Roberto Germán [00:00:01]:
Welcome to Our Classroom. In this space we talk about education which is inclusive of, but not limited to what happens in schools. Education is taking place whenever and wherever we are willing to learn. I am your host, Roberto Germán, and Our Classroom is official elite in session. Welcome to Our Classroom, folks. Today I am joined by not one guest, but two. Yes, y'all. Double the fun, double the enjoyment, double the learning with the doctors.
Roberto Germán [00:00:44]:
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II, who is PhD in experienced educator and entrepreneur. He holds a PhD in educational psychology and has served for headmaster for 14 years. He also holds two master's degrees in entrepreneurship and educational leadership and has studied economics and political science at the undergrad level. He's currently chief mentor officer of Digital Ventures Pte, an AI solutions and publishing company. And I'm also joined by Dr. Artyom Zinchenko, PhD and accomplished author and cognitive neuroscientist with extensive experience in the field. He earned his doctorate in cognitive neuroscience from the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive Human and Brain Scientists in Lipzig, with his research focused on emotions and cognitive conflicting processing.
Roberto Germán [00:01:52]:
And so I got one individual who's joining me from the Philippines, another one who's joining me from Germany, and I'm here in the United States of Tampa, Florida. So we are covering a spectrum on the geographical map today. Thank you for joining me to talk about test anxiety. Welcome to Our Classroom.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:02:13]:
Thank you very much for having us today and nice to be here.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:02:19]:
Thank you indeed. Such a pleasure to be here with you.
Roberto Germán [00:02:23]:
Thank you. Glad you could be here. I know you have a publication that is coming out soon, Wisest Learners, and you've covered a number of different topics in your publication that could be useful to parents, useful to educators. And I love the fact that we got this science approach. So there's a lot of research in terms of the scientific work that you all have done, and I'm interested to learn more about that because test anxiety is not a topic that I've talked about too much here on the platform in Our Classroom, but it is something that comes up. It is something that's common and so interested to learn with you as it relates to that topic. So we're going to go ahead and jump in and we'll go ahead and start with you. Wallace, can you provide a brief overview of what test anxiety is and why it's an important topic for parents to be aware of? I don't want to assume that our listeners automatically know what test anxiety is, so maybe you could just give us a brief overview.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:03:35]:
For a brief overview, it's essentially a combination of various symptoms that involve stress, tension, worries, fear of failure that happens before or during test situations. Now, parents are definitely, parents will be caring or will be concerned about test anxiety because it affects test performance. And as we all know, tests are very important in life. Like tests involve helping people get to the next level. And that's why there's also that level of anxiety. And that's what parents should be concerned about because it affects their children's future. And the way their children will perform in enduring test will impact how they will be as learners, how they will be as professionals or business people down the road.
