A new study from the University of Kansas, published in the International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, sheds light on this biopsychosocial method, which can result in low grades, exclusion from classes, and even student dropout. Indeed, in the United States, about 40% of freshmen do not return to their colleges for a second year.
Test Anxiety, Caffeine, And Poor Sleep
“We were interested in figuring out what predicted students’ success in statistics classes — statistics classes are normally the most hated undergrad class,” said lead author Nancy Hamilton, a psychology professor at KU. “There may be a specific issue that is a source of contention for many students.” I’m fascinated by sleep, and sleep and anxiety are related.
But we decided to investigate the relationship between sleep, anxiety, and test results in order to determine the association and how it evolves over time.”
Hamilton and graduate student co-authors Ronald Freche and Ian Carroll, as well as undergraduates Yichi Zhang and Gabriella Zeller, surveyed 167 students enrolled in a statistics class at KU about their sleep efficiency, anxiety levels, and test scores.
In the days leading up to a statistics test, participants completed an automated battery of interventions and filled out Sleep Mood Study Diaries in the mornings. Exam results were verified by instructors. According to the report, “sleep and anxiety feed one another” and will predictably damage academic success.
“We looked at test anxiety to see if it predicted who advanced, and it did,” said one researcher.
Hamilton stated his case. “It was an indicator even after correcting for students’ prior results, and it raised the risk of students failing the class.” By comparing students with high levels of anxiety to students with low levels of anxiety, there was almost a five-point gap in their scores. This is not a minor issue.
It’s the distinction between a C-minus and a D. That is the distinction between a B-plus and an A-minus. It’s true.”
A student’s overall health can suffer in addition to dropping grades if test anxiety and lack of sleep exacerbate each other.”Studies have found that students appear to deal with fear by engaging in health-related activities,” Hamilton said. Excessive caffeine intake by students can counteract sleep problems associated with anxiety, and caffeine may aggravate sleep problems, especially if consumed in the afternoon or evening.”
Students may use alcohol or other sedative drugs to self-medicate for anxiety. Those are the things we know are related.”
Universities, according to Hamilton, should do better to inform students about the occurrence of test anxiety and provide them with tools.”What cornerstone of improvement for a university would be is to learn about test anxiety and how to minimize it,” she said. “A university should even speak to professors about what they can do to help minimize the impact of exam anxiety.”
According to Hamilton, the syndrome often affects teachers: anxiety and related sleep disorders distort instructors’ ability to assess student awareness in a given subject.
“When I write a test as a tutor, my aim is to determine how well a student knows,”
“Having a psychological or emotional issue, on the other hand, gets in the way of that. It actually hinders my ability to evaluate learning efficiently. It’s all noise. It has nothing to do with what they understand or learn. So, I believe it is in everyone’s best interest to see if we can find ways to help students reduce the impact of anxiety on their success.”
In classes that use performance-based interventions, such as math or numbers, which may cause a lot of anxiety in certain students, urging those students to take five minutes right before an exam to write about what they’re worried about can help physically– it’s inexpensive, it’s fast, and it’s quick “Hamilton stated his case. Eliminating the time limit altogether might prove helpful in the long run. The
Hamilton said that in the future, she would like to see research into the correlation between test anxiety and poor sleep expanded to include a more diverse community of students and its impact on remote learning.