revealed cognitive test anxiety and use of emotion-focused coping strategies were significant predictors of students’ long-term academic outcomes such that increased cognitive test anxiety and increased use of emotion-focused coping strategies were associated with decreases in four-year GPA. The results inform the nature of the influence these student factors have on long-term academic outcomes and highlight the importance of developing a multifaceted intervention model that supports emotion regulation and self-regulation skill development to buffer the impact of cognitive test anxiety on achievement.
Link to full text: Thomas, Cassady, & Heller, 2017 – Learning and Individual Differences
The purpose of the current examination was to preliminarily suggest severity standards for the recently revised Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale–Second Edition (CTAS-2). Participants responded to the CTAS-2, Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ), and FRIEDBEN Test Anxiety Scale. Using both latent class and cluster analyses, we were able to classify participants as belonging to one of the three distinct cognitive test anxiety profiles—low, moderate, and high. Comparison of the identified test anxiety profiles allowed us to generate a set of severity standards for the CTAS-2 that can be used to differentiate between individuals with differing levels of cognitive test anxiety. The validity of the severity standards was established through group comparisons of test-anxious students on the MSLQ–Text Anxiety, FRIEDBEN–Cognitive Obstruction, FRIEDBEN–Social Derogation, and FRIEDBEN–Physiological Tenseness scales. Discussion concerns the practical implications of establishing CTAS-2 severity standards for educators, student support staff, and learners.
This chapter provides an excellent overview as to how to effectively plan and write empirical articles.
Link to chapter: http://dbem.ws/WritingArticle.pdf
Abstract:The United States is currently not producing enough graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields to meet the demands of a technology-dependent society. Although there are many efforts in place to improve STEM education
The United States is currently not producing enough graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields to meet the demands of a technology-dependent society. Although there are many efforts in place to improve STEM education in the United States, most notably, President Obama’s Educate to Innovate campaign, these efforts focus mostly on innovating the teaching of math content and less on the role of affective factors in math achievement. Here we discuss a phenomenon known as math anxiety (i.e., negative feelings of tension and fear that many people experience when engaging in math) and the implications math anxiety carries for math success and STEM engagement. We begin by highlighting the most recent findings from research in psychology, education, and neuroscience on math anxiety. We then discuss the consequences of math anxiety as well as likely causes and promising remediations. We suggest that the initiatives currently underway to improve STEM involvement and achievement would benefit from educating current and future teachers, parents, and even students about math anxiety, its causes, consequences, and possibilities for amelioration.
Educational accountability policies have led to a growth in the use of high-stakes examinations for a number of important educational decisions, including the evaluation of teacher effectiveness. As such, educators are under increasing pressure to raise student test performance. In an attempt to prepare students for a high-stakes exam, teachers often resort to using threat-based messages that focus on the negative consequences of test failure rather than messages highlighting students’ ability or expectation for high performance. However, the relative influence of teacher messaging (threat-based or facilitating) under different testing conditions is unknown. The present investigation examined the use of fear and efficacy appeals with 487 university students. Anxiety, motivation, and test performance data were collected during a typical, lower stakes testing situation and a higher-stakes, final course examination. A two-way mixed ANOVA and a mediation analysis were used to examine between (i.e. fear and efficacy appeals) and within (i.e. different testing conditions) subject factors. Results suggest that fear appeals significantly harm student test performance relative to efficacy appeals, even when controlling for the impact of intrinsic motivation on test anxiety. Contrary to prediction, student anxiety did not appear to explain the relationship between fear appeals and lowered test performance. The potential implications of findings are discussed, including the importance of instructional context with regards to teacher instructional practices and student success.
Two laboratory and two randomized field experiments tested a psychological intervention designed to improve students’ scores on high-stakes exams and to increase our understanding of why pressure-filled exam situations undermine some students’ performance. We expected that sitting for an important exam leads to worries about the situation and its consequences that undermine test performance. We tested whether having students write down their thoughts about an upcoming test could improve test performance. The intervention, a brief expressive writing assignment that occurred immediately before taking an important test, significantly improved students’ exam scores, especially for students habitually anxious about test taking. Simply writing about one’s worries before a high-stakes exam can boost test scores.
In an era of test-based accountability, there has been a renewed interest in understanding the relationship between test anxiety and test performance. The development and validation of test anxiety scales have grown with the rise of test anxiety research. Research is needed to critically examine the psychometric properties of these scales prior to widespread use. The purpose of this brief report is to demonstrate the use of latent profile analysis (LPA) to develop test anxiety profiles on the FRIEDBEN Test Anxiety Scale. LPA was performed using a sample of 1,133 students from five high schools in a Midwestern state. Results indicate three distinct test anxiety profiles (i.e., high, mid, and low anxiety profiles).