Roberto Germán [00:04:48]:
Thank you, Artyom. I'm curious in terms of the common factors that contribute to test anxiety in children.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:04:59]:
So there are many factors that contribute to test anxiety. And one of the thing is that tests are really prominent and on average, in k twelve education in the US, there are like approximately 112 big tests and exams, not counting like small pop up quizzes, verbal exams and so on. So exams are all over the place. And one of the reasons people may experience some anxiety could be their test performance abilities. Right? So the knowledge or the subject. There is something that comes to my mind first, like there's a big study by plantain colleagues recently who's interviewed or ran a question air surveyed almost 1500 students and what they were looking at is how the students'test anxiety was, how anxious were the students while taking high stakes exams, and at the same time they were measuring their performance in different subjects, like math and English and so on. And what was interesting is that students'knowledge like math knowledge and english knowledge at the beginning of the year could predict students'test anxiety at the end of the year. So there is a strong relationship between the knowledge.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:06:28]:
So, like how well students are prepared for the test or how they're doing in that subject and their test performance. Yes, how they are performing. However, interestingly. And test anxiety. Interestingly, this relationship is not linear. It doesn't mean that the better you are in a certain subject, the more you know, the better of a student you are. Like, the brighter you are as a student, the lesser is your test anxiety. But there is some sort of a u shape dependency.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:06:59]:
So students who are underperforming or are in lowest 20th percentile of the cohort, they have higher test anxiety. But what was a bit counterintuitive at first was that the students who are in the upper 20th percentile. So students who are performing, some of the best students in the group, also had higher test anxiety as well. So test anxiety does depend on the knowledge, but it's not all of it. So there are some more factors that contribute. And when it comes to high performing students, that would be the social pressure to perform. And the pressure could be coming from different people. It could be teachers, could be peers.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:07:45]:
And of course, parents play a big role. So the expectations that we have or as teachers, as parents can really, really influence the kids as our children's test anxiety. And it's understandable, right, if you're a straight a student and then all of a sudden you got a b, which is also a good mark, but that's a worse performance for you than it used to be, or something is wrong, you maybe did not prepare well, and the students start feeling that pressure. Yeah. And then that's maybe one of the biggest influences, like, why do we feel test anxiety like we do? Kids have test anxiety in adults as well.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:08:30]:
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:08:31]:
So pressure to perform, and the second, probably strongest, the second strong point would be the fear to fail. So sometimes, especially during high stakes exam, but also on a smaller test, because we have this fear of. Because of this pressure, we also have a fear to fail. So every time you fail an exam, it could be that you start catastrophizing, especially like in elementary school and middle school. Kids think like, that's it, I'll get kicked out of school. My parents will not love me anymore. So they start exaggerating. And this exaggeration leads to test anxiety.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:09:19]:
A third factor could be negative experiences. If you fail once, if there is one test that you could not complete successfully, there is this idea that, okay, now it will happen again. So you have this experience in the past, and you keep thinking that it will happen again and again and also a bit more objective. I would say the fourth factor could be learning difficulties. There are some kids who really experience difficulties memorizing, understanding material, learning, and those objectively, their test performance is lower. And at some point, just because it happens again and again and again, so negative experiences kick in. They start feeling really bad about tests, feeling dreadful, feeling fear, and worrying about test performance. In this case, there are objective reasons, maybe not the most appropriate learning methods are used, or not enough time is invested.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:10:28]:
And the final point could be lack of preparation. So kids are able to learn, they know the best strategies, but they just do not prepare well for an exam for various reasons. And that could, of course, elicit test anxiety.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:10:45]:
Roberto Germán [00:10:46]:
I mean, something that comes to mind for me, as you share all of this and break down common factors contributing to test anxiety in children. I also wonder about the way we design our assessments. Right. I don't think we consider and talk enough about our role as educators and also policymakers. Right. We have these what feels oftentimes like really outdated ways to assess children. And if we're really wanting to get at and understand what they know, how can we just be assessing them in one way instead of offering a multitude of ways to assess what learners know, what skills they've mastered? Right. Because I'll use a personal example.
Roberto Germán [00:11:57]:
I've never considered myself a great test taker. Can I pass a test? Sure. But I don't think I'm a great test taker. I don't think I'm terrible, either. I think I'm a pretty average test taker, but the test does not, especially if we're talking about, like, traditional way to assess. Right? Here's a paper. Fill in the bubble. Fill in the blank.
Roberto Germán [00:12:30]:
Write a few paragraphs. If we're just looking at in this very narrow way of assessing, then I think it's easy for us to overlook the knowledge that our learners have and the skills that they've mastered. Right? What if we asked them to create a project? What if we asked them to narrate their learning? What if we asked them to utilize technology to create something that demonstrates what they learn? And so, Wallace, this comes to mind for me. I mean, you were a headmaster for 14 years. Talk to me about your perspective in terms of what you were seeing from your students experience in schools and the way you all were doing assessment. And do you feel that tension also?
