Megan MurphyFor this research paper, I chose to study student anxiety in timed writing assessments. The reason for studying this topic is to gain insight in how much anxiety plays a part in the way a student performs on writing assessments when they are timed. This research would benefit students, teachers and writers alike because almost everyone has experienced some aspect of participation in a timed assessment, whether teaching or taking one. Through gathering this research, I found it beneficial to see the different aspects that go into causing student anxiety and why it affects them through taking a timed test. I think that this research would also be useful to any teacher or parent struggling with a child who has anxiety towards tests. For this research, I only used scholarly journals that related to the topic and were dated back to the early 1970’s up until the most recent, in 2002.
Hill, Kennedy T. and Allan Wigfield. “Test Anxiety: A Major Educational Problem and What Can Be Done About It”. The Elementary School Journal. (1984): 105-126. JSTOR.
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Petroskey, Anthony. “Research Roundup: Apprehension, Attitudes and Writing”. The English Journal. (1976): 74-77. JSTOR. Roesch Lib., U of
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Anthony Petroskey discusses in this article how apprehension is an anxiety trait and how it plays a part in test taking and also communication in general. Petroskey argues that when this apprehension is present in the classroom, it is harder for students to learn how to write and for the teachers to teach the act of writing. Because of this, he found that when students have this apprehension, and aren’t even taking the writing section of SAT’s but are actually being scored in the verbal section, their perception of success is being lowered. Because of these findings, Petroskey developed a “writing apprehension instrument” that teachers can use in instructional settings that can help both teachers and students have a better guide of who needs help with their writing and who does not. If the teachers used this instrument and then realized who needed more help, the students would feel less anxiety about their writing and would have a better attitude about it. If the students get enough instruction about their writing before taking the standardized tests, they would be able to perform better and feel less stress. This article is important to my research because it identifies students who feel anxiety about their writing and therefore have trouble performing well on both the verbal and written section of the SAT’s. The results of the study also pertain to my main research goal.
Powers, Donald E. and Mary E. Fowles. “Effects of Applying Different Time Limits to a
Proposed GRE Writing Test”. Journal of Educational Measurement. (1996): 433-452.
JSTOR. Roesch Lib., U of
In this article, the researchers did a study on three hundred volunteers who were prospective graduate students. In the study, the volunteers had to write two essays, both of which were timed. The first essay they had to write they were only given forty minutes, while in the second they were given sixty minutes. Through this study, the researchers were trying to see if the time had anything to do with the way that the volunteers performed. They discuss the background of tests often given to college students and differentiate between “power tests” and “speed tests”. Through the discussion of these two kinds of tests, the researchers found that although strict time limits may negatively affect a student’s performance, most people feel that standardized tests are only fair if every student had to perform within the same time limitations. The researchers found that although standardized tests seem fair to everyone, they are not a good representation of how well that person writes. Through their findings, the researchers realized that although the examinees had a better test performance when they were give sixty minutes instead of forty, there was “no detectable effect of different time limits on the meaning of essay scores”. This study is important to my research because it exemplifies the correlation between timed writing assessment and the way students perform on them.
Shavelson, Richard and Gail Baxter. “Sampling Variability of Performance Assessments”. Journal of Educational Measurement. (1993): 215-232. JSTOR. Roesch Lib., U of
In this article, the author describes general performance assessments and the wide range they are used in multiple fields. They begin by recognizing that performance assessments are something that have been used as political instruments for a very long time but have moved into school districts as a measurement of performance and success. The authors discuss how the curriculum could be raised if these assessments were used, and therefore the student’s achievements would be higher. The authors also recognize factors going against these performance assessments. For example, the cost of the tests and how much time it takes out of the school year for the teachers to give them to the students. They also bring up the issue that judging the answers has become a problem of discrimination. Different student disabilities have become a problem in allowing who should take these tests and whom they are appropriate for. Through differentiating between the two, they then have to find a new way to judge the tests depending on the disability. Although some of this article deals with test anxiety and the pressures that go alone with performance assessments, the second half of the article deals with a separate study. I would use the beginning of the article that is useful in understanding how these assessments affect children.
Shepard, Lorrie and Carribeth Bliem. “Parent’s Thinking About Standardized Tests and
Performance Assessments”. Educational Researcher. (1995): 25-32. JSTOR. Roesch
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Simmons, John. “Testing on Both Sides: A Comparison”. The English Journal. (1987): 27-29.
JSTOR. Roesch Lib., U of
In this article, the author discusses when the statewide testing first came into affect in the
Trentham, Linda. “The Effect of Distractions on Sixth-Grade Students in a Testing Situation”.
Journal of Educational Measurement. (1975): 13-17. JSTOR. Roesch Lib., U of
Throughout this article, the author studies whether or not distractions in the classroom affect the grades students receive on exams. In the study, Trentham exposes a classroom to two different kinds of test taking conditions. In the first group, the students took a test in the most “ideal” environment for test taking, in a very quiet room. Then they were placed into a room with many distractions such as pencils breaking and loud arguing going on in the hallway. In the researcher’s results, it was found that there were no differences in the student’s scores between the two groups. Trentham goes on to give several more examples of different age groups who were placed in these same kinds of settings. She explains that only with elementary children were they much more distracted by the other things that were going on in the room. But in all of the studies done with high school and college students the results were the same; the distractions didn’t affect their scores. Because the distraction level changed somewhere between elementary school and high school, Trentham decided to do another study seventy-two sixth graders who were randomly selected from three different schools in Kentucky. She included eight distractions ranging from kittens being dropped into the room to a radio being played for thirty seconds. She found that it was true that students who were in the room with the distractions performed worse than the subjects in the non-distraction room. Therefore, the change in the level of distraction has to occur later than middle school. These studies are very important to my research because it gives a wide variety of examples of how students are affected by distractions in the room when they are taking exams. These distractions can cause anxiety and therefore could cause them to receive a lower score.
Walen, Sharon B. and Steven R. Williams. “A Matter of Time: Emotional Responses to Timed
Mathematics Tests”. Educational Studies in Mathematics. (2002): 361-378. JSTOR.
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This study focuses on the emotional responses to three different individuals to timed mathematics tests. The authors examined two adult women who reflect on their experiences “taking skills-tests” and a third grade girl who is currently taking these tests. The authors found that their negative emotional responses didn’t have everything to do with the specific course (mathematics) or to the fact that they were being assessed, but more towards the timed nature of the tests they had to take. The authors also found a direct correlation between the anxiety the students felt about doing well on the assessment and their achievement. The authors also incorporate many other studies don’t by past theorists who have found the same kind of results. These other studies also support the authors main point that timed writing assessment anxiety can occur as early as grade three because the students recognize the competition they have with their peers.