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1Sara Dool, M.S. Michelle Storie, Ph.D Take Control of Your Test Anxiety: Reducing Test Anxiety in a Whole-Class FormatNYASP Conference 2014Sara Dool, M.S. Michelle Storie, Ph.DLiverpool Central Schools North Syracuse Central Schools
2Agenda Research Program Information Assessment Measure Intervention ResultsImplementation Tips & Suggestions
3Test Anxiety Background Test anxiety affects 10-40% of all students (Gregor, 2005)Beidel and Turner (1988) found that 60% of youth identified as displaying test anxiety symptoms also met diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorderTest anxiety has been found to be strongly correlated with symptoms of anxiety disorders and affects a student’s academic and testing performance (Beidel & Turner, 1988; Cheek, Bradley, Reynolds, & Coy, 2002)
4Test Anxiety and High-Stakes Tests Test anxiety appears to be greater for high-stakes assessments than regular classroom examsA study conducted by Segool, Carlson, Von Der Embse, & Barterian (2013) found that students reported significantly greater levels of test anxiety in response to high-stakes test measures in comparison to classroom tests, both for physiological and cognitive symptoms
5Anxiety Intervention Techniques Cognitive-behavioral techniques have been found to be effective when working with students with anxiety and have shown average effect sizes of (Cheek, Bradley, Reynolds, & Coy, 2002)A meta-analysis conducted by Von Der Embse, Baterian, & Segool (2013) suggested that 9 of 10 studies within the past decade reported positive effect sizes, yet the majority of studies were conducted with high school students
6Anxiety Intervention Techniques Far less research has targeted elementary populationsThose studies that have addressed elementary school students tend to do so in a pull-out format, in which students miss classroom instruction thus potentially increasing anxiety (Cheek, Bradley, Reynolds, & McCoy, 2002)
7Anxiety Intervention Techniques Cheek, et al. (2002) utilized a “Stop, Drop, and Roll” technique to address test anxiety in 16 students identified as test-anxious, and found not only improvements in self-reported test anxiety, but successful testing performance in the majority of students who took the statewide testsOf the 16 students selected for inclusion in the intervention, 50% had failed the reading portion of a benchmark test while 67% had failed the math portion. Following the intervention, 75% of students passed the reading test, while 94% passed the math portion
8Current StudyResearchers attempted to incorporate the effective techniques from the meta-analysis, as well as the Cheek, et al. (2002) study, and adapt them to elementary school students in a whole-class settingA primary goal was to implement a classwide intervention with the focus of decreasing test anxiety and providing strategies that could be easily utilized and accessed by the students
9Reason For ReferralFourth grade teacher reports of high levels of test anxietySeveral students already participating in small group or individual counseling due to anxietyHigh level of teacher interest in a grade level intervention focusing on the reduction of test anxiety
10Sample Suburban/rural school district K-6 elementary school 3 fourth grade classrooms38 students20 females18 males
11Assessment Measure Westside Test Anxiety Scale (Driscoll, 2004) brief, 10 item instrument designed to screen and identify students who could benefit from an anxiety-reduction intervention6 of the items assess performance impairmenti.e. “I lose focus on important exams and can’t remember the material I knew before the exam”4 items examine worry and fears of failurei.e. “During important exams, I think that I am doing awful or that I may fail”.rate each item on a scale of 1 to 51 = never true and 5 = always trueResponses are summed and divided by 10 to determine a score meaning1.0 to 1.9 = comfortably low test anxiety2.0 to 2.5 = average test anxiety2.5 to 2.9 = high normal test anxiety3.0 to 3.4 = moderately high test anxiety3.5 to 3.9 = high test anxiety4.0 to 5.0 = extremely high test anxiety
12Westside Test Anxiety Scale Rate how true each of the following is of you, from extremely or always true, to not at all or never true.Use the following 5 point scale. Circle your answers:extremely highly moderately slightly not at allalways usually sometimes seldom nevertrue true true true true__ 1) The closer I am to a major exam, the harder it is for me to concentrate on the material.__ 2) When I study for my exams, I worry that I will not remember the material on the exam.__ 3) During important exams, I think that I am doing awful or that I may fail.__ 4) I lose focus on important exams, and I cannot remember material that I knew before the exam.__ 5) I finally remember the answer to exam questions after the exam is already over.
