The 3 X 2 Achievement Goal Model in Predicting Online Student Test Anxiety and Help-Seeking

By Yang, Yan; Taylor, Jeff et al. | International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

The 3 X 2 Achievement Goal Model in Predicting Online Student Test Anxiety and Help-Seeking


Yang, Yan, Taylor, Jeff, Cao, Li, International Journal of E-Learning & Distance Education


Introduction

In the past decade, online education has become an important part of public universities in the United States and is becoming increasingly prevalent globally. Students enroll in online classes at a more rapidly increasing rate than traditional classes (Goldberg & Reimer, 2006). This increase in online enrollment is consistent across all ages and is expected to continue (Hoskins, 2011). To meet the needs of growing distance education, research in e-learning has been on the rise in recent years. However, still in its infancy stage, research in e-learning has much to explore in order to understand and overcome the unique challenges of e-learning and to achieve student success (McInnerney & Roberts, 2004; Dunn, Rakes, & Rakes, 2014). Among these challenges, the asynchronous nature of online courses have resulted in a communication barrier between students and teachers, leading to anxiety and hesitation in help-seeking which could be critical to student success (Dunn et al., 2014; Schworm & Gruber, 2012; Song Tryon & Bishop, 2009). Many online students reported a feeling of isolation and anxiety, and less willingness in seeking help than traditional students in face-to-face classes, due to an absence of a relationship with their instructors and peers (McInnerney & Roberts, 2004; Song Tryon & Bishop, 2004; Vonderwell, 2003). Addressing anxiety and increasing help-seeking of online students, therefore, is of great importance for effective e-learning and instructional designing.

Recent research shows that test anxiety, among other types of anxiety, continues to affect students' learning and academic achievement in online settings (Joo, Lim, & Kim, 2012; von der Embse & Hasson, 2012). As a significant predictor of overall class performance (Huang, 2011), test anxiety plays a critical role in high-stakes standardized testing, one of the primary means of assessment in college-level courses (von der Embse & Hasson, 2012). For instance, in the summary of a literature review, Zeidner and Matthews (2005) reported an average correlation of -0.2 to -0.3 between test anxiety and academic performance, confirming the detrimental effects of test anxiety (Madsen, 1981). Test anxiety may cause a student to make reckless mistakes during testing as they rush to complete the test in time, thus lowering their grade on the test (Stowell, & Bennett, 2010). Further, Bembenutty, McKeachie, Karabenick, and Lin (1998) observed that consistently harboring high test anxiety may cause a student to lose motivation in other areas of course work, further hindering their success.

While taking a test over the Internet instead of face-to-face may reduce test anxiety for most students (Cassady & Gridley, 2005; McGorry, 2012; Pentina & Neeley, 2007; Stowell, & Bennett, 2010), multiple studies show that test anxiety continues to significantly restrain student performance in online courses (Bembenutty et al., 1998; Joo, Lim, & Kim, 2012; Stowell, & Bennett, 2010; von der Embse & Hasson, 2012). While online students do not have to worry so much about distractions, it seems that the time constraints and general intimidating nature of a standardized test still hinders online students in a way similar to traditional classrooms. Therefore, it is important to inspect antecedents of test anxiety and its implications in online settings. Whereas many students continue experiencing test anxiety in online settings, they are found to be less willing to seek help than in traditional face-to-face classes (McInnerney & Roberts, 2004; Song Tryon & Bishop, 2004; Vonderwell, 2003).

As an important strategy of self-regulated learning (Bembenutty et al., 1998; Järvelä, Järvenoja, & Malmberg, 2012), appropriate help-seeking plays an essential role in students' academic success (Ryan et al., 1998). This has been found to be even more true for online classes (Mahasneh, Sowan, & Nassar, 2012) because various aspects of an online class can be confusing to students who are unfamiliar with them, in addition to many unique challenges of e-learning such as the asynchronous nature, the potential communication disconnect, and a sense of isolation. …

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