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Description: As we enter October, students in their fall terms are about to notice that midterms are cresting the immediate horizon and bringing with them general and test-specific anxieties. There is still a little bit of time to prepare for the tests and for any associated anxiety. I am hoping that saying that booking off some study/preparation time is a good idea goes without saying. If you search online for tips, tricks, and hacks for dealing with test-anxiety you will find a HUGE array of suggestions (eat healthy, listen to music, exercise, etc. etc.) most offered without any research evidence as to whether or not they provide assistance. The three articles linked below each look at a different hack or fix for exam related anxiety (coloring, aroma therapy, and therapy dogs). Think about how you might set up a research study to look at whether any of these three interventions help students manage or reduce their test-related anxiety and then pick one, or two or all three of the linked articles and see how the researchers in each took on these tasks.

Source: Three articles examining ‘stress fixes’ as midterm season approaches (see full references in Reference list below and linked in Article Links).

Date: September 28, 2019

Photo Credit: AP/voanews.com

Article Links:  https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1451&context=ojot

https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kate_Johnson10/publication/331051081_Effect_of_Inhaled_Lemon_Essential_Oil_on_Cognitive_Test_Anxiety_Among_Nursing_Students/links/5ca4cdbb92851c8e64b0da8d/Effect-of-Inhaled-Lemon-Essential-Oil-on-Cognitive-Test-Anxiety-Among-Nursing-Students.pdf

https://kb.osu.edu/bitstream/handle/1811/87838/1/BHAC_Kim_2019.pdf

So, what did you learn from looking at one or more of the articles linked above? That essential lemon oil does not seem to reduce test-anxiety (or that the way it was assessed in the linked study did not fully address the question)? That coloring reduces anxiety levels after a stressful test (and is that the most important question to address as opposed to anticipatory test-anxiety)? That hanging out with a dog could help reduce exam anxiety (or maybe just that hanging out with Beauregard Tirebiter seems to be a positive experience for the few students who were spoken to in the qualitative study)? It seems clear that the challenge in research on addressing test-anxiety is that very specific solutions are often hard to assess and may, in and of themselves, not be sufficient to provide more than passing relief from symptoms of test-anxiety (though some pole fond one or another of these specific interventions quite helpful, though it is hard to tell what will work for whom. A bigger-picture research perspective is needed.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. Pick one anxiety reduction intervention and describe the data supporting its effectiveness as described in one of the articles linked above?
  2. If you could pick one of these interventions to try for yourself during the coming exam season which would it be and why?
  3. What sort of work is needed if we want to provide more generally or wholly useful advice for coping with test anxiety?

References (Read Further):

Burton, B. N., & Baxter, M. F. (2019). The Effects of the Leisure Activity of Coloring on Post-Test Anxiety in Graduate Level Occupational Therapy Students. The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 7(1), 7. https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1451&context=ojot

Johnson, C. E. (2019). Effect of Inhaled Lemon Essential Oil on Cognitive Test Anxiety Among Nursing Students. Holistic nursing practice, 33(2), 95-100. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Kate_Johnson10/publication/331051081_Effect_of_Inhaled_Lemon_Essential_Oil_on_Cognitive_Test_Anxiety_Among_Nursing_Students/links/5ca4cdbb92851c8e64b0da8d/Effect-of-Inhaled-Lemon-Essential-Oil-on-Cognitive-Test-Anxiety-Among-Nursing-Students.pdf

Kim, A., & Vanni, A. (2019). Impact of a Full Time Facility Dog on a University Campus. https://kb.osu.edu/bitstream/handle/1811/87838/1/BHAC_Kim_2019.pdf

Silas, H. J., Binfet, J. T., & Ford, A. T. (2019). Therapeutic for all? Observational assessments of therapy canine stress in an on-campus stress-reduction program. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 32, 6-13. http://bark.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2019/06/Silas-Binfet-Ford-2019.pdf

Holt, N. J., Furbert, L., & Sweetingham, E. (2019). Cognitive and affective benefits of coloring: Two randomized controlled crossover studies. Art Therapy, 1-9. https://psyarxiv.com/r6w8v/download?format=pdf

Ahmad, R., Naqvi, A. A., Al-Bukhaytan, H. M., Al-Nasser, A. H., & Al-Ebrahim, A. H. B. (2019). Evaluation of aromatherapy with lavender oil on academic stress: A randomized placebo controlled clinical trial. Contemporary clinical trials communications, 14, 100346. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2451865418301169

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