First year undergraduate students studying psychology online with the University of the Highlands and Islands experienced anxiety while taking the first of two online multiple choice question (MCQ) assessments. The literature reveals that test anxiety, computer anxiety and technostress have been recognised as issues for some time. As a distributed University that relies heavily on online technology, these issues are potentially significant for UHI and other higher education institutions utilising online learning platforms. Feedback from students after the first MCQ assessment revealed that test anxiety, computer anxiety and technostress were all experienced in some form during the deployment of the assessment. Consequentially, steps were taken to mitigate against these reported issues. Detailed technical advice and guidance was issued ahead of the second online MCQ assessment. End of module feedback from students indicated that anxiety-related issues were reduced by the advice issued to them. For subsequent cohorts of students, formative assessments and detailed technical advice and guidance were issued. MCQ tests were reduced from two to one. An examination of assessment pass rates and feedback for this second cohort of students indicated that the use of a formative assessment and detailed technical advice and guidance deployed prior to the summative assessment were effective at ameliorating against online test anxiety. There are a number of factors that might interact in a complex way to affect student performance in an online MCQ test setting. It is important that wherever possible, we deploy assessments that are a valid test of students’ knowledge and understanding of subject material rather than their ability to deal with situations that engender anxiety and stress.
|Journal of Perspectives in Applied Academic Practice
|Published - 26 May 2015