Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:00:00]:

Welcome, advocates, to another episode of the Leading Equity podcast, a podcast that focuses on supporting educators with the tools and resources necessary to ensure equity at their schools. Today's special guest today is we actually have 2 guests today, doctor Wallace and doctor Archim. So without further ado, Doctor Wallace, doctor Archim, thank you so much for joining us today.

Speaker B [00:00:23]:

Thank you for having us here today.

Speaker C [00:00:25]:

Thank you for having us here, doctor Sheldon. Thank you so much.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:00:29]:

Pleasure is all mine. Now you are both coauthors of the upcoming forthcoming book, WISEST Learners Parent edition, unlock the secrets to your child's academic success. I'm excited about this because our topic today is 5 things fueling your child's test anxiety, and 5 ways you can help them ahead of time. And I think this is very, very, very important. But before we get in today's topic, Archion, I wanna start with you. I'd love for you to share a little bit about yourself and what you currently do.

Speaker B [00:01:00]:

Thanks a lot. I'm a cognitive neuroscientist And a faculty member at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. And, basically, I'm doing research in cognitive and emotional control and spatial long term memory. I'm teaching at the faculty. I'm a cognitive psychologist.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:01:15]:

How do you even get into it? Like, what made you want I'm curious. What made you wanna get into cognitive psychology?

Speaker C [00:01:21]:

Well, it's

Speaker B [00:01:21]:

a long story. I I was preparing to be a therapist, and, my first intention was to be a a like a clinical psych a psychologist and a therapist. And then at some point, I just realized that I'm more interested in research and working in the lab rather than working with patients. And that's what brought me to, experimental research, and I loved it. I first did my master's and then PhD, and then I've decided to stay in science. And, in the last 6 years since my, since I got my PhD, I've been working at university.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:01:51]:

Got you. And you're in Germany. Right?

Speaker B [00:01:53]:

I'm in Germany in Munich. That that's correct. Yes.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:01:56]:

I love the the connections with technology. That's awesome. Let's go to Wallace. Tell tell us about, yourself, doctor Wallace.

Speaker C [00:02:04]:

Hi, doctor Sheldon. So I, am the chief currently the chief Mentor officer of company that's based in Dubai Digital Ventures, which is part of the organization A group of organizations that responsible for accrediting schools under the WICEST Learners, program. So, I've been a 14 years school headmaster of 2 schools based in the Philippines, And, my PhD is in Educational Psychology. I I love the fact that in my undergrad and graduate studies, so I have, like, Multiple degrees there in economics as well as in, entrepreneurship and educational leadership because It allows me to see things from different angles, which is something that I really love, like, being able to capture different aspects, so different perspectives.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:03:01]:

Got you. Okay. So I I have, maybe this is a weird question, but, you know, we got doctor Archim. He's in Germany. We got doctor Wallace here in in say you do work in Dubai and and the wisest learners.

Speaker C [00:03:18]:

But I'm but I'm now in Thailand.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:03:21]:

Okay. Now you're in Thailand. Now you're in Thailand.

Speaker C [00:03:23]:


Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:03:23]:

So how in the how in the world did the 2 of you link up together for this book?

Speaker B [00:03:28]:

So we've we've known each other for quite some time, and we were friends working on some projects together. And at some point, My son, 2 3 years ago, my son entered school, and he had some difficulties in school. And I was coming to To Wallace, you know, to to seek his advice as a, you know, as a school principal, as as a really experienced person in education, Just asking he get advices for very various different topics. And, we spent hours discussing these. And at some point, we thought, why don't we look into scientific literature? What do we know on this topic? And, you know, we did a thorough literature research and spent hours discussing further. And at some point, we've decided why don't we share this knowledge that we've collected So far because, you know, as time went, it became massive what we've learned, and we thought a lot of this scientific literature is Either behind the paywall or behind the scientific terms that is not so easy to understand maybe for general public, so we thought, why don't we share it with everyone? And here we are, 2 years later.

Speaker C [00:04:31]:

It's really something that's kind of like lost opportunity in that sense, right, where There's so much out there that has already been conducted in terms of research studies, but the general public does not necessarily get To know them and such a waste. And, so, we felt that it's so important that you get We get this out, but at the same time to be able to communicate it in such a way that parents, educators, the students themselves will be able to not only understand, but appreciate and, like, and love it. So So that's kind of, like, our advocacy. That's our passion.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:05:11]:

Gotcha. Okay. Let's get into it because I I wanna run these down, these 5 things fueling your health, test anxiety, and 5 ways you can help them ahead of time. Now My audience is they're educators, and so, sure, there's gonna be some that are parents. I'm a parent as well. I guess I have school aged children. But I really wanna speak primarily to our teachers, our educators who have students in the classroom, who do have test anxiety. And I wanted to start with I guess, Wallace, we'll we'll we'll have you start.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:05:44]:

What is that first thing that's fueling some of the children's test anxiety?

