The effect of testanxiety on EFL entrants’ written performance at ESI

Prego Garcia, Maria Levio, Andrea

ANXIETY
 It’s the subjective feeling of tension, apprehension and nervousness that may arise due to particular situations, e.g. an exam situation  It involves several variables such as self-esteem, competitiveness, etc.

LANGUAGE ANXIETY

 It refers to the apprehension experienced when a situation requires the use of a second language at which the individuals are not fully proficient.

 “Language anxiety can interfere with the acquisition, retention and production of a new language.”
McIntyre and Gardner (1991)

TEST-ANXIETY
 A subcategory of language anxiety  It involves a feeling of uneasiness while taking exams.  Several factors affect test-anxiety, for example, students’ beliefs

BELIEFS
 “they are systems of related ideas that are accepted without questioning and tend to be held tenaciously” (Wenden, 1999)

THE STUDY

RESEARCH QUESTIONS
 What are students’ beliefs and attitudes towards written tests (compositions)?  How does test-anxiety affect written performance on first-year students at Escuela Superior de Idiomas (ESI) in General Roca, Argentina?

SUBJECTS
 Entrants of English I at ESI from the year 2008.  Traits:
   all native speakers of Spanish an average age of 21 They will receive 9 hours of formal instruction per week

DESIGN
We will deal with only one affective variable: anxiety. Consequently, we will adopt an analytic-inductive perspective.

DATA COLLECTION PROCEDURE  Diagnostic Tests  Compositions  Two questionnaires  A Post-test interview

Diagnostic Tests
 Purpose: to determine students’ levels of proficiency  We will resort to the scores obtained in the diagnostic tests which will be provided by the teachers of English I

Compositions
 We will use in-class compositions and the two term tests as another source of documentary evidence.  We will implement the use of this documentary evidence to find traces of sts’ beliefs.  We will compare them with the second questionnarie to determine the sts’ levels of anxiety.

Questionnaire Nº 1  Purpose: to have a glance at students’ beliefs towards writing.  It will be administered during the first week of the academic year

Questionnaries


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Questionnaire Nº 2
Purpose: to get a panorama of students’ perceptions and feelings when facing a test. It will be administered two weeks before carrying out the first term exam

Post-test Interview
 It will be carried out right after the mid-term exam since anxiety is at its highest point.  It will be compared with the results of the compositions to decipher the interdependence between testanxiety and achievement.

DATA ANALYSIS
 Diagnostic tests
 We will adopt the following criteria to group the students: Mark (x/100) Quality of performance
 From 1 to 45 Low  From 46 to 79 Average  From 80 to 100 High

 Questionnaires:
 We will carry out a basic
statistical analysis to find similarities to establish patterns  The information will be shown in a pie chart.

Compositions
 Compositions will be classified into three categories:
 High performance (1 serious mistake)  Average performance (2 serious mistakes)  Low performance (more than 3 serious mistakes)

Post-test interview
We will carry out a qualitative analysis II. It will complement the questionnaire about anxiety to delineate sts’ levels of anxiety III. We will compare sts’ degree of anxiety with their written results. This will enable us to answer our second research question IV. We will juxtapose this interview and the questionnaire on beliefs to find recurrent patterns. 

ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES 1º RESEARCH QUESTION:
 Time as a negative variable in testsituations.  Fear of others’ evaluations, especially teachers’ judgments.  Writing as a skill that doesn’t seem to present difficulties.  Writing as only a process that implies translation of Spanish thoughts into English.  Writing as a process of summarizing other people’s ideas.

2º RESEARCH QUESTION  We will probably find a negative correlation between test-anxiety and learners’ written scores  We may suggest that test-anxiety plays a negative role when writing compositions in a test situation.