WWC review of this study

Reappraising Stress Arousal Improves Performance and Reduces Evaluation Anxiety in Classroom Exam Situations

Jamieson, J, Peters, B, Greenwood, E, & Altose, A (2016). Social Psychological and Personality Science.

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
     examining 
    81
     Students
    , grade
    PS

Reviewed: September 2019

No statistically significant positive
findings
Meets WWC standards without reservations
Progressing in developmental education outcomes—Statistically significant positive effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Community college developmental mathematics course retention

Stress Reappraisal vs. Intervention

0 Semesters

Exam 2 sample (students still enrolled at exam 2);
81 students

0.95

0.85

No

--
More Outcomes

Community college developmental mathematics course grade

Stress Reappraisal vs. Intervention

0 Semesters

End-of-course sample (students still enrolled at course end);
73 students

83.31

74.89

No

--
Student emotional status outcomes—Indeterminate effects found
Outcome
measure
Comparison Period Sample Intervention
mean
Comparison
mean
Significant? Improvement
    index
Evidence
tier

Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale: evaluation anxiety subscale

Stress Reappraisal vs. Other intervention

0 Days

Full sample;
81 students

2.24

2.64

No

--
More Outcomes

Stress appraisal: coping resources subscale (Jamieson et al., 2016)

Stress Reappraisal vs. Other intervention

0 Days

Full sample;
81 students

5.16

4.60

No

--

Stress appraisal: task demands subscale (Jamieson et al., 2016)

Stress Reappraisal vs. Other intervention

0 Days

Full sample;
81 students

2.30

2.78

No

--

Abbreviated Math Anxiety Scale: learning anxiety subscale

Stress Reappraisal vs. Other intervention

0 Days

Full sample;
81 students

1.83

1.74

No

--


Evidence Tier rating based solely on this study. This intervention may achieve a higher tier when combined with the full body of evidence.

Characteristics of study sample as reported by study author.


  • Female: 69%
    Male: 31%

  • Urban
    • B
    • A
    • C
    • D
    • E
    • F
    • G
    • I
    • H
    • J
    • K
    • L
    • P
    • M
    • N
    • O
    • Q
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    • S
    • V
    • U
    • T
    • W
    • X
    • Z
    • Y
    • a
    • h
    • i
    • b
    • d
    • e
    • f
    • c
    • g
    • j
    • k
    • l
    • m
    • n
    • o
    • p
    • q
    • r
    • s
    • t
    • u
    • x
    • w
    • y

    Midwest
  • Race
    Black
    69%
    White
    31%

Setting

The study was conducted with students in five developmental mathematics classes taught by the same instructor using the same course material at an urban community college in the Midwest (p. 3).

Study sample

The study sample included students enrolled in a developmental math course at one community college. Referring to the 93 students enrolled in the course across the five semesters, 69 percent were female, 31 percent were male, 69 percent were White/Caucasian, and 31 percent were Black/African American (p. 3). Study participants ranged in age from 18 to 58 years old, with an average age of 29.4 (p. 3). No other demographic information was provided.

Intervention Group

Students in the stress reappraisal condition received intervention materials to review immediately prior to taking their second in-class exam in a community college developmental math course. The materials instructed students to read summaries of scientific articles about the adaptive functions of stress. The materials explained that feeling stress during an exam is not harmful and, in fact, aids performance. The materials also explained how stress responses are a coping resource. Students completed two multiple choice questions after each summary to check that they had read the materials. Students took about five to eight minutes to complete the intervention. (p. 3)

Comparison Group

Students in the comparison group received control materials, described as “placebo” materials by the study authors, to review immediately prior to taking their second in-class exam in a community college developmental math course. The materials instructed students to read summaries about emotion-suppression techniques to handle stress (based on Peters, Overall, & Jamieson, 2014). The reading materials suggested that ignoring negative thoughts associated with stress during an exam aids performance. Students completed two multiple choice questions after each summary to check that they had read the materials. Students took about five to eight minutes to complete the placebo intervention. (p. 3)

Support for implementation

The instructor was blind to the results of random assignment and was thus tasked only to distribute the instruction materials assigned to each student (p. 3).

 

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