I’m sure I’m not alone in the experience of having a number of regular-ed students every year who suffer from test anxiety. These are kids without directed accommodations (Individualized Education or 504 Plans) but who nevertheless suffer from a specific testing apprehension or difficulty. Sometimes the students and/or their parents make me aware of their test-taking trepidation, or it becomes obvious when a student who usually performs well in other classroom areas shows consistent stuggles or failures during assessments.
So, I was very interested when I read about a recent study that found students’ test scores improved when they were allowed to write about their anxiety beforehand. The senior researcher is Sian Beilock, the author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About Getting It Right When You Have To, and she argues that the pre-writing exercise can “free up” the brainpower that would normally be focused on the test concerns.
Have you ever tried such an activity to curb test anxiety? Was it successful? Do you have any other practices that help students get past their performance fears? I would love to hear some new ideas.