Interaction between examination type, anxiety state, and academic achievement in college science; an action-oriented research

Authors

  • Uri Zoller,

    1. Department of Science Education, Haifa University—ORANIM, The School of Education of The Kibbutz Movement, P.O. Kiryat Tivon 36910, Israel
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  • David Ben-Chaim

    1. Department of Science Education, Haifa University—ORANIM, The School of Education of The Kibbutz Movement, P.O. Kiryat Tivon 36910, Israel
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Abstract

The trait anxiety profile of future science teachers, as well as their preferences concerning types of examinations in science and mathematics, have been surveyed prior to the administration—within the various science courses—of several traditional and nontraditional types of examinations and the assessment of students' state anxieties as well as their respective performance, i.e., their academic achievements. Our major findings are that

  • (a)Our students prefer by far examinations in which the emphasis is on understanding and analyzing rather than on knowing and “remembering,” that the use of any relevant material during the examinations be permitted, and that the time duration be practically unlimited (e.g., “take-home”–type examinations).
  • (b)Students' state anxiety correlates with the type of the examination, with a tendency towards somewhat higher anxiety for females. The preferred types of examinations reduce test anxiety significantly, and result in higher grades accordingly.
  • (c)The reduction of anxiety and the improvement in achievements as a function of the examination type are far more significant for low achievers compared with medium and high achievers.
  • (d)Although teachers are aware of the student preferences, they persist in giving their students their own “pet”-type examinations.

These results are discussed in terms of the implications for upgrading both science education and college student testing and assessment mechanisms.

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