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Title:Investigating test anxiety and the effects of supportive messages
Author(s):Deloatch, Robert T
Director of Research:Bailey, Brian P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Kirlik, Alex C
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Lane, H. Chad; Zilles, Craig; Gergle, Darren
Department / Program:Computer Science
Discipline:Computer Science
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Test anxiety
Social support
Social media
Expressive writing
Peer support
Computer science education
Computer based testing
Abstract:Many students underperform on exams due to experiencing high test anxiety. In this dissertation, I present three studies examining how test anxiety affects students taking open-ended computer programming exams and methods to reduce it. In the first study, I conduct a survey to show the prevalence of test anxiety in computer science and the methods students use to cope with it. In the second study, I report on an experimental study comparing a novel intervention of seeking support from one’s own social network to the more common approaches of expressive writing and studying task-relevant materials for open-ended test questions. In the final study, I present an experimental study comparing how the perceived authorship of supportive messages affects the anxiety and performance of students completing open-ended programming questions. The results show that 23% of students experience high test anxiety when taking computer based programming exams and 22% of students have no method of coping with it. They also show that soliciting messages from social media can result in a 21% reduction in anxiety, an increase in testing performance, and the perceived author of these messages affects the magnitude of the decrease in anxiety. These studies have implications for students who take, instructors who write, and companies that use programming tests to evaluate new hires. I aim to demonstrate why test anxiety should be considered when designing or preparing for exams and how to integrate reduction strategies into the testing process.
Issue Date:2017-07-09
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Robert Deloatch
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-09-29
Date Deposited:2017-08

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