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Anxiety Session for Instructors

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SIAST ILDC Kelsey session regarding anxiety in the Classroom and how to reduce test anxiety.

SIAST ILDC Kelsey session regarding anxiety in the Classroom and how to reduce test anxiety.

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  • 1. Anxiety in the Classroom Focusing on Test Anxiety Presented by Donna Foulds, Instructor, Learning Services Sasha Forsyth, Counsellor, Student Counselling Services
  • 2. Outline
    • Definition, symptoms, & types of test anxiety
    • Impacts of test anxiety
    • Questions to ask students
    • Discussion on your concerns & strategies
    • Questions to ask yourself as an instructor
  • 3. What is Test Anxiety?
    • Test anxiety causes feelings of tension and apprehension, worrisome thoughts and the activation of the fight or flight response when facing testing situations
    • Some anxiety during testing is normal and even helpful
    • Test anxiety is severe anxiety that causes test performance to suffer
    • Students can learn to manage their test anxiety with the help and understanding of instructors, program heads, learning services, and counselling
    • Spielberger’s , 1972; Ellis, 2007
  • 4. Symptoms of Anxiety
    • Physical
    • Fatigue, nausea, fainting, headaches, muscle tension, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea
    • Behavioral
    • Sleep difficulties, missing class, procrastination, increase use of alcohol or caffeine, difficulty dealing with everyday decisions, avoiding homework and trouble activating, cheating
    • Emotional
    • Stressed, irritable, frustrated, overwhelmed, worried, panicked, anxious
    • Mental
    • Inability to concentrate, negative thinking, confusion, self-doubt, going blank, slower processing speed
  • 5. Anxiety/Relaxation Experience
    • Think about a time when you were anxious.
    • Remember what it feels like to be anxious? Now imagine feeling anxious and trying to learn or to write an exam. The process becomes more difficult!
    • Now lets take a moment to relax!
    • To counteract the flight or flight response, it is helpful for students to engage in a relaxation activity. Consider including relaxation activities in your teaching.
  • 6. Some Types of Anxious Students
    • Deficient in Skills: These students don’t have the skills to study &/or perform well.
    • Ex: The student may rush through the test
    • Anxiety Blockage: Efficient study skills, but problems retrieving information during an exam.
    • Ex: Exam marks not reflecting what the student knows; may experience panic during an exam
    • Perfectionist: They can’t stand making a mistake and they drive themselves to exhaustion trying to understand every concept. Nothing is every good enough.
    • Ex: Extreme pressure can lead to a break down
    • Adapted from Zeidner, 1998
    What types of anxiety have you noticed in your students?
  • 7. Impact of Anxiety on Students
    • Test anxiety negatively affects:
    • Test results
      • Losing time on tests due to coping with anxiety
      • Finishing tests early to get out of anxious situation
      • Not handing test in last because of worry that people will think they are dumb
      • Cheating
    • Completion of post-secondary
    • Occupation selection
    • Self-esteem
    • Ergene, 2003; Nolting, 1997
    15-20 percent of college students experience test anxiety (Ergene, 2003)
  • 8. Impact of Student Anxiety on Instructors
    • Anxiety can spread throughout class
      • Test day, flow of class, instructor’s ability to deliver content
    • Having to address the students feelings and behaviors caused by anxiety (e.g., anger, withdrawal, crying)
    • Students or program head blaming the instructor because students are not performing well
    • Instructors may question teaching ability & experience reduced confidence in the classroom
    • Instructors may feel helpless because of limitations of:
      • Time, location, supports
    • What other impacts do you feel?
  • 9. Some Causes of Test Anxiety
    • Learned behaviour
    • Association between grades and personal worth
    • Fear of alienating significant people in the student’s life because of poor grades
    • A lack of control of one’s life situation
    • Timed tests and the fear of not finishing even if one can do all of the questions
    • Being put in courses above the student’s ability
    • Other students finishing the test
    • Nolting, 1997
  • 10. Ask Students about
    • Study strategies and time management
      • How much time do you spend studying?
      • How do you study or what are your study strategies?
      • Where do you study?
      • How is your time organized?
    • Teach study, test taking, and study management skills in class
    • Invite Learning Services to your class to offer Student Success Seminars
    • Refer student to Learning Services to learn skills on:
    • Effective studying strategies:
      • Cue cards, study groups, interactive with text, how memory works, note taking tips, reading, technological supports
    • Time management
      • Scheduling, how to use a day planner
