exam2Professor Dave Putwain led research which found that pupils who worry about their exam performance are more likely to do badly than those who are less anxious.

Dave has studied ways of reducing test anxiety through raising awareness with educators, the public, and through targeted intervention. He believes that schools need to try to gain a ‘student’s eye view’ of exams, through being more aware of the detrimental effects of test anxiety and the ways in which they can be reduced.

As part of his research he has also examined how exam stress can be reduced through students following an on-screen, self-help programme called STEPS (Strategies to Tackle Exam Pressure and Stress). This programme included videos of students discussing how they cope with exam stress, interactive games, quizzes and opportunities for students to practice anxiety management techniques. On average, pupils who were anxious about their exams reported that this was reduced after participating in STEPS.

Dave’s research could have a long-term impact on how teachers and parents approach pupil’s exam anxiety and consequently lead to a reduction in pupil’s stress levels, overall improving their exam performance. The research by Edge Hill University has attracted considerable media coverage, featuring on both ITN and Sky news.

Professor aims to make debilitating exam stress a thing of the past

An education expert from Edge Hill University is training teachers to help students tackle issues around exam stress.

Professor Dave Putwain, who researches exam stress in the Faculty of Education is helping teachers help students to tackle the problem.

Professor Putwain said: “Most students suffer from increased stress before and during exams. For the majority the distress is transient and does them no harm, however for some students exam stress can have a detrimental effect on their wellbeing and lead to academic underachievement.

“Teachers do a fantastic job of supporting students during this difficult time, but there are few resources out there to help them, and they often end up referring students to other services.”

Professor Putwain has joined forces with Clinical Psychologist Dr Ben Aveyard to provide a series of hands-on workshops designed to give teachers the knowledge, skills, and materials to support anxious GCSE and A Level students. The workshops will provide practical support to help schools tackle the distress and underperformance caused by exam stress.

Professor Dave Putwain

Professor Dave Putwain

Professor Putwain said: “This course will equip school staff with the psychological knowledge and therapeutic tools needed to teach resilience skills to students suffering from exam stress. By upskilling teachers and giving them the confidence to provide in-house support during stressful exam periods, schools can reduce the effect of stress on their students’ wellbeing and ensure they perform to their full potential.”

The courses are part of a suite of resources for teachers developed by Professor Putwain in collaboration with Exapt CIC (Community Interest Company), a social enterprise organisation that brings together researchers, clinicians, educators and designers to create innovative and effective ways to promote wellbeing in schools.

The training courses are designed to complement STEPS (Strategies to Tackle Exam Pressure and Stress), a computer-based self-help programme for students, developed in response to Professor Putwain’s long-term research into the causes of exam stress.

David Putwain is a Professor in Education whose acclaimed and much publicised research focuses on the psychological effects of exam pressure. A former teacher who has also worked for a UK exam board, David has contributed to several books and had work published in numerous international academic journals.

More information on the workshops can be found here

Does academic resilience affect GCSE exam anxiety?

Edge Hill Professor Dave Putwain has had a new research paper published in the prestigious British Journal of Educational Psychology.

Professor Putwain’s latest study, Academically buoyant students are less anxious about and perform better in high-stakes examinations, follows his previous research which found that pupils who worry about their exam performance are more likely to do badly than those who are less anxious.

Professor Dave Putwain

Professor Dave Putwain

Professor Dave Putwain said: “The next step in my research was to ascertain whether test anxiety is an antecedent or outcome of academic buoyancy (students’ capacity to successfully overcome setback and challenge that is typical of the ordinary course of everyday academic life) and to discover whether academic buoyancy is related to examination performance. 705 students in their final year of secondary education (Year 11) participated in the study, which required them to self-report data for test anxiety and academic buoyancy.”

Examination performance was taken from the mean English, mathematics and science scores from the high-stakes GCSE exams taken at the end of Year 11.

The study results showed that academic buoyancy protects pupils against viewing exams as threatening by influencing self-regulative processes, and so enables better examination performance.

In turn, worry has a negative effect on academic buoyancy. Tension felt by pupils was also measured, however this did not appear to affect academic buoyancy.

The full article can be viewed here

Professor Dave Putwain has conducted extensive research into test anxiety, which could have a long-term impact on how teachers and parents approach pupil’s exam anxiety and consequently lead to a reduction in pupil’s stress levels, overall improving their exam performance.

Scare tactic research achieves international coverage

New research led by Edge Hill University Educational Psychology expert, Professor David Putwain, was featured in a news piece on USA TV Channel EWTN News.

The Scare Tactic: Do Fear Appeals Predict Motivation and Exam Scores? was published in School Psychology Quarterly, an academic journal of the American Psychological Association, and found that messages that used scare tactics achieved fewer positive results than messages that focused on success.

Watch the full interview below.

How to deal with exam stress

Dr Dave Putwain

Dr Dave Putwain

Exams make most people nervous, but some people, whether they’re doing their GCSE, A levels, finals or professional exams can feel totally panic-stricken.

In this podcast, Dave Putwain, Professor in Education, describes how to calm those nerves and do your best in exams.