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Second-Chance Testing as a Means of Reducing Students' Test Anxiety and Improving Outcomes

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Conference

2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition

Location

Baltimore , Maryland

Publication Date

June 25, 2023

Start Date

June 25, 2023

End Date

June 28, 2023

Conference Session

Student Assessments and Tests

Tagged Division

Educational Research and Methods Division (ERM)

Page Count

12

DOI

10.18260/1-2--44207

Permanent URL

https://peer.asee.org/44207

Download Count

199

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Paper Authors

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Chinedu Alexander Emeka

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Chinedu Emeka is a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research interests include Computer Science Education and improving assessments for CS and other STEM students. Mr. Emeka also has a passion for teaching CS, and he has received two awards for his teaching.

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Craig Zilles University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0003-4601-4398

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Craig Zilles is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research focuses on computer science education and computer architecture. His research has been recognized by two best paper

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Matthew West University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-7605-0050

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Matthew West is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Geoffrey L. Herman University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Orcid 16x16 orcid.org/0000-0002-9501-2295

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Dr. Geoffrey L. Herman is the Severns Teaching Associate Professor with the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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Timothy Bretl University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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Timothy Bretl is a Severns Faculty Scholar at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he is both Professor and Associate Head for Undergraduate Programs in the Department of Aerospace Engineering. He holds an affiliate appointment in the Coordinated Science Laboratory, where he leads a research group that works on a diverse set of projects in robotics and education (http://bretl.csl.illinois.edu/). He has received every award for undergraduate teaching that is granted by his department, college, and campus.

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Abstract

This research paper explores how second-chance testing can be used as a strategy for mitigating students' test anxiety in STEM courses, thereby boosting students' performance and experiences. Second-chance testing is a testing strategy where students are given an opportunity to take an assessment twice. In our work, we investigate how second-chance testing influences students’ anxiety.

Test anxiety is a pervasive and multidimensional problem that often leads to diminished performance. In particular, students' negative cognitive reactions in situations where they are being tested can lead to pronounced drops in achievement. These negative cognitive reactions are often described as cognitive worry in the literature.

We conducted a mixed-methods study to explore second-chance testing as a potential solution to test anxiety. First, we interviewed a diverse group of STEM students (N = 23) who had taken courses with SCT to ask about the stress and anxiety associated with testing. We then administered a survey on test anxiety to STEM students in 7 courses that offered second-chance tests at Midwestern University (N=448).

We found that second-chance testing led to a 30% reduction in students’ test anxiety, a substantial decrease. Students also reported reduced stress throughout the semester, even outside of testing windows, due to the availability of second-chance testing. Our study included courses where second-chance testing was deployed for both formative and summative assessments, which indicates that it is a viable strategy for reducing anxiety in a variety of contexts.

We also explored whether the resultant reduction in test anxiety led to student complacency, encouraged procrastination or other suboptimal student behavior because of the extra chance provided. We found that the majority of students still worked hard on their initial test attempts even when second-chance testing was available. We conclude our paper with recommendations for practice.

Emeka, C. A., & Zilles, C., & West, M., & Herman, G. L., & Bretl, T. (2023, June), Second-Chance Testing as a Means of Reducing Students' Test Anxiety and Improving Outcomes Paper presented at 2023 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Baltimore , Maryland. 10.18260/1-2--44207

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