You Have 10 Minutes Remaining: An Examination Into Common Test-Taking Anxieties’ Effect on Academic Performance in Relation to Academic Intrinsic Motivation and Achievement Goal Orientation

Megan Gronau

Student Name: Megan Gronau
Major: Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience
Advisors: Dr. Ashley Abraham, Dr. Susan Clayton
Between 25% -40% of students experience test-taking anxiety to some extent, whether it is low anxiety or high anxiety pertaining to testing situations in academic settings(Onyekuru & Ibegbunam, 2014). Test-taking anxiety can have both positive and negative effects on academic performance. Low test-taking anxiety is necessary among students in order to maintain focus and encourage effort to reach maximum achievement on assessments. High test-taking anxiety leads to decreased attention to assessment material, and a heightened focus on the internal narrative of eminent failure. Along with test-taking anxiety, motivation and achievement goal orientation play an imperative role in academic achievement. My Independent Study sets out to examine how common test-taking anxieties and the administration of a competence threat affects academic performance on a fraction assessment. To test this, participants were asked to complete a set of fractions and to evaluate their own motivations and achievement goals within academic settings. From these responses, significant effects of the level of test-taking anxiety and the application of a competence threat on academic performance were exhibited. Motivation and achievement goal orientation did not have an effect on academic performance. Ultimately, this study concludes differing levels of test-taking anxiety and the application of a competence threat does influence overall academic performance. From this research, professors, teachers, instructors, etc. Need to be cognizant about wording when describing assessments, assignments, and expectations to students. Using statements like, “Most students don’t do well on this exam” or “This class is difficult and is going to take up majority of your time,” can be harmful and a self-fulfilling prophecy will be implemented by the student. Constant support and encouraging words from instructors within academic settings can help to alleviate anxieties that may be paired with testing situations.

Megan will be online to field comments on April 16: Noon-2 pm EDT (PST 9am-11am, Africa/Europe: early evening)

Posted in I.S. Symposium 2021, Independent Study on April 2, 2021.