Public Release: 

'Exam Roulette' could quell essay-induced anxiety

American Physiological Society

(Madison, Wis.) June 21, 2018--For many students, essay tests are a source of dread and anxiety. But for professors, these tests provide an excellent way to assess a student's depth of knowledge and critical-thinking skills. At the American Physiological Society's (APS's) Institute on Teaching and Learning in Madison, Wis., Andrew Petzold, PhD, of the University of Minnesota Rochester Center for Learning Innovation, will discuss how a game of chance can lead to increased student preparation and motivation.

"Students often have negative associations with essay-only exams, either due to writing phobia, discomfort answering open-ended questions or being unsure of expectations or concepts being covered," Petzold said.

Petzold developed an assessment called "Exam Roulette" that allows students to preview potential essay questions a week before sitting for an exam. Students are allowed to ask clarifying questions about the potential essay topics, but they can't receive specific information about the content in essay responses. On the day of the exam, a 12-sided dice is used to assign students the question they will need to answer.

The additional preparation and novel approach may lead to a better experience and outcome for essay test takers. "Students report a greater motivation in studying, better retention of knowledge prior to and following the exam, and reduction in associated stress," Petzold said.

Andrew Petzold, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Minnesota Rochester Center for Learning Innovation, will present the poster "Roll for essay: A mechanism for increasing self-accountability within summative assessment" on Thursday, June 21, at the Madison Concourse Hotel.

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NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: The third Institute on Teaching and Learning will be held June 18-22 in Madison, Wis. To schedule an interview with the conference organizers or presenters, contact the communications@the-aps.org>APS Communications Office or 301-634-7209. Find more research highlights in the APS Press Room.

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 10,500 members and publishes 15 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

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