Speaker C [00:05:48]:

Okay. Let me just add that we will also have a teacher's edition. So that's important to note. So aside from the parent edition, we also have the teacher's edition. So, Yes. The first one that that comes to mind when it comes to testing side effectors would be fear of negative evaluation. When test takers are so concerned about being evaluated and in a negative way That they that they they will experience potentially the kind of anxiety that will make them freeze up during an exam. That will make their mind wonder.

Speaker C [00:06:23]:

And during a test, what can happen is they they will be so distracted by it To the extent that they won't be able to function well during an exam. Not to mention, while they're preparing for the exam. It's a big problem, and that's something that every test taker will have to overcome. That just comes with the territory of taking tests That you will be evaluated one way or the other. But that fear of negative evaluation can overcome One's feelings that, that will result to, those feelings becoming tense anxiety.

Speaker B [00:07:00]:

One important component of The fear of negative evaluation is the fear of rejection. Oftentimes, parents put their grades on the way of, you know, their attitude towards Kids. So I will respect or I will be positive towards my children if they are straight a students or if they're if they get good grades. And oftentimes, like, definitely, kids ex you know, feel this, and they have the fear of rejection Through the negative evaluation, that is, they're not really maybe potentially afraid of the, you know, negative tests or, you know, negative grades, But they're, like, they have a fear of rejection from their parents. And something similar could be communicated to children by teachers as well. So It could be that a teacher's positive attitude towards each student is defined by their grades or how they perform on the test or running an exam. So that fear of rejection of not being welcomed or being labeled somehow by parents, by teachers, by peers maybe, that's what drives the, you know, fear of negative evaluation.

Speaker C [00:08:10]:

So, like in, for example, in a classroom, right, it's so important to have the kind of environment Where the teachers early on, even way way before the tests come out, right, that they will create this kind of environment where the students feel that it's okay to make mistakes. They will feel that, oh, okay. Testing is That the end all be all that this is not something that will define me as a person. That will, Whatever the results are, that will not be my sole identity. So, in when teachers come up with, Establish this kind of, environment that will that will then encourage them to participate. That will encourage the students to Speak up whenever the teachers ask questions and they don't feel that they're being judged. Right? They're that they will be rejected, Then that's a build up. So teachers play a huge role, but they have to start right away at this camp.

Speaker C [00:09:15]:

Start of the school year. Teachers don't have to wait For a test, they don't have to wait before a big exam. The the very moment that they're students, then it's so important to establish, the kind of safe and caring environment.

Speaker B [00:09:30]:

And one important view on tests that teachers should convey is as as a feedback, The feedback of your current state of knowledge, how well you've prepared. And test grades should be seen as Something that should help students see where they have problems, what should be improved, and where they're good at. So this view on tests As a feedback, should be helpful because it removes, you know, self blame or removes the fear of rejection.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:10:00]:

Let's move on to the second one. Who would like to take that one on as far as the second thing that's fueling children's test anxiety?

Speaker B [00:10:08]:

Well, the 2nd point, which is quite important, negative prior experience or prior bad experiences. In k twelve education, it is estimated that students have on every somewhere around 112 tests, Major exams and tests, and that is not including some some quizzes, smaller tests, small exams, verbal exams, some smaller presentations where students' performance is evaluated. And it's natural that somewhere along the line, students may not be well prepared. They may not be feeling Well, that day, they may fail. And depending on how the teachers react, how the parents react, how the environment in class is. Such a potential failure or maybe, not such a positive experience in tests, Maybe ingrained in students, and they may transfer these negative experiences, on all subsequent tests. And they could be anticipating that, something similar will happen again.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:11:07]:

So do do we suggest that we need to like, as teachers, We need to ask questions to our students like that. And, you know, hey. How are you feeling about going into this next test? How are you feel about going into the exams? May having some conversations with students prior to his exam. Come I'm hearing there it sounds like there is a connection between the first and the second one. Fear of negative evaluations because of previous experiences. To me, they they sound linked together. What are your thoughts, Artiom?

Speaker B [00:11:38]:

That's a very good point. These first two points are definitely connected. And, you know, the teachers can create a certain atmosphere in class, Certain expectations. And for students, they can show how they react to good exams, to potentially not so good exams. And, of course, the way they act can make students react to negative experiences or to Fear of rejection differently in in in the future. So one important point is to actively or explicitly Speak about such thing as test anxiety. If there is a communication and explicit talk and, you know, acknowledging that there is such a thing that, According to statistics, up to 25% of students experience some sort of test anxiety. In Germany, 13% of College students actively seek therapeutic help to overcome test anxiety because they're just, you know, dropping classes or fail exams Because of test anxiety.

