Background to the Study
Test and testing are part of all educational programmes. In basic nursing school classroom content is complex, the scope is broad and the pace is accelerated. Frequent testing of students is necessary throughout the programme for evaluation of progress in mastering content. Also at the end of planned instruction, preliminary training stage (PTS), junior block, intermediate block, students are given examinations. Their performance in such examinations is used to make decisions that impact on the students. Examination performance thus is an important issue for the students. Students finishing their PTS verbalize and exhibit a great deal of anxiety regarding PTS examinations.
Anxiety is one of those emotional components of human life; it is a basic human emotion consisting of fear and uncertainty that typically appears when an individual perceives an event as being a threat to the ego or self-esteem (Sarason, 1988 in Eric Digests 2005). When students develop serious fear of performing poorly in an examination it is termed test anxiety. According to Zeidner (1998), test anxiety is a multidimensional sign that can be described as a group of phenomenological, physiological, and behavioral reactions that occur with possible negative consequences or failure in an examination or similar evaluative situation. Test anxiety especially worry has impact on academic performance and working memory (Eysenk, 2001). There are two major tasks for students who find themselves under test condition. One is to be able to cope positively with that feeling of unpleasantness and uncertainty brought about by test and similar situations. The other is to live up to expectation of the test by performing well. Most students might study hard to pass tests but might not be able to overcome or resolve the conditions they find themselves in during examinations such as test anxiety.
Examination performance is the grade point average or score obtained following an examination. This is often expressed in percentage e.g. (50%) or in letters e.g. A, B etc. There are many factors that affect examination performance; one of these is test anxiety. Researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of American students experience test anxiety (Strauss, 2012).
Some research works carried out in Nigeria have shown that our students in primary, secondary and higher institution experience test anxiety (Ebigbo, 1982 in Akubuiroh, 1990). Although Kalu (1980) and Akubuiroh (1990) did some work on the relationship between test anxiety and examination performance, it has been long. No recent major work has been done to show whether the level of test anxiety (high, moderate or low) relate significantly to examination performance (high, moderate or low score levels). The focus of this study therefore is to determine the relationship between test anxiety and examination performance.
Statement of Problem
The prevalence of poor academic performance among secondary and tertiary students has been high in Nigeria (Ekundayo, 2010). For the past three years both the senior secondary school certificate (SSCE) results and joint admission and matriculation board results have been poor. For instance in the 2013 SSCE GCE only 29.17% of candidates obtained credits and above in five subjects including English and Mathematics which showed 8% decline over 2012 GCE results. The likely factors were stated to include qualification and experience of teachers, poverty, method of conducting the examination and test anxiety of the students.
In the case of Basic Nursing School, the PTS examination is believed to induce a great deal of anxiety because out of the four papers taken in the examination if a student fails three or four papers he/she will have to discontinue the nursing programme whereas failing two papers will give him/her opportunity to repeat the PTS class for six months and this also means waiting for the next PTS class to come in thus losing one year in the course of study. In the same vein failing one paper will subject the student to re-sitting for that one paper. Only the students who pass all four papers and oral/practical will happily move to the next level.
Also in the Basic Nursing Schools there are cases of nursing students who come in with good ordinary level grades, participate actively in class work, do their assignments, prepare for examinations and think they have a grip of the course material but on the day of examination some of them blank out and feel so nervous that they cannot respond to those questions they knew the answers the night before (Lyness, 2010).
Most studies focusing on examination performance centred outside the personality construct of the students such as test anxiety. Factors such as teaching methods, experience of the teachers, school and classroom environment and the like have been studied and recommendations made and there is no evidence of improvement. The researcher wondered whether the problem may be associated with test anxiety and that gave impetus to the study.
In addition, contradicting findings in this area have been reported in other countries. Hence the need to investigate the level of test anxiety of students prior to and during examination and see if the test anxiety has any relationship with students’ examination performance in basic nursing schools.
Purpose of the Study
This study intends to find out if there is any relationship between test anxiety and examination performance of basic nursing students.
Objective of the Study
Based on the purpose of study the following objectives were set for the study.
- To determine the test anxiety levels of basic nursing students during examination.
- To determine the relationship between test anxiety scores and examination performance of nursing students.
- To determine if there is a significant difference in the test anxiety levels of students in the two schools.
Ho1: There is no significant relationship between test anxiety scores and examination performance/scores of basic nursing students.
Ho2: There is no significant difference in test anxiety levels of nursing students from UNTH and those of ESUTH.
Significance of the Study
It is hoped that findings from this research will show the levels of test anxiety of nursing students during examination and the relationship between the test anxiety and examination performance.
These findings will help students who have severe anxiety to seek counseling and/or strategies for coping with test anxiety before taking examinations.
Also findings from this research will help nursing educators to understand why many able students fail examinations and exist Nursing programmes. This will enable them implement methods aimed at reducing test anxiety among students.
In addition findings from this work will help Nursing and Midwifery Council of Nigeria inculcate techniques and strategies for coping with test anxiety in the curriculum of basic nursing schools to ensure good examination performance.
Scope of the Study
This study will cover two basic schools of nursing in Enugu urban namely, school of nursing University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) and school of nursing Enugu State University Teaching Hospital (ESUTH) both in Enugu urban. The variables concerned in the present study are Test Anxiety, Examination performance and the relationships between the two.
This study is also delimited to determining the test anxiety scores of the students, whether there is a relationship between test anxiety score and examination performance and whether there is a difference in the tests anxiety levels of students in the two schools.
The study will also be delimited to the PTS nursing students in the two schools. PTS nursing students were chosen because of the PTS examination which is very anxiety inducing as a certain level of failure will lead to discontinuing the nursing programme.
For the purpose of this study, the terms listed below are defined as follows:
Test Anxiety: feeling of distress or nervousness and other emotional symptoms during a test or examination as measured by Sarason Test Anxiety inventory used for the present study. There are three categories of test anxiety.
Mild Test Anxiety: This is test anxiety scores from 40 – 79.
Moderate Test Anxiety: This is test anxiety scores from 80 – 119.
High/Severe Test Anxiety: This covers scores from 120 – 160.
Examination Performance: End of PTS examination scores as published by UNTH and ESUTH.
Nursing Students: PTS students in the school of nursing UNTH and school of nursing ESUTH.
PTS Examination: This is the first examination taken after six months of preliminary nursing training.
Sarason Test Anxiety Scale: Also known as reactions to tests anxiety scale will be used to measure test anxiety in this study.