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:13:20]:
Oh, yes, definitely. I'd like to share with you. When I took over our school, I introduced this program called projects and presentations. So I patterned it after toastmasters club, where people get to do public speaking and they do projects. And interesting enough, this kind of approach in the Philippines and in many countries in Asia is a deviation from the norm, because the norm would have been your school activity, should have been anything that has to do with tests and public speaking. For the most part, it's not about pen and paper test, but interesting enough, when the students graduated and they did a survey and asked the alumni what school activity had helped you in university the most out of all. So we did so many things, right? Math, english, science, writing, testing, so many things. But the one thing, about 70% to 80% of the alumni said that the biggest one was the project and presentation, which was not about pen and paper testing, but it was about public speaking, where people, their peers, get to listen to them orally and they get to give feedback.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:15:02]:
It doesn't mean that pen and paper tests don't have a place in society. Definitely that has a place. Right. And one reason is because it's the easiest to facilitate. But it doesn't excuse educators from being creative and innovative and coming up with other ways to evaluate what their students are learning, have learned in class.
Roberto Germán [00:15:39]:
Yeah, absolutely. Sorry, you were going to add to that.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:15:43]:
I just wanted to add one thing that really like what Wallace said about presentations being very interesting, on the one hand, for students to talk, to get feedback from peers and fellow students, but on the other hand, making a presentation has much more involvement relative to just answering, crossing these bubbles on a multiple choice test that you may cram. Just really try to memorize roads, learn material, and then you can pass a test. Right. But once you're making a presentation, for instance, or a project, it means that you're there presenting, showing slides, or like discussing a point, and then you really need to know the material to prepare to present well. Right. Because you'll get some questions, clarification questions, follow up questions, or questions that you need to come up with a solution based on the information you've learned. Right. It's not kind of written in the book already what the answers are.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:16:45]:
So I think it's a great way to assess students'knowledge. On the other hand, we should also realize that given that there are so many subjects and so many tests that we have to take to pass certain classes and it's not always possible to do so, I think even in the best of the world, I guess it's quite difficult to go away from standard pen and paper tests. And my feeling is that even given that we have such unil way to sometimes to evaluate students'performance, we can still prepare students as teachers to perform well to avoid test anxiety. There are some sort of points we could make, right? For instance, set clear expectations, let students know what should they learn, what is expected from them. So it's kind of not a black box, but they have a clear idea what to prepare for. And maybe talk to students about test anxiety, that such a phenomenon exists and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Or maybe it's time to ask for help if it's necessary, right? So not to kind of try to suppress it and hide it. So being open and transparent about this definitely helps.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:18:09]:
So there are studies that show that female students are more impacted by testing anxiety. There is a slight imbalance there. So maybe teachers could pay attention to more to female students or offer extra care a bit, knowing that there is such a finding, such a phenomenon. And one more approach would be to provide some mocking tests. You use scaffold test performance. You offer example questions so that you desentitize this unknown test that is coming, but you kind of let students expect, experience it a bit in advance so that they come prepared. They're not worried or overly worried. Right.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:18:52]:
So as test anxiety, as Wallace was saying in the beginning, it's the arousal, the physiological arousal, like increased heartbeat and wet pumps and so on. But it's kind of an overreaction of the body. So like, a slight feeling of anxiousness is not all that bad. It's again like a u shaped performance. If you're completely relaxed about the test, you may not perform as well. If you're overly reacting, then you're also not performing well. So you should be somewhere in between. Right.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:19:26]:
So it'd be kind of tensed a bit so that you are paying more attention. You are prepared, but not too much. So. Yes, it's a great point that, of course, we could use different ways to evaluate kids and provide them with opportunities to take part in projects and presentations. And we could also do more to try to reduce test anxiety, even on classical pen and paper tests.
Roberto Germán [00:19:55]:
And I'm wondering about how technology ties into all of this. And either one of you or both of you can respond to this particular question, but how does the use of technology, such as online assessments and remote learning, impact test anxiety in children?
