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Participants were allowed to use a calculator and were given a time limit of eighteen minutes to complete the exam. After the exam stimuli, participants completed a short questionnaire consisting of seven questions about basic demographics and confound checks.
To see if participants major was a confounding variable, an one way ANOVA with a LSD test, was performed to see if participants major had an effect on exam performance.
A 2 X 3 factorial ANOVA was performed for the analysis of the main affect of test anxiety and the main affect of question difficulty sequence, as well as the interaction between test anxiety and question difficulty sequence on exam performance. A LSD test was performed for the three-level independent variable, question difficulty sequence, to see if cell means varied for question sequences of easy to hard, random, and hard to easy. Three contrast t-tests were performed to test the interaction between each question sequence (easy to hard, random, hard to easy) and high-test anxiety vs. low-test anxiety. The hypothesis predicted that participants with low-test anxiety would perform better than participants with high-test anxiety on exams with random question sequence, and hard to easy sequence, but on exams with question sequence of easy to hard, there would not be a different in performance between the two-levels of anxiety.
For the confound check, participants major did have a an effect on test performance, F (4,41) = 4.75, p=.003. Participants performed differently depending on their major, Engineers (M = 8.31, SD = 1.55), education (M = 3.50, SD = 2.12), Business (M = 5.50, SD = 2.74), communication (M = 3.67, SD = .58), and other (M = 6.89, SD = 2.49).
Against hypothesis "A," there was no effect of test anxiety on test performance, F (1,36) = 3.14, p = .09. Participants performed approximately the same on exams regardless of low-test anxiety (M = 6.14, SD = 2.94) or high-test anxiety (M = 7.33, SD = 2.01).
As expected, and supporting hypotheses "B," there was a main effect of question difficulty sequence, F (2,36) = 8.22, p = .001. Participants performed definitely on exams with question sequences easy to hard (M = 8.21, SD = 2.05), question sequences random (M = 7.07, SD = 2.62), and question sequences hard to easy (M = 4.93, SD = 1.9). Three pairwise comparisons were made showing that there was no meaning difference between cell means of performance for question sequence of easy to hard (M = 8.21) versus random question sequence (M = 7.07), p = .17. There was a meaningful increase between cell means of performance for question sequence of easy to hard (M = 8.21) versus cell means of performance for question sequence of hard to easy (M = 4.93), p = p < .001. There was a meaningful increase between cell means of performance for random question sequence (M = 7.07) versus cell means of performance for question sequence of hard to easy (M = 4.93), p = .01.
Against expectations and against hypotheses "C," there was no interaction between test anxiety and question difficulty sequence on test performance, F (2,38) = .50, p = .61. Three contrast t-tests were conducted to determine whether or not an interaction varied between cells. There was an no effect of easy to hard question sequence and low-test anxiety vs. high-test anxiety, t (36) = -.61, p = .54. Participants who received the exam with question ordered from easy to hard difficulty did not perform different with low-test anxiety (M = 7.86, SD = 2.41) than participants with high-test anxiety (M = 8.57, SD = 1.72).
There was an no effect of random sequence and low-test anxiety vs. high-test anxiety, t (36) = -.61, p = .54. Participants who received the exam with random question did not perform different with low-test anxiety (M = 6.71, SD = 3.45) than participants with high-test anxiety (M = 7.43, SD = 1.62). There was an no effect of hard to easy question sequence and low-test anxiety vs. high-test anxiety, t (36) = -1.84, p = .07. Participants who received the exam with question ordered from hard to easy did not perform different with low-test anxiety (M = 3.86, SD = 1.07) than participants with high-test anxiety (M = 6.00, SD = 2.00).
The purpose of this study was to test the theory that test anxiety can be alleviated enough to create a true representation of a student's grasp of the material they have learned through a variation in the structure of the examination. The original hypothesis was that students would perform better if the questions were sequenced from easy to difficult, in that order. The lower level of test-related anxiety would allow students to perform better on examinations, under this theory.
The experiment yielded results that were quite different from those expected. As a result of this experiment, it was determined that students who experience significant levels of test anxiety may not find any relief from this anxiety with an alternate test structure. Although experts have suggested that an easy-to-difficult structure of test questions may help to boost motivation and alleviate some of the anxiety associated with intimidating examinations, there is no evidence from this experiment that supports that hypothesis.
This study also found that students did not perform differently with regard to major. Students…[continue]
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