So in this blog I’m attempting to pull together the last four of my blogs, I’ll reiterate some of the research I’ve already included (the ones I’ve found most interesting) and include any new research I’ve found on the areas I’ve been blogging about.
My overall topic was about how the way we are assessed in education can affect us on a psychological and personal level, this being, the amount of stress assessments can put us under. I then expanded this into methods of assessment that may reduce our stress levels, as well as including personal revelations about which methods of assessment I don’t agree with.
Assessment is described as ‘the collection of relevant information that may be relied on for making decisions’ (Fenton, 1966). Davis (2000) defines the idea of assessment as ‘learning that is ongoing and requires deep involvement on the part of the learner in clarifying outcomes, monitoring on-going learning, collecting evidence and presenting evidence of our learning to others’. Certain types of assessment can lead to a concept called ‘social loafing’, which is when certain members of the group do not contribute to the task fully as they believe other people will do the work for them, but they will still be rewarded equally. Linden et al (2004) found that large group sizes lead to an increase in social loafing. Karau (1993) found that social loafing can also be influenced by culture and task meaningfulness.
Anxiety and stress affect all students during their education experience, however, some people suffer from the effects of stress differently from others. Boivin et al (2009) found that certain assessments lead to social withdrawal in the classroom which can lead to peer rejection and depression as well as affecting the desire to achieve in classroom tasks.
Testing is another form of assessment known to bring on severe amounts of stress and anxiety in young adults. Sarason et al (1960) believed that ‘we live in a test conscious, test-giving culture in which the lives of people are in part determined by their test performance’. The point made is one that is true of the Western education system, failing a test can have a huge impact on the future development and education of the individual, which means the pressure to succeed is immense. Cohen et al (2000) research medical students during and after exam time, measuring DRC (DNA repair capacity). Results showed that DRC was significantly lower during exam time than once the exam period had ended. The immune system becomes weaker during times of stress and anxiety. So for individuals who are prone to suffering from stress, anxiety and depression anyway, exam times become a particularly difficult time.
Performance based assessments are a solution to reducing the stress levels suffered by students. It falls into the category of alternative assessment (Sweet, 1993). It requires students to actively demonstrate what they know not simply recite it onto an exam paper. It can take the form of speeches, projects, blogs, portfolios and essays (Tung, 2010). The advantages of this form of assessment is that is allowed individuals to take responsibility for their own work and persist at topics they find most interesting and therefore increase willingness to learn. As students have more than one chance to get it right, the pressure that exams pile on vanishes. Students can plan, take their time and strive to work to the best of their ability, something that exams do not allow.
Motivation is something that can influence our marks and how well we progress in education, if we are interested in something, then we are motivated to learn it, which in turn increases grades. The Attribution Theory in education is all about how we feel about our work and the responsibility we feel towards the grades we receive.
Ability: is internal and stable, the learner has no direct control
Task Difficulty: is external and stable; it is largely beyond the learner’s control
Effort: is internal and unstable, the learner has great control of it
Luck: is external and unstable with very little control.
Students will succeed more if they believe that it is their own behaviour rather than external circumstances that lead to success or failure. The most successful students have a tendency to overestimate the degree to which their own behaviour leads to success or failure (Lefcourt, 1976).
So after summing up the last four blogs I’ve posted, I hope you can see the research that’s been included supports my notion that stress needs to be reduced in education and that there are methods available to aid this process. Stress is something that everybody will experience at some point in their lives, but If there is a solution to the amount that a person experiences, then why not reduce it. The education system in Britain (and international schooling) is in need of a radical change, students no longer learn through sitting row-by-row listening to the drone of a teacher’s voice. Learning needs to become fun and exciting and make students active achievers in their own learning processes.