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:20:18]:
So there are pros and cons. The pro could be something like being familiar with the technology gives a level of familiarity on the part of the student that can reduce anxiety. At the same time, being able to take the test in more familiar environment. If, let's say, during the pandemic, so many have taken tests at home. Right? So it's a familiar environment. Some would say that, oh, they're more relaxed because it's their home court, so to speak. Right. But at the same time, there can also be some aggravation when it comes to anxiety because technical issues can happen.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:21:09]:
It's almost like preparing for a big event and suddenly your wifi starts to go haywire or your laptop starts to go crazy on you. So that can add to the anxiety as well. Or for some, just being connected socially with their peers, with their classmates or teachers, that gives that level of assurance and not being around them during, let's say, an online environment, online testing environment can add that kind of anxiety as well. I did the study of screen time, excessive screen time for many students. And one thing that came out is that there is high percentage of emotional irritability in students who experience excessive screen time. And that can vary from one person to the other, but it's an experience of having anxiety that can translate to test anxiety as well. So overly exposed to screen devices can be a contributing factor.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:22:43]:
Maybe I would add a few words, if I may. So when we spoke about the factors of test anxiety, we said that like lack of preparation or maybe inefficient learning mechanism, learning skills could all contribute to test anxiety, because that would maybe sometimes lead to a failure, elicit negative experiences, and then there's a pressure from outside. But one of the core reasons there could be the lack of preparation. And when you study remotely, especially during pandemic, and I could see it with my kids and my son studying online, one would need to have a really high level of self discipline and dedication, right? Because there is no teacher around you who would be paying extra attention, extra care, and looking at, checking that you're reading the material and not browsing, surfing online. So that requires a lot of self discipline. And here the learning techniques, the learning strategies kick in. They play a big role, I would say, especially when you study remotely, you have online courses, and that's one of the chapters in our book that we spend a lot of time on discussing the learning techniques. What is the best way to encode information? What is the best way to retain information? How can you understand things better? Right? So, I mean, one could use elaboration or space, recall, space repetition relative to a cramming.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:24:15]:
So we could go in more detail if necessary. Right. About individual strategies. But strategies do play a big role, and one should maybe pay attention to that. And when speaking about the learning strategies, there is this recent work from 2022 by Maria Thebalt in Frankfurt, in Germany. So what they did, they looked at how test anxiety affects medical students'test performance and what they did. Basically, they had a big, large sample of participants who were preparing for 100 days, taking a high stakes exam in medicine. And test anxiety was an independent variable.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:24:59]:
So they were trying to see how test anxiety predicts test performance. And in fact, they could show that the higher the test anxiety in these 300 plus students, the lower was the test performance, which was kind of expected and shown many times. But the interesting point was that if they included the exam preparation, the objective exam preparation, the knowledge of students into the regression, there was no effect of test anxiety on test performance. So there is no effect of test anxiety beyond the knowledge of participants. So knowledge of students, and they had a really interesting way to analyze the knowledge. How would you do it objectively, right? So they had an online platform where students were preparing for these tests, and the platform offered students questions that were coming from previous years exams. So they kind of like example questions that could come or like something similar would be available on the actual exam. And what the researchers were able to do, they were able to collect logs from these preparations so they knew how well the students performed on these mock exams or mock questions.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:26:14]:
And so the better they were performing during these prep tests, the better their performance was on the actual exam. This is also clear, but as I said, the interesting part was that this knowledge, the ability, the learning success during these 100 days of test preparation overshadowed the test anxiety, which again underlines the effective learning part. Right. So you need to use better learning strategies, better approaches to learning, to prepare well for an exam. And then it's quite difficult to say if it would work for everyone, if it would work for elementary school, for middle school, right? But it seems that there is some evidence that better test preparation can take over and can limit the effect of test anxiety.
Roberto Germán [00:27:09]:
Thanks for sharing. So you cover some of this content in your upcoming publication, Wisest Learners. What else do you want to tell our audience about your pending publication?
