A longitudinal study investigating how students’ perceptions of teacher fear appeals relate to academic outcomes

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Prior to high-stakes examinations, teachers may warn students of the negative consequences of failure in an effort to increase engagement and ultimately achievement. These types of messages, namely fear appeals, have been found to indirectly relate to engagement and achievement in different ways depending on how they are evaluated by the student. When evaluated as a challenge, they show positive relations, and when evaluated as a threat, they show negative relations, with engagement and achievement. The present study offers a robust test of how fear appeals relate to subsequent engagement and achievement, mediated by fear appeal evaluation, using longitudinal data. In addition, the role of achievement emotions as a possible mediator of the relationship between student evaluations of fear appeals and engagement, is explored, using cross-sectional data. Self-reported questionnaire data were collected from approximately 1,500 students, aged 14-16 years, at two time points over their final two years of secondary education. Subsequent achievement data were also obtained. Results from structural equation modelling showed that students who attended to fear appeals and evaluated them as a challenge showed higher subsequent engagement, and students who showed higher engagement showed higher achievement. Positive achievement emotions mediated the relationship between fear appeal evaluation and student engagement. In conclusion, fear appeals may be an effective strategy to improve students’ outcomes, but only if students evaluate them as a challenge. Therefore, it may be beneficial for teachers to identify those students likely to evaluate fear appeals as a threat and intervene in order to enhance the likelihood of a challenge evaluation.
Period8 Jun 2022
Event titleLiverpool John Moores University, Centre for Educational Research Seminar Series
Event typeSeminar