Speaker B [00:12:42]:

So speaking about this openly and creating this atmosphere of trust And support, should definitely be helpful for students to overcome both, you know, maybe not to, on the first A place to deal with fear of rejection, but also to be more calm or more relaxed about these potentially rare negative experiences.

Speaker C [00:13:06]:

And, in addition to that, even though it would be quite understandable that negative experiences can cause a fear of negative evaluation, It's also innate in us being humans, right, that we do not want to be rejected, that we do not Want to be negatively evaluated. So even if we we haven't really experienced negative experiences Which resulted in rejections or evaluations, but just because people just don't want to be rejected. So when you go to, to take a test, then that comes that comes with it already that you have to that every test taker would have to manage.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:13:48]:

I'm loving these these these conversations because, I mean, it's real. I mean and I and I would imagine this is k twelve. This is not just, oh, just high schoolers feel this way. You know? This is, I would imagine even our kindergarteners have could have some sort of anxiety and stuff even with some previous experiences. So I think this is a really good conversation. Let's let's move on to number 3. Artiom, what what are your thoughts on the third thing that, could contribute to test anxiety.

Speaker B [00:14:15]:

So the third thing that could contribute to test anxiety is a lack of preparation or potentially inadequate preparation. So it could be that students do spend time learning for a test or learning for an exam. And it's possible that they're using Not the best learning strategies. They could be using something like rote learning or cramming or, trying to use strategies that would not result in successful Successful learning that could result in a situation where it seemingly students spend hours preparing for a test. And they still once the test starts, they cannot remember something. They cannot solve some mathematical problems or cannot answer questions. And that would lead again to a negative experience. So what we advocate for is to alleviate test anxiety, one should Be using the most effective learning strategies, like spaced repetition, right, or spaced learning, spaced revisions, and many others.

Speaker B [00:15:15]:

Just the fact that you you do you you learn properly from the beginning would make you confident that you've studied long enough, and that will result in a in a positive outcome during the test.

Speaker C [00:15:27]:

There's plenty of, like, strategies that test takers can definitely use To prepare. One of my favorites is metacognitive strategies, which would involve being aware And reflective of their of the strategies that they use when it comes to learning because then they can pivot, they can change, they can Choose the right strategy for their their particular learning task. So, for example, Artiom shared, We, in the book, mentioned the, the importance of having periodic retrievals. So, when you prepare for a test, You you'll need to make sure that you allot sufficient time to do your review and to do it in the most strategic way. Something as simple as that will make a big impact. So, when when teachers are able to integrate that in their pedagogy, then they will be able to maximize the time and energy of their students. It's so important to be optimal because the reality is, even learning has, has to follow the laws of economics, which is, like, resources are scarce. And, in this case, You have you only have so much time in the world.

Speaker C [00:16:47]:

You only have, like, so much energy. In as much as you want to study, let's You spend so much time studying. You only have so much time. You have so much energy.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:16:56]:

So just a quick recap. I have, Number 1 is fear of negative evaluations. 2 is negative previous experiences. The third one would be lack of preparation or and adequate preparation. What we say is number 4 when it comes to test anxiety.

Speaker C [00:17:14]:

When it comes to, number 4, we'd like to Think of, like, the pressure to perform. This is like a big issue for, test takers because Of the concern that the or the pressure to be perfect. Like, they want to go Triple a or 1 100 for the test every single time. And, very often, this has been caused by external pressures By parents, in particular, such pressures can be overwhelming for a child. It's so important to be aware of this Pressure to perform, because if if not, the anxiety will grow. So it's good for teachers to be aware that this is Not only for testing societies, not only it doesn't only happen, or occur when students are struggling. This also happens When students are achieving are high are high achievers. In fact, it's like, one.

Speaker C [00:18:18]:

I just remember this, like, one of my professors in university when I was, working on my, PhD, She shared that she did a study in her K12 in a K12 school and The results showed that many honors students, a significant number, were cheating And just like, oh, these are like high achievers, but a big part of it was because they were pressured to perform. Like, they cannot Fail. They have to succeed all the time. So such pressure can be overrun.

Speaker B [00:18:55]:

Once we speak about, test anxiety, the first thing that comes to mind is the students that are not doing so great in school being anxious about their performance. But in fact, it's also the higher achievers, Straight a students who may also experience great test anxiety. And one way to to overcome this Would again be to not overemphasize grades. On the one hand, grades are super important. You know, you need to get a certain level of GPA to Get admitted to college to get a better, you know, position. These are important points, and it's important that we Let students know or, you know, younger learners that grades are important in a way. That's the, you know, evaluation of their hard work. On the other hand, again, These tests and these grades should be viewed as a feedback, as, something that shows where they are right now And how much more they should work or in which direction that should take some stress away.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:19:55]:

I love it. Okay. We got one more. Last one here, talks about or for our conversation in regards to 5 things fueling your child's test anxiety. I'm gonna stick with you, Archim. Why don't you share with us what is the last thing?