14Baseline Data6 out of the 12 students in classroom 1 that completed the pre-assessment self-rated as having “moderately high” to “extremely high” levels of test anxiety
15Baseline Data6 out of the 13 students in the classroom that completed the pre-assessment self-rated as having “moderately high” to “high” levels of test anxiety
16Baseline Data6 out of 13 students in classroom 3 self-rated as having “moderately high” to “extremely high” levels of test anxiety
17Baseline Data Summary18 out of 38 fourth graders self-rated on the pre-assessment that they experience “moderately high”, “high”, and “extremely high” levels of test anxietygoal of this intervention= decrease # of students self-reporting “moderately high” to “extremely high” levels of test anxiety by the end of the intervention phasepost-assessment data should result in a negative effect size.
18Intervention 25 minutes per classroom 1x week for 7 weeks Lesson foci: General knowledge of test anxietyRelaxation techniquesPositive self-talkNote taking strategiesStudy skillsTest-taking strategiesReview and practice
19Lesson 1- Introduction to Test Anxiety Fly Swatter Gameinitial lesson focused on educating students about test anxiety in general. The consultant described what test anxiety is, the causes of it, and the physical and emotional symptoms. Following this introduction, the students played the “Test Anxiety Fly Swatter game”, which required students to listen to a statement about test anxiety, determine if it was a fact/true or myth/false, and respond by hitting the appropriate sign with a fly swatter.Game Questions:Test anxiety cannot be reduced. (False)All test anxiety is bad. (False)All students who are not prepared have test anxiety. (false)Some test anxiety can be a good thing. (true)Very smart students do not have test anxiety. (false)Having test anxiety means you are weak. (false)It’s a type of performance anxiety. (true)Students who study do not have test anxiety. (False)Test anxiety can make you freeze up or forget information you have learned. (true)It interferes with your concentration. (true)Test anxiety prevents you from doing your best. (true)It is caused by the food you eat. (false)The physical symptoms are caused by adrenaline. (true)The more you think about it, the stronger the anxiety gets. (true)Students with test anxiety cannot learn anything. (False)Test anxiety can cause you to think “What if…?” thoughts. (true)Having test anxiety means you are crazy. (false)Only adults/boys/girls get test anxiety. (false)It can make you sweaty. (true)It can cause dry mouth. (true)Doing nothing about test anxiety will make it go away. (false)It can make your heart beat fast. (true)Sometimes it makes your head or stomach hurt. (true)Test anxiety makes you feel happy. (false)Test anxiety can make you feel discouraged. (true)It can have an impact on your self-esteem (how you feel about yourself). (true)Deep breathing can help you relax. (true)Not eating or sleeping will make the test anxiety go away. (false)Relaxation exercises help decrease test anxiety. (true)Doing all of my homework should reduce my test anxiety. (false)Using test taking strategies is helpful. (true)Study skills are important. (true)Test anxiety can make your body feel different. (true)Thinking negatively is the best way to fight test anxiety. (false)Talking to someone about your test anxiety can help you feel better. (true)
20Lesson 2- Deep Breathing & Yoga second lesson taught students different types of relaxation techniques. First, the students completed a test anxiety hierarchy worksheet to help them identify the times to best utilize the relaxation strategies. For example, many students identified being the most anxious the night before or morning of a test. Next the consultant taught the students deep breathing by reading aloud a script teaching how to do deep breathing correctly. Once students mastered the skill of deep breathing, the consultant played a video clip demonstrating various yoga poses. The lesson concluded with a class discussion of other types of activities that could be utilized as forms of relaxation, such as exerciseclick angry bird for breathingclick poses for yoga video
21Lesson 3- Progressive Muscle Relaxation & Guided Imagery https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTDNYjk-Gw click turtle to openClick on grand canyon picture to open powerpointthird lesson continued to focus on teaching strategies for relaxation. The consultant began by reviewing the benefits of relaxation strategies, especially the impact it can have on negative feelings like anxiety. Next, the consultant introduced the strategy of progressive muscle relaxation. Students practiced this strategy by listening to and following along with a guided muscle relaxation sound clip. Then the consultant introduced the tool of visualization or guided imagery. A PowerPoint presentation of a guided trip to the Grand Canyon allowed the students to practice this strategy
22Lesson 4- Positive Self-Talk Click picture to go to other presentationfourth lesson focused on the concept of positive self-talk. The consultant discussed what self-talk is, the difference between positive and negative self-talk, and how self-talk can impact levels of test anxiety. After the introduction to self-talk, the consultant divided the students into two teams and had them play “Are You Smarter Than Test Anxiety?” a PowerPoint game. The game covered feelings associated with positive and negative self-talk, the identification of positive and negative self-talk statements, and required students to turn negative self-talk statements into positive ones
