I am commenting on Kyle’s post which can be found here.
I really enjoyed Kyle’s post and think it gave a clear summary of the problem: that stress, such as the pressure of an upcoming exam or assignment deadline, can cause the brain to create hormones and chemicals that prevent successful learning. He also provided a number of useful for suggestions to help create a less stressful classroom environment.
However, the exam pressure will still be there, especially for students studying in states that have centralised exams for university entrance. Pintrich & de Groot (1990) found a negative relationship between test anxiety and both self-efficacy and self-regulation. The comments of students in this study revealed that although test anxiety didn’t impinge on the students’ ability to process and organise new knowledge, test anxiety did prevent them from retrieving the information in an exam setting. It is therefore important not only for the students’ results, but for their self-efficacy, to teach students strategies to cope with anxiety.
The first step Wayne could take to specifically help alleviate exam stress is to teach his students about how their brains work. Teaching students what is occurring in their brains when they are nervous, and how this manifests in physical and mental symptoms, demystifies the situation and can help empower students. It can help students feel more in control of their bodies and their emotions. Secondly, Wayne should explain and model anxiety management strategies to the students, and give them opportunities to practice these in the safety of the classroom to find out which ones work for them. This will result in more self-aware, self-regulated learners who not only are prepared to take and exam, but feel prepared to take an exam.
Pintrich, P., de Groot, E., (1990). Motivational and self-regulated learning components of classroom academic performance. Journal of Educational Psychology. 82(1) pp. 33-40.