MedicineWorld.Org
Your gateway to the world of medicine
Home
News
Cancer News
About Us
Cancer
Health Professionals
Patients and public
Contact Us
Disclaimer

Medicineworld.org: Longer high-stakes tests may result in a sense of mental fatigue

Back to psychology news Blogs list Cancer blog  


Subscribe To Psychology News RSS Feed  RSS content feed What is RSS feed?

Longer high-stakes tests may result in a sense of mental fatigue




Spending hours taking a high-pressure aptitude test may make people feel mentally fatigued, but that fatigue doesn't necessarily lead to lower test scores, as per new research published by the American Psychological Association. If anything, performance might actually improve on a longer test, the study found.

"The experience of fatigue during testing does not appear to be, in and of itself, detrimental to test performance," said co-authors Phillip Ackerman, PhD, and Ruth Kanfer, PhD.

The study, in the June Journal of Experimental Psychology: Applied, stemmed from concerns that when taking longer tests over several hours in one sitting, students would feel increasingly fatigued, and, in turn, perform worse. High-stakes tests are typically used for admission to college and to regulated professions such as medicine, law and accounting.



Longer high-stakes tests may result in a sense of mental fatigue


Cognitive fatigue -- a sense of being mentally worn out or exhausted -- is actually only partly determined by the length of the test, as per the research. Some people simply seem to feel it more than others in situations that demand prolonged concentration and mental effort.

In the study, 239 freshman college students from the Atlanta area took three different versions of the SAT Reasoning Test. Under conditions simulating the actual exam, with start times of 8 A.M. on three consecutive Saturdays, the students completed tests specially constructed for three different durations: 3.5, 4.5 and 5.5 hours. (The current SAT is 3.75 hours of testing over a 4.5-hour session. In this study, the short version of the test had one less of the verbal, math and writing sections; the long version had one more of each. Otherwise, the tests were the same.) Students received a cash bonus if they beat their prior SAT scores.

Before, during and after each test, students completed a questionnaire designed to asses their mood, emotions, confidence, subjective fatigue and more. As expected, the longer they worked on a test, the more the students reported mental fatigue. At the end of 5.5 hours of testing, students reported high levels of fatigue.

However, even though students reported greater fatigue for longer tests, their average performance for both the standard and long tests was significantly higher than for the short test. In fact, the short-form average score was 1,209 out of a possible 1,600; the standard-form average score was 1,222; and the long-form average score was 1,237. Scoring was weighted to make performance comparable across the different length tests.

"A difference of 28 points, as shown between the short and long sessions, would be meaningful, particularly if a student's on the borderline for an admission cutoff," Ackerman said.

So why do some test-takers report more fatigue? Personality comes into play, Ackerman and Kanfer found. Students who reported more fatigue for the long tests also were likely to report more fatigue for the standard and short tests. They even were more likely to report fatigue before they started the tests. The students' fatigue was less correlation to how much sleep they had the night before than to individual differences in stable clusters of personality traits, such as achievement motivation and competitiveness (less fatigue) and neuroticism and anxiety (more fatigue).

In other words, test length may not matter; some people are just plain more likely to feel testing fatigue. "Fatigue may be more about the individual's expectations of and previous experience with testing than about the length of the test," Ackerman concluded.

The authors said that there is much to learn about how students regulate their effort to achieve higher scores despite longer test sessions. "One possibility is that more students respond to feelings of fatigue by increasing rather than decreasing their effort," said Ackerman.

Given the increasing reliance by schools, employers and certification boards on long high-stakes tests, Ackerman and Kanfer hope that knowing that cognitive fatigue probably won't hurt scores will encourage more students to take these tests, which serve as gateways to opportunity. However, the authors suggest that future test-takers complete entire practice tests in a single sitting, so that they know how they might feel when they take the actual test.


Posted by: JoAnn    Source




Did you know?
Spending hours taking a high-pressure aptitude test may make people feel mentally fatigued, but that fatigue doesn't necessarily lead to lower test scores, as per new research published by the American Psychological Association. If anything, performance might actually improve on a longer test, the study found.

Medicineworld.org: Longer high-stakes tests may result in a sense of mental fatigue

Acute bacterial meningitis| Alzheimer's disease| Carpal tunnel syndrome| Cerebral aneurysms| Cerebral palsy| Chronic fatigue syndrome| Cluster headache| Dementia| Epilepsy seizure disorders| Febrile seizures| Guillain barre syndrome| Head injury| Hydrocephalus| Neurology| Insomnia| Low backache| Mental retardation| Migraine headaches| Multiple sclerosis| Myasthenia gravis| Neurological manifestations of aids| Parkinsonism parkinson's disease| Personality disorders| Sleep disorders insomnia| Syncope| Trigeminal neuralgia| Vertigo|

Copyright statement
The contents of this web page are protected. Legal action may follow for reproduction of materials without permission.