Friday, January 14, 2011

A technique for preventing students from choking on exams

This U. of Chicago study found that students who write about their exam anxiety ten minutes before the test improve their performance "substantially."

Researchers found that students who were prone to test anxiety improved their high–stakes test scores by nearly one grade point after they were given 10 minutes to write about what was causing them fear, according to the article, “Writing about Testing Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom.” The article appears in the Jan. 14 issue of Science and is based on research supported by the National Science Foundation.

The writing exercise allowed students to unload their anxieties before taking the test and accordingly freed up brainpower needed to complete the test successfully — brainpower that is normally occupied by worries about the test, explained the study’s senior author, Sian Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University.

In other research, Beilock has shown that pressure–filled situations can deplete a part of the brain’s processing power known as working memory, which is critical to many everyday activities. Working memory is a sort of mental scratch pad that allows people to retrieve and use information relevant to the task at hand. But it is a limited resource, and when worries creep up, the working memory people normally use to succeed becomes overburdened. That can sap the brain power necessary to excel.

You can read the rest here.

Hat tip to Inside Higher Ed.

(jbl).

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legal_skills/2011/01/a-technique-for-preventing-students-from-choking-on-exams.html

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