Robert Deloatch, a graduate student at the university told PTI that the study claimed that up to 41 per cent students suffer from test anxiety which is a combination of physiological and emotional responses which appear while taking or preparing for a test.
Test anxiety often causes lower test scores and grade point averages. It also causes poor performance on memory and problem-solving tasks.
The study found that test anxiety is particularly acute when students have to take open-ended problems in an exam. Open-ended problems are mostly part of computer science exams where a student is required to write and run codes.
In case of reduced test anxiety, students are able to perform better. The researchers also found that students with high test anxiety dread negative evaluation, have lower self-esteem and also experience increased number of irrelevant and distracting thoughts in testing situations.
For the study, students were made to solve two programming problems by writing and running codes. Most of the participants in the study were computer science majors or computer engineering students who had to undergo a test first to determine if they had basic programming knowledge.
The researchers measured their test anxiety levels through the Cognitive Test Anxiety scale. The scale assesses the cognitive problems which are associated with test-taking such as irrelevant thinking and attention lapses. The participants also had to complete two questionnaires which measured their levels of anxiety.
A day before the experiment, the students in social support group posted requests for encouragement in forms of Facebook likes, comments or private messages about a computer programming challenge they were due to participate the next day. The researchers found that only those students who received supportive messages from their Facebook friends showed any decrease in anxiety levels and improvement in their performance.
(With Inputs from PTI)