Do highly test anxious pupils respond differentially to fear appeals made prior to a test?

Dave Putwain, Natalie Best

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Citations (Scopus)


Prior research has suggested that fear appeals used in the primary classroom prior to a test, messages emphasising the importance of the test and the consequences of failure, may have negative pupil outcomes by increasing anxiety and reducing test performance. This study aimed to examine whether this effect was stronger in those students who were highly test anxious to begin with. The study lasted for two weeks, where students were given fear appeals concerning an end-of-week class test for one week and no fear appeals in the other week in a counterbalanced design. Students reported higher state anxiety following their class test at the end of the week in which fear appeals were made by the classroom teacher and also performed worse in the class test. Although students with high trait test anxiety to begin with reported fear appeals to be more frequent and threatening, they did not report higher state anxiety and perform worse than their low test anxious classmates. These findings add weight to the view that fear appeals are not an effective classroom practice when used prior to tests.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalResearch in Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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