Abstract: A measure of mathematics anxiety, the Mathematics Anxiety Rat- ing Scale (MARS) has been a major scale used for research and clinical studies since 1972. Despite the usefulness of the original scale, researchers have sought a 5horter version of the scale partly to reduce the administration time of the original 96.1tem scale. This study created a shorter version of the MARS and provides reliability and validity information for the new version. The Cronbach alpha of .96 indicated high in- internal consistency, while the test-retest reliability for the MARS 30-item was .90 ( p < ,001). The validity data confirm that h e MARS 30-item test is comparable to the original MARS 98-item scale.
Use the following link to access the article: http://prx.sagepub.com/content/92/1/167.long
We examined the relation between pressure- induced performance decrements, or ‘‘choking under pressure,’’ in mathematical problem solving and individ- ual differences in working memory capacity. In cognitively based academic skills such as math, pressure is thought to harm performance by reducing the working memory ca- pacity available for skill execution. Results demonstrated that only individuals high in working memory capacity were harmed by performance pressure, and, furthermore, these skill decrements were limited to math problems with the highest demands on working memory capacity. These findings suggest that performance pressure harms indi- viduals most qualified to succeed by consuming the work- ing memory capacity that they rely on for their superior performance.
The research on test anxiety has repeatedly attempted to provide a more refined measurement of multiple di- dimensions of the construct. Divergence in the field has repeatedly arisen in the specific dimensions, but there is a broad acceptance that there are various manifestations of test anxiety. The current study attempts to specifically explore the potential for identifying subcomponents of the construct referred to as cognitive test anxiety. The analyses did not support the initial prediction that a temporal determination of factors (i.e., related to the Learning-Testing Cycle) would arise. Alternatively, exploratory factor mixture modeling (EFMM) demonstrated that there were two latent classes of students (based on levels of reported test anxiety). Furthermore, the EFMM demonstrated that the factorial structure of cognitive test anxiety differed between these two latent classes. Specifically, undergraduate students with low levels of cognitive test anxiety represented cognitive test anxiety as a unidimensional construct. However, for those students with high levels of test anxiety, there were two distinct factors. The results suggest that those learners with high-test anxiety are able to differentiate among more differ- ent “types” of test anxiety as compared to their non-anxious peers.
Link to Full Text: learning-and-individual-differences-2015-cassady
Two studies examined the effects of cognitive test anxiety on students’ memory,comprehension, and understanding of expository text passages in situations without externally-imposed evaluative pressure. The results gathered through structural equations modelling demonstrated a significant impact of cognitive test anxiety on performance in conditions with and without external evaluative pressure. The impact of cognitive test anxiety was stronger in those conditions with external evaluative pressure. The results are interpreted to support processing models of test anxiety that propose test anxiety interferes with learning through deficiencies in encoding, organization, and storage in addition to the classic interpretation of retrieval failures. In addition, the data provide support for additive models of test anxiety that address both stable and situational factors in the overall impact of cognitive test anxiety on performance.
Link to Full Text: cta-nonevaluativepressure
A new Spanish version of the Cognitive Test Anxiety Scale (CTAS) was created to be used explicitly with Argentinean university students. The scale was translated and verified through blind back translation and given to a large sample of students majoring in psychology or chemistry (N = 752). Exploratory Factor Analysis (N = 376) showed an internal structure of two factors that differed from the established English version of the CTAS. Examination of the items revealed that the factors were likely influenced by the phrasing of items that were originally designed to have several items require endorsement of low anxiety. Confirmatory factor analyses (N = 376) were conducted to compare the fit of three models for the scale. The results demonstrated that a 16-item single-factor solution was the preferable model. Further analyses demonstrated strong internal consistency, and test-retest stability of the short Spanish version. Results support the utility of the scale in future transcultural research on test anxiety with American and Argentinean learners.
Link to full text: furlan-cassady-perez-2009
A new measure that focused explicitly on the cognitive dimension of test anxiety was introduced and examined for psychometric quality as compared to existing measures of test anxiety. The new scale was found to be a reliable and valid measure of cognitive test anxiety. The impact of cognitive test anxiety as well as emotionality and test procrastination were subsequently evaluated on three course exams and students’ self-reported performance on the Scholastic Aptitude Test for 168 undergraduate students. Higher levels of cognitive test anxiety were associated with significantly lower test scores on each of the three course examinations. High levels of cognitive test anxiety also were associated with significantly lower Scholastic Aptitude Test scores. Procrastination, in contrast, was related to performance only on the course final examination. Gender differences in cognitive test anxiety were documented, but those differences were not related to performance on the course exams. Examination of the relation between the emotionality component of test anxiety and performance revealed that moderate levels of physiological arousal generally were associated with higher exam performance. The results were consistent with cognitive appraisal and information processing models of test anxiety and support the conclusion that cognitive test anxiety exerts a significant stable and negative impact on academic performance measures.