23Lesson 5- Note Taking & Study Skills Listen carefully for clues from teacher- “This is important”Ask questionsOrganize notes by topicFind out key information-what will be on test, type of testFind a quiet placeMap out study sessionsSet a goal for each study time- “I will review 2 pages of math notes”Take short breaksCover up notes & summarize out loudMake flashcards & practice with study buddyCrazy phrases & silly sentences, acronyms, picturesLesson five concentrated on effective study skills. The consultant covered tips for note taking, creation of study tools like flashcards, when and where to study, and how to create a study schedule with goals. Next, the students played “Study Skills Bingo” to reinforce the strategies
24Lesson 6- Test-Taking Strategies sixth lesson focused on specific test-taking strategies. The consultant created a PowerPoint presentation with questions pertaining to varying test-taking strategies. For instance, questions asked students about how to eliminate answers and make educated guesses, how to unpack questions, and how to plan for written responses. At the conclusion of the lesson, the students were given a worksheet with a picture of a game control and specific test-taking strategies assigned to each part of the control to use as a reference in the future
25Lesson 7- Review Summarized & reviewed all strategies discussed Students played Fly Swatter review gameStudents completed the post-assessment with the Westside Test Anxiety ScaleAlso completed a survey regarding their perceptions of the program
26Resultsstudents in classroom 1 self-rated lower levels of test anxiety after the “Take Control of Test Anxiety Program” intervention. Moreover, more students indicated they were experiencing “average” and “comfortably low” levels of test anxiety after intervention.
27Resultsstudents in classroom 2 demonstrated similar declines in self-reported levels of test anxiety. During the pre-assessment, 5 students self-rated “comfortably low” or “average” levels of test anxiety, while this increased to 9 students at the post-assessment. Also of interest, 5 students self-reported “moderately high” test anxiety on the pre-assessment, but there were zero ratings for this category on the post-assessment.
28Resultsstudents in classroom 3 also experienced declines in self-reported levels of test anxiety. Prior to intervention, half of the students reported higher levels of test anxiety, however, post-intervention 9 out of 13 students self-rated levels of test anxiety ranging from “high normal” to “comfortably low”.
29Results Summary Pre-intervention Post-intervention 18 out of 38 fourth graders rated test anxiety levels in the “moderately high”, “high”, or “extremely high” rangePost-interventionOnly 9 out of 38 fourth graders reported abnormal levels of test anxietyIntervention met the goal of decreasing # of students self-reporting “moderately high”, “high”, and “extremely high” levels of test anxietyEffect size= -.58 (medium range)Student survey- Majority of students that felt as though they had test anxiety prior to the intervention felt that their test anxiety was lower at the conclusion of the intervention31 students responded that they found the strategies taught helpful or somewhat helpful35 students reported that they would likely use the strategies in the futureRelaxation techniques=student favoritesTeacher survey- High acceptabilityFound the program to be beneficial to their studentsRelaxation techniques were the most helpfulOne of the teachers even noted that she used some of the strategies on her ownStated that they would participate againWould recommend the intervention for other grade levels
31Tips/Suggestions for Implementation Blanket consent form distributed to all with “opt-out” optionTarget teachers with more high-stakes testingBegin with an icebreaker for rapportHave the teachers participate to help teach them how to utilize the strategies effectivelyIncorporate hands-on activities when possible
32Referencesclick angry bird for breathingclick poses for yoga videohttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTDNYjk-Gw progressive muscle relaxationgrand canyon guided imagerystudy skills bingo
33ReferencesBeidel, D. & Turner, S. (1988). Comorbidity of test anxiety and other anxiety disorders in children. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 16(3),Cheek, J. R., Bradley, L. J., Reynolds, J. & Coy, D. (2002). An intervention for helping elementary students reduce test anxiety. Professional School Counseling, 6(2), Driscoll, R. (2004). Westside Test Anxiety Scale. Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED pdf. Gregor, A. (2005). Examination anxiety: live with it, control it or make it work for you? School Psychology International Journal, 26(5), Larson, H. A., Yoder, A., Johnson, C., El Rahami, M., Sung, J., & Washburn, F. (2010). Test anxiety and relaxation training in third-grade students. Eastern Education Journal, 39(1), Segool, N., Carlson, J., Goforth, A., Von Der Embse, N., & Barterian, J. (2013). Heightened test anxiety among young children: elementary school students’ anxious responses to high-stakes testing, Psychology in the Schools, 50(5),Von Der Embse, N., Barterian, J., & Segool, N. (2013). Test anxiety interventions for children and adolescents: a systematic review of treatment studies from , Psychology in the Schools, 50(1),