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:27:29]:
We covered in the book Wisest Learners certain aspects of learning. And a big part of it that you kind of like, advocate over and over again is that in order for parents, educators and learners to be truly successful in addressing learning issues or achieving learning goals is to recognize that the solutions should not be perceived as one size fits all, right? We should see the different aspects of learning as interconnected. We should see the different aspects of learning as holistic. If we are able to do that, then Eureka. We will then start to see better and better solutions. Because one of the biggest problems that I've seen is that people tend to want that magic pill. Okay, I take this and voila. Right? I'm able to address all the learning problems of my child, my student.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:28:44]:
But the reality is there's no easy, quick formula. You really have to recognize that a person is a complex being, that there are so many aspects to it, and it's not as simple as teaching a certain strategy. When I was in Melbourne, Australia a couple of months back, one of my family friends'son approached me over dinner and shared with me that he's moving to Australia, Melbourne, and he's going to take up his undergrad. And he said that he called me like, uncle Wallace. Uncle Wallace. I'm so scared. Why are you so scared? Because I've always failed in the past I've always failed in school. I didn't do so well, and I have to sit down and really encourage him and how he can overcome that.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:29:47]:
If you think about it, some people might just teach him strategies right off the bat, but without addressing his lack of confidence, but without addressing the issues that he had about his past failures, no amount of teaching about strategies will do the work. He has to address internal first before he can move forward. So it's a simple example, but I saw that over and over again in school, and that's something that I have to learn from many experiences in working with parents, teachers and students. And I hope that that's also something that our listeners be able to see, that when it comes to learning, we have to recognize that this requires a more holistic approach, and these learning aspects are all interconnected.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:30:53]:
That's a good point. I would agree. And then, as Wallace said, the holistic approach is very important. And unfortunately, that's the truth. Right. We cannot just improve one skill or one ability in a child and let them succeed in school and become lifelong learners. And the aim of our book is to provide parents, in this case, parents. We have a teacher's edition coming early next year, but the Vices Learners Parents edition is coming in January.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:31:27]:
And so the aim of that book is to equip parents, first of all, with understanding about some of the major principles that are important for raising a wisest learner, as we called, but a lifelong learner, someone who has like a second nature of acquiring new information, of learning and constantly advancing as the modern times kind of dictate. Right. So just in few words, what we kind of advocate for, what we share with the readers, is that learning is also not only about the learning principles, how to acquire information, but it also includes a lot of emotional motivational components. It includes a lot of metacognition, it includes a lot of self efficacy and belief in one's abilities to perform. Yes. And there are some things that students have to do, they have to realize early on, the earlier the better. And there are some things that parents need to know, parents need to realize about learning. And we were trying to address it in our book.
Roberto Germán [00:32:40]:
That's great. Thank you. Yeah, learning has to be holistic, and we need all the stakeholders to do their part.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:32:47]:
That's a good summary.
Roberto Germán [00:32:50]:
So a few things here as we wrap up. First of all, if you had an opportunity to have lunch with anybody, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:33:02]:
So I'll start first. Just yesterday I heard a really terrible news that one of our good family friends passed away. We're really saddened by this news because our friend friends a dad with two kids and left a young mom, and he's quite young, and it was really a big shock. He had a major stroke and in four days passed away.
Roberto Germán [00:33:41]:
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:33:41]:
And to answer your question, I would want to have lunch with his two kids because I would like to take the time to offer them comfort, to minister to them through my presence and whether through lack of words or through my words, to be able to give them an assurance that they will not be alone. And I'm sharing this because I feel that all of us can always impact people one way or the other, and we should not lose the opportunity to impact lives, whether in big or small ways. And with my friend, I would wish I had spent more time with him. But now that he's gone, I would want to spend time with his children.
