Is there an alternative to exams? Examination stress in engineering courses

Parsons, David (2008) Is there an alternative to exams? Examination stress in engineering courses. International Journal of Engineering Education, 24 (6). pp. 1111-1118. ISSN 0949-149X

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Examination stress is probably a factor in the poorer than expected performance of some engineering students. This paper presents some evidence of this connection from a specific third level electronics course together with descriptions of several strategies adopted to alleviate it and resulting changes in performance.

The literature on examination stress and the effectiveness of strategies to alleviate it is then reviewed in the light of the above experiences, leading to the conclusion that it is likely that examination stress is a significant factor in the academic performance of some engineering students, and possibly more so for those from Asian backgrounds. Further the literature suggests that the following actions have potential value for alleviating the poorer academic results flowing from examination stress:
1. Good teaching and well structured materials and study programs;
2. A variety of styles of assessment with opportunity to practice those styles;
3. Allowing memory support such as by allowing open-book assessments;
4. Including opportunities for students to comment on the assessment experience either during the assessment or soon afterwards;
5. Questions which are either individualized or have elements of choice about answers; and
6. Relaxing the time pressure on assessment activities.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Published version deposited with permission of Editor.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Engineering and Surveying - Department of Electrical, Electronic and Computer Engineering
Date Deposited: 23 Jun 2009 02:14
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:10
Uncontrolled Keywords: examinations; examination stress; test anxiety; assessment; engineering courses
Fields of Research : 17 Psychology and Cognitive Sciences > 1701 Psychology > 170103 Educational Psychology
13 Education > 1302 Curriculum and Pedagogy > 130212 Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
13 Education > 1303 Specialist Studies in Education > 130303 Education Assessment and Evaluation
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 93 Education and Training > 9303 Curriculum > 930301 Assessment and Evaluation of Curriculum

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