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  4. Can we reduce anxiety of students sitting remote exams? Sharing best practice between SPS and LHCS

Can we reduce anxiety of students sitting remote exams? Sharing best practice between SPS and LHCS

  • Project leader(s): Gemma WarrinerFiona MoormanBecca Whitehead
  • Theme: Supporting students
  • Faculty: STEM
  • Status: Archived
  • Dates: April 2022 to April 2024

Our project was a cross school collaboration between the School of Physical Sciences (SPS) and the Life, Health and Chemical Sciences (LHCS) in response to reports of student anxiety and performance concerns. Enhanced proactive support was provided to SPS and LHCS students to de-mystify the remote exams processes, to facilitate them to take ownership of problem solving, and to attempt to increase their self-efficacy concerning their upcoming remote exam.

A series of two one-to-many exam preparation sessions were offered to all SPS and LHCS students. After the 21J exam period (June 2022), a survey was disseminated to 2500 students across both schools, 349 of whom completed the survey. Following a preliminary analysis of survey findings, e-mail interviews and focus group analysis was conducted the following Spring to facilitate in-depth exploration of some of the issues raised in the survey and to evaluate student perspectives about their exam experience after they had obtained their exam results.

Survey data shows that our exam preparation sessions reduced anxiety. It was apparent some students experienced technical issues and time pressures which had a disproportionately negative effect on their overall their exam experience. In the interviews there was variation in feedback on the specific issues around the remote setting of their most recent exam, but there was a strong preference for the continuation of online exams. The focus group drew out the diversity variance of how time is spent during the exam itself.

We believe that the feedback that we have offered about the student experience has helped to improve remote exams and therefore we hope has also reduced anxiety. Our initial findings were disseminated within our schools, the wider STEM community and to Assessment, Credit, Qualifications (ACQ) colleagues. Findings from this eSTEeM project were used to inform FAQ guidance for SPS students. Disaggregated survey findings were also provided to individual module chairs in both schools to support 22J exam preparation. The project leads attended the exam assessment workshop and contributed to preparation of ACQ student-facing remote exams guidance. We continue to run the remote exam prep sessions with updated guidance based upon issues identified in our survey.