Speaker B [00:20:10]:

Last thing that, we could mention, it's it's a negative self talk, especially in, elementary school. And Once students start having formal tests, their way of thinking is also could be described as catastrophic thinking. It's all or nothing. I, I failed the test. I will get kicked out of school. I'll not be able to go to college, and all these sort of things. There are some studies that show that grades 2 to 4 is where the test anxiety peaks the most. That's when the, you know, the formal testing starts most of the time in most of the schools.

Speaker B [00:20:46]:

Hence, that's a very sensitive period where parents and teachers Should pay extra attention to, students' test taking performance through their thinking about tests, how they feel about it, how they view, both positive and negative experiences. So negative self talk or catastrophic thinking.

Speaker C [00:21:06]:

I'd like to share some examples of this, negative Self talk in the context of what we discussed with regards to the other factors. Because this is a these are all inter or interlinked. When it comes to, for example, pressure to perform, student might say, I must perform perfectly or I am a failure. When it comes to fear of, negative evaluation, oh, everyone will think I am so dumb if I don't score high. When it comes to negative experiences, Negative self talk can be I've done poorly before, so I'll fail again. When it comes to lack of preparation, I haven't Prepared enough, so I'm probably going to fail. All of these statements, when a student talks to to themselves, then they will they will feel that they are They're going to fail, that they're going to struggle, that will make it very difficult for them to Overcome test anxiety.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:22:03]:

Yeah. So so what I'm hearing is it sounds like negative talk can be related in all of these scenarios here off off I guess, all 4 previous ones that we mentioned, like the fear of negative evals, the previous experiences, lack of prep, pressure to perform, all of these things. We could say it in our heads. Oh, I messed up before. Four, I didn't prepare enough. I didn't study enough. I didn't you know, I I I'm supposed to get all a's, and and, you know, I wanna get to this college and get this scholarship. So all these things can invoke lot of negative thoughts.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:22:38]:

And so I I think that's a a great way to to wrap up the conversation in these 5 things. And I and I would imagine that there's more to to to test anxiety. Yes. We've we've selected 5, to talk about today. But, I mean, obviously, See, folks, you wanna get the book and and get this information and and learn. This is the parents edition, but the teachers edition is coming out soon as well. Is that correct?

Speaker C [00:23:02]:

In January. It will be coming out in January as well.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:23:05]:

In January. Nice. Well, you know, I I thoroughly in enjoyed today's conversation. Archie, gonna throw this one out to you. I'd love to have you take us home with your final word of advice to our listeners.

Speaker B [00:23:16]:

Testing anxiety is a common phenomena. It's a complex phenomenon that can could be composed of many multiple points, reasons, and, you know, drivers. But if we try to boil it down to most important underlying mechanisms, I would say these are fear of rejection, So the attitudes that students, young learners, you know, experience from parents, from teachers, from classmates, from peers, And the lack of preparation or inefficient preparation. So the learning strategies younger learners or students Of all ages, actually, used to prepare for their exams. So if for me as a parent, I'm trying to target these 2 points. Let my kids know that tests are a way to get a feedback. It's not nothing that defines my love or my attitudes to them. And we try to use the best strategies for them to prepare for an exam, and then, they do the best they can they can, and that's all what matters.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:24:23]:

Alright. I love it. Wallace, what about you? What are your last final words of advice to our listeners?

Speaker C [00:24:29]:

Take the time to help your students, our students, for them to be able to, think in a way that will Be more balanced. That will be more, positive so that they will be able to have the reserve and Fortitude to overcome whatever negative thoughts may might come their way. And that has to start early Because these things take time. It's not something that will just be, said the day before the exam. It has to start early. Start of the school year, don't play, build that relationship so that their students will listen to you when you encourage them to do so.

Dr. Sheldon Eakins [00:25:13]:

Perfect. I love it. You know, I I I'd look forward to, you know, grabbing a copy of myself and then definitely wanna grab the teacher's edition. But once again, I have doctor Wallace, doctor Archam here with us. Authors of wisest Learners, parent addition, unlock the secrets to your child's academic success. Wallace and and and, Archam, thank you so much. It has Truly been a pleasure. Thank you for your time.

Speaker B [00:25:38]:

Thank you so much for your time.

Speaker C [00:25:39]:

Thank you, doctor Sheldon, and

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