Understanding assessment anxiety during the student transition to university
About the project
Assessment is essential for quality teaching and learning. To accurately measure these processes, an institution must consider the physical and psychological environment in which assessments take place. Assessment conditions that create unnecessary stress and anxiety in the student are likely to produce flawed estimations of teaching and learning.
Although assessment anxiety is one of the most frequently researched topics in educational psychology, there are no empirical published works to our knowledge that have systematically examined assessment anxiety in the New Zealand university context. One particularly vulnerable group in tertiary education is the first-year student population, as students face a transition in which the learning environment, expectations and stakes, and assessment practices themselves differ greatly from high school.
A recent Ako Aotearoa Southern Hub RHPF project titled Addressing Common Student Problems with Assessment – Support Staff Perspectives highlighted some of the common problems that first-year university students in New Zealand tend to experience with regards to assessment.
Assessment anxiety—as well as its related learning contexts—emerged as a key issue worth exploring to improve upon existing tertiary practices.
The overarching aim of the project is to understand first-year New Zealand students’ experience with assessment anxiety while organising plausible, research-based solutions that students and staff could implement for enhanced performance, quality assessment, and a supportive university climate.
Design / Methodology
The project will use an explanatory mixed-method design with a longitudinal component. Samples from first-year students and academic/support staff will be obtained for a comprehensive understanding of assessment anxiety in New Zealand universities.
The project is expected to highlight important issues for first-year university students in New Zealand.
Specifically, the project is designed to:
(a) describe the first-year student experience in terms of assessment anxiety and examine this trajectory over a period of 6 months;
(b) identify classroom practices that exacerbate/reduce assessment anxiety; and,
(c) identify plausible strategies that could aid in limiting and managing assessment anxiety for individual learners and the learning environment itself (e.g., classroom practices and university policies).
- Valerie A. Sotardi, PhD; University of Canterbury
- Erik Brogt, PhD; University of Canterbury
- Ako Aotearoa $10,000 (excl. GST)
- University of Canterbury $10,000 (excl. GST)
Project commenced: September 2016
Expected project completion: August 2018
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