  • 11. Ask Students about
    • 2. Test taking skills
      • What is your previous school history around taking tests?
      • What happens to you when writing a test? (e.g., Do you go blank? Do you know the information, but have trouble getting it out or organizing it?)
    • Instructor can consider other test support options
      • Cheat sheet, calculator, formula sheet, blank paper (e.g., brain dump)
    • Instructor can be open to other assessment strategies
      • Oral tests, collaborative tests, choices within evaluation medium
    • Refer student to Learning Services to learn skills on:
      • Effective test writing (e.g., How to write a variety of test types, using testing time effectively)
    • Refer to counselling if the student is going blank or is overly anxious during test
  • 12. Ask Students
    • What problems are they having in the class? What do they need to be successful in this class?
    • Instructors/program heads can make accommodations:
      • Extra time on exams
      • Allow students to write in a separate room
      • Alternate ways of assessing
    • Ask students early in the class/program about their concerns and what they need to be successful
    • Refer students to support services that best meet the students’ needs.
  • 13. Ask Students about
    • 4. School history
      • Do you struggle with a particular subject?
      • Have you received help with a specific class?
      • Did you go to resource room?
      • Did you receive any accommodations (e.g., exam in separate place)?
      • Have you had a previous assessment of your learning?
    Find out school history information early on to make sure students get supports that they need Refer to Learning Services to receive support in math, reading, & writing skills Refer to Disability Counsellors, located in Counselling Services
  • 14. Ask Students
    • 5. If they feel stressed or overwhelmed
      • What are your fears and goals for the program/class?
      • What are your expectations – From yourself? From others?
    • Instructors can help by:
      • Reassuring the student
      • Providing the student with suggestions on how to manage their program/class
      • Referring student to Counselling Services
  • 15. Ask Students about
    • 6. Their general health
      • Sleeping quality and amount
      • Eating habits
      • Health problems (physical and mental)
    • Refer to:
    • Counselling Services
    • Student health nurses - Jacquie and Tori
    • Doctor
      • Other health practitioner
  • 16. Group Discussion
    • What brought you to this presentation?
    • What are your questions and concerns regarding anxiety in the classroom?
    • We will give you a few minutes to put your points on the hand out provided and then we will share and discuss as a group.
  • 17. Small Group Reflection & Discussion
    • Managing anxiety in the classroom
    • How do I notice when students are anxious?
    • What do I currently do to help students manage their anxiety?
    • How do I feel about dealing with anxiety in the classroom?
    • See questions and answer space on hand out
  • 18.
    • Reflecting on teaching/classroom skills to minimize student anxiety
    • How do I evaluate my assessments and teaching?
    • How do I create open communication with students?
    • What organization/time-management strategies help me present content clearly and at a reasonable pace?
    • See questions and answer space on hand out
    Small Group Reflection & Discussion
  • 19. Final Points As an instructor, you can have a huge impact on helping your students to succeed, whether it is modifying your assessment format and classroom approach or referring them to appropriate supports. Your Feedback: What is one point you will take away from today’s presentation? What would you like to learn more about?
  • 20. Thank you for taking your time to share & reflect with us today. Please feel free to contact us if you have any ideas or questions about anxiety or other areas students may be struggling with. Sasha Forsyth 659-4730 Donna Foulds 659-4203
  • 21.  
  • 22. Reducing Anxiety in the Classroom
    • Relaxation exercise as a group
    • Others from discussion
  • 23. Myths of Test Anxiety
    • Students are born with test anxiety
    • Test anxiety is a mental illness
    • Test anxiety cannot be reduced
    • Any level of test anxiety is bad
    • All students who are not prepared have test anxiety
    • Students with test anxiety cannot learn math
    • Nolting, 1997
  • 24. Myths of Test Anxiety
    • Very intelligent students and students taking high level courses do not have test anxiety
    • Attending class and doing homework should reduce all test anxiety
    • Being told to relax during a test will make you relaxed
    • Doing nothing about test anxiety will make it go away
    • Reducing test anxiety will guarantee better grades
    • Nolting, 1997
  • 25. Math Anxiety
    • Exists among many students who don’t usually experience other tensions
    • Is common among college students and more prevalent in women
    • Can be caused by being embarrassed by the teacher or other students when trying to do math problems
    • Acts as a wall preventing students from learning new math concepts