Roberto Germán [00:34:49]:
Sounds like that would be a blessing for his children and hopefully also a blessing to you. Thank you for sharing that.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:34:57]:
And if I could pick someone to have lunch with or like to talk with, spend some time talking, probably I would love to meet with Paul Pintrich. Paul Pintrich was a big figure in social sciences and in cognitive psychologist. He was a researcher who influenced my view on education, my view on holistic approach to learning. And that's a big person with some over 90,000 citations. A lot, a lot. So, very prominent figure. And I think our book benefited a lot from learning from the research of pope interest. So that would be you.
Roberto Germán [00:35:44]:
Thank you. So, any final words of advice or encouragement for parents who are navigating the challenges of helping children cope with test anxiety or for educators?
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:36:06]:
So I would encourage parents and teachers as they go in this journey of wanting to help their children or students, that it is a journey of highs and lows. It will never be perfect. What's important is that the trajectory is going up and that we're making progress, even if there will be occasional downs. But as long as you yourself believe that you're willing to learn, you're open for correction, you're open to listen to other people, to be a lifelong learner, and that you're open to making mistakes and not to be stifled by fear of failure, then I would encourage you that all of you, educators, parents, and even learners, that it's okay to make mistakes, but keep on making good strides, keep on moving forward, and you will find yourself making good progress down the road. And later on you'll just say that, oh, I've already walked 10,000 miles and I didn't even really feel that it was a long journey because I enjoyed the journey.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:37:48]:
And from my side, I would say both parents and teachers, I think should stay conscious about this, about this problematic of test anxiety that exists, and it's quite widespread. According to some statistics, ten to 40% of students may experience test anxiety at some point of their schooling time. But test anxiety is not something that we can do something about test anxiety. There are techniques, there are ways to evaluate, to assess, to identify test anxiety. There are ways to deal with it. We can help children overcome this and one should stay aware of this and monitor and in case if it's not possible to overcome this by using the strategies that we also address in our book, it's always important to contact the professionals, psychologists in the right time and help children overcome that.
Roberto Germán [00:38:48]:
Appreciate the encouragement. Lastly, where can we find these resources? I know your book is coming out soon. Where can folks learn more about your work? Where can they find the book Wisest Learners? Where can they be more informed about what Dr. Wallace Panlilio is doing and what Dr. Artyom Zinchenko is doing?
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:39:19]:
So our book is available for pre order on Amazon. Just type Wisest Learners and you'll be able to pre order. Also, we have our wisestlearners.com website, so we pretty much will post all of our activities there, all the relevant activities in relation to wise learners. And we do come up with our instagram messages that are related to learning and also with our blog articles from different publications from time to time.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:40:04]:
Yes, so I just wanted to add that we also have a blog post page on our web page. So if you're interested to look into our other articles apart from the book that are freely available for everyone. So please feel free to visit the wisestlearners.com and see if you like it.
Roberto Germán [00:40:23]:
Well, thank you for your time. Wishing you must success. I'm looking forward to continue to dig into some of these strategies. I have three young children, ages eight, five and three. So certainly these are things that I need to keep fresh on my mind and utilize the proactive strategies that you're offering to be able to identify any potential rising anxieties that I see in my children when it comes to assessments.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:40:54]:
I think that's a good age to read the book. I mean, I think it would be suitable for all ages, but your age would be the best time to start.
Roberto Germán [00:41:06]:
Well, thanks for your work. Keep pressing on, keep moving forward, keep doing the research and sharing it with the world. Appreciate you being in Our Classroom.
Dr. Artyom Zinchenko [00:41:14]:
Thank you so much for having us today.
Dr. Wallace Panlilio II [00:41:17]:
Thank you for having us.
Roberto Germán [00:41:23]:
As always, your engagement in Our Classroom is greatly appreciated. Be sure to subscribe, rate the show, and write a review. Finally, for resources to help you understand the intersection of race, bias, education, and society, go to multiculturalclassroom.com. Peace and love from your host, Roberto Germán.