Fear appeals in the primary classroom: effects on test anxiety, state anxiety and test scores

Putwain, D. and Best, N. (2010) Fear appeals in the primary classroom: effects on test anxiety, state anxiety and test scores. British Psychological Society, Education Section Conference, 12–14 November, Milton Keynes.

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Abstract

This paper describes two pilot field experiments designed to examine the effects of classroom fear appeals on test anxiety, state anxiety and test scores in primary schoolchildren. In the first experiment, forty pupils were instructed during Mathematics classes for one week under a low fear appeals condition and for one week under a high fear appeals condition. Conditions were counterbalanced so that twenty pupils received the low fear appeals condition first and twenty pupils received the high fear appeals condition first. Pupils reported an increase in test anxiety related thoughts and autonomic reactions in the high fear appeals condition, but not in off-task behaviours, and performed worse on an end-of-week class test than in the low fear appeals condition. A mediational analysis suggested that the lower test scores observed in the high fear appeals condition were attributable to the higher test anxious thoughts and autonomic reactions. These findings suggest that fear appeals are not an effective strategy with which to prepare primary schoolchildren for tests. In the second experiment we examined whether pupils showed a differential response to fear appeals. The same procedure was used in experiment one, however we also included a test anxiety pre-measure to create high and low groups of test anxious pupils. Thirty eight pupils reported higher state worry and lower state positive affect in the high fear appeals conditions, and also performed worse on the on an end-of-week class test than in the low fear appeals condition. These effects did not differ between high and low test anxious pupils. A mediational analysis suggested that the decrease in test scores in the high fear appeals condition was not attributable to changes in state worry and positive affect. These findings suggest that the effect of fear appeals is not limited to highly test anxious pupils only.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
L Education > L Education (General)
Divisions: Psychology
Date Deposited: 02 Feb 2011 14:13
URI: http://repository.edgehill.ac.uk/id/eprint/2344

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