How can I address my learners’ test anxiety?
Test anxiety is the stress that learners feel when they have to take a test or do something that feels like an assessment.
It’s true that some test anxiety can motivate some learners to achieve. However, for most people feeling anxious about a test or assessment causes high levels of stress, low self-esteem, and contributes to poor scores and negative views about learning and self.
You’re going to need to assess your learners as part of this course. You almost certainly have to assess them anyway as part of your job.
And when you do this you’re going to need to manage any anxiety that your learners feel about completing the assessments. This includes working with diagnostic assessments where you’re really at the beginning stages of trying to find out what people know and can do.
Here are some ideas on how to address test anxiety:
- Whakawhanaungatanga: If you think back to Collection 2, you’ll remember the idea of whanaungatanga. This has to do with creating good relationships with your learners. A good relationship means that there are mutual respect and trust between yourself and your learners. Make sure that this is in place before you assess. Pro tip: one sure way to help this process along is to involve food.
- It’s not you, it’s me. Explain the purpose of the assessment. Tell them that you’re trying to find out information that’s going to help you teach them better. This is the truth. It’s not about failing people or causing embarrassment. Whether it’s diagnostic or formative, assessment results can help you focus your teaching more on what your learners actual needs are.
- Use sports. Many of your learners will play sports of some kind. Those that don’t will still understand the analogy. You are the coach. Your learners are the team. As the coach, it’s your job to figure out the game plan for the season. To do this, you need to work out the strengths and weaknesses of the team. You want to build on strengths, but you also need to address players’ weaknesses that could hold the team back. As the coach, you have a bunch of fitness tests to work out what you need to work on next.
- Don’t make it feel like a test. You can’t change the way the TEC Assessment Tool works. But you can experiment with how you assess your learners’ literacy and numeracy ability in your class. Experiment with assessments that don’t feel like traditional tests. Consider using portfolio assessment, learner self-assessment, projects, games or tasks.
Consider your learners: How do you currently deal with test anxiety? What’s appropriate for your teaching situation?