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Sara Dool, M.S. Michelle Storie, Ph.D

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1 Sara Dool, M.S. Michelle Storie, Ph.D
Take Control of Your Test Anxiety: Reducing Test Anxiety in a Whole-Class Format NYASP Conference 2014 Sara Dool, M.S. Michelle Storie, Ph.D Liverpool Central Schools North Syracuse Central Schools

2 Agenda Research Program Information Assessment Measure Intervention
Results Implementation Tips & Suggestions

3 Test 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 disorder Test 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)

4 Test Anxiety and High-Stakes Tests
Test anxiety appears to be greater for high-stakes assessments than regular classroom exams A 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

5 Anxiety 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

6 Anxiety Intervention Techniques
Far less research has targeted elementary populations Those 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)

7 Anxiety 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 tests Of 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

8 Current Study Researchers 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 setting A 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

9 Reason For Referral Fourth grade teacher reports of high levels of test anxiety Several students already participating in small group or individual counseling due to anxiety High level of teacher interest in a grade level intervention focusing on the reduction of test anxiety

10 Sample Suburban/rural school district K-6 elementary school
3 fourth grade classrooms 38 students 20 females 18 males

11 Assessment Measure Westside Test Anxiety Scale (Driscoll, 2004)
brief, 10 item instrument designed to screen and identify students who could benefit from an anxiety-reduction intervention 6 of the items assess performance impairment i.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 failure i.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 5 1 = never true and 5 = always true Responses are summed and divided by 10 to determine a score meaning 1.0 to 1.9 = comfortably low test anxiety 2.0 to 2.5 = average test anxiety 2.5 to 2.9 = high normal test anxiety 3.0 to 3.4 = moderately high test anxiety 3.5 to 3.9 = high test anxiety 4.0 to 5.0 = extremely high test anxiety

12 Westside 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 all always usually sometimes seldom never true 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.

13 Westside Test Anxiety Scale
__ 6) I worry so much before a major exam that I am too worn out to do my best on the exam. __ 7) I feel out of sorts or not really myself when I take important exams. __ 8) I find that my mind sometimes wanders when I am taking important exams. __ 9) After an exam, I worry about whether I did well enough. __ 10) I struggle with written assignments, or avoid doing them, because I feel that whatever I do will not be good enough. I want it to be perfect. _____ Sum of the 10 questions < _____ > Divide the sum by 10. This is your Test Anxiety score. Name ____________________ phone _____________ ____________________ School ____________ © 2004 by Richard Driscoll, Ph.D. You have permission to copy this material.

14 Baseline Data 6 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

15 Baseline Data 6 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

16 Baseline Data 6 out of 13 students in classroom 3 self-rated as having “moderately high” to “extremely high” levels of test anxiety

17 Baseline Data Summary 18 out of 38 fourth graders self-rated on the pre-assessment that they experience “moderately high”, “high”, and “extremely high” levels of test anxiety goal of this intervention= decrease # of students self-reporting “moderately high” to “extremely high” levels of test anxiety by the end of the intervention phase post-assessment data should result in a negative effect size.

18 Intervention 25 minutes per classroom 1x week for 7 weeks Lesson foci:
General knowledge of test anxiety Relaxation techniques Positive self-talk Note taking strategies Study skills Test-taking strategies Review and practice

19 Lesson 1- Introduction to Test Anxiety
Fly Swatter Game initial 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)

20 Lesson 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 exercise click angry bird for breathing click poses for yoga video

21 Lesson 3- Progressive Muscle Relaxation & Guided Imagery
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTDNYjk-Gw click turtle to open Click on grand canyon picture to open powerpoint third 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

22 Lesson 4- Positive Self-Talk
Click picture to go to other presentation fourth 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

23 Lesson 5- Note Taking & Study Skills
Listen carefully for clues from teacher- “This is important” Ask questions Organize notes by topic Find out key information-what will be on test, type of test Find a quiet place Map out study sessions Set a goal for each study time- “I will review 2 pages of math notes” Take short breaks Cover up notes & summarize out loud Make flashcards & practice with study buddy Crazy phrases & silly sentences, acronyms, pictures Lesson 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

24 Lesson 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

25 Lesson 7- Review Summarized & reviewed all strategies discussed
Students played Fly Swatter review game Students completed the post-assessment with the Westside Test Anxiety Scale Also completed a survey regarding their perceptions of the program

26 Results students 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.

27 Results students 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.

28 Results students 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”.

29 Results Summary Pre-intervention Post-intervention
18 out of 38 fourth graders rated test anxiety levels in the “moderately high”, “high”, or “extremely high” range Post-intervention Only 9 out of 38 fourth graders reported abnormal levels of test anxiety Intervention met the goal of decreasing # of students self-reporting “moderately high”, “high”, and “extremely high” levels of test anxiety Effect 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 intervention 31 students responded that they found the strategies taught helpful or somewhat helpful 35 students reported that they would likely use the strategies in the future Relaxation techniques=student favorites Teacher survey- High acceptability Found the program to be beneficial to their students Relaxation techniques were the most helpful One of the teachers even noted that she used some of the strategies on her own Stated that they would participate again Would recommend the intervention for other grade levels

30 Effect Size

31 Tips/Suggestions for Implementation
Blanket consent form distributed to all with “opt-out” option Target teachers with more high-stakes testing Begin with an icebreaker for rapport Have the teachers participate to help teach them how to utilize the strategies effectively Incorporate hands-on activities when possible

32 References click angry bird for breathing click poses for yoga video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aaTDNYjk-Gw progressive muscle relaxation grand canyon guided imagery study skills bingo

33 References Beidel, 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),


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