Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Test-Anxiety-Provoking Stimuli among Undergraduate Students

Academic journal article Journal of Behavioural Sciences

Test-Anxiety-Provoking Stimuli among Undergraduate Students

Article excerpt

During all phases of education, tests and examinations are considered as an essential and useful tool to assess student's skills, aptitude and achievement level. Students need to deal with anxiety related problems in order to perform well in academics. Test anxiety is one of the major problems that can hinder academic performance and it is considered as an obstacle in achieving good grades (Sarason, 1984). The academic environment overstresses the significance of examinations and academic achievements. The test conscious atmosphere fosters anxiety and adversely affects student's scholastic performance (Asghari, Kadir, Elias, & Baba, 2012).

Test anxiety is a particular form of anxiety that arises when an individual is being assessed in testing and evaluative settings (Colwell, 2013). Test anxiety can be defined as "The set of phenomenological, physiological and behavioral responses that accompany concern about possible negative consequences or failure in the examination or similar evaluative situation" (Zeidner, 1998, p. 17). Almost everyone experiences test anxiety however for some students anxiety interferes with their learning and test performance (Wittmaier, 1972). It is considered to be normal to experience anxiety before the exam; in fact, appropriate level of test related anxiety may improve student's concentration, memory and motivation for test preparation. This appropriate level of test anxiety is required to prepare and perform well on tests (Salend, 2011).

Pioneers in this area have identified the facilitating and debilitating functions of test anxiety (Alpert & Haber, 1960). Facilitating anxiety motivates students to perform better in an evaluative situation. Thus, test anxiety does not adversely affect the performance unless it is stretched out for extended duration (Barrows, Dunn, & Lloyd, 2013). In contrast with facilitating anxiety, debilitating anxiety interferes with learning and test performance (Alpert & Haber, 1960). Debilitating test anxiety hampers the academic potential of the students. It reduces students anticipated scholastic performance determined by their intellectual ability. Students become unable to exhibit their true accomplishment due to high level of test anxiety (Gonzalez, 1995).

In literature, not only the functions of the test anxiety but cognitive and affective attributes of test anxiety have also been broadly acknowledged. These two dimensions of test anxiety are labeled as worry and emotionality respectively (Liebert & Morris, 1967). Emotionality is the affective component of test anxiety which is associated with physiological reactions to the evaluative situations. It involves manifestation of physiological symptoms and emotional reactions during the testing circumstances (Liebert & Morris, 1967). The bodily reactions involved in the emotionality component are dizziness, increased heart rate, sweating, panic attacks or feeling sick (Hembree, 1988). In contrast, worry is defined as the cognitive component of test anxiety. It involves the cognitive reactions associated with test anxiety and concerns about being evaluated during testing situation.

Test anxiety is a serious issue which captured the attention of many researchers and therefore many theoretical models were developed to understand the mechanism of test anxiety. These theoretical models of test anxiety tried to explain the complex nature and aspects of test anxiety (Zeidner, 1998). Wine's (1971) attention interpretation model of test anxiety was one of the earliest models. It proposed that high test anxious individuals are prone to be preoccupied with worries that make them unable to concentrate on task relevant information. In contrast, skillsdeficit model suggested that students having ineffective study habits experience high level of test anxiety which in turn results in poor test performance. While preparing for examination, high test anxious students encode material inadequately and thus they are unable to recall poorly learned material during the examination (Culler & Holahan, 1980). …

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