The impact of test anxiety on metacognitive knowledge monitoring

Julie Suzanne Nathan, Fordham University


The research goal of this study was to investigate the impact of anxiety on various metacognitive and academic tasks. Of primary concern was the effect of anxiety on students' metacognitive knowledge monitoring, ability to study strategically, and academic performance. The relationship between these variables was examined and expected to differ for students with varying levels of state and trait anxiety. The study was conducted in two sessions. In the first session, students (N = 97) completed two test anxiety measures and were assigned randomly to one of four groups. One week later, all participants performed the same sequence of tasks. First, students estimated whether they could or could not solve each of 26 mathematics problems. The estimation group received evaluation instructions at this point. Then students took a multiple-choice test containing the same problems. Ego-involving instructions were given to the test group at this time. Finally, students selected any items on which they wished to receive additional help. The review group received ego-involving instructions at this time. The control group performed under neutral instructions. Immediately after each task, participants completed a state worry scale. As expected, statistically significant group differences were found indicating increases in state worry levels across administrations. Results revealed that math anxiety accounted for significant variation in students' estimations, knowledge monitoring accuracy, and test performance. In each case, students higher in math anxiety performed more poorly than their less anxious peers. Data also suggested that students higher in math anxiety reviewed a significantly greater percentage of items that they passed on the test, a nonstrategic endeavor. Unexpectedly, there were no differences among the four experimental groups on these variables. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the absence of group differences may be attributable to feedback among the groups regarding the induction of ego-involving instructions. The present study, therefore, confirmed general expectations of a negative relationship between anxiety and indices of metacognition. Given the debilitating effect anxiety can have on students' cognitive and metacognitive skills, and hence, students' learning, school psychologists should be familiar with effective intervention programs to benefit those in need of assistance.

Subject Area

Cognitive therapy|Educational psychology

Recommended Citation

Nathan, Julie Suzanne, "The impact of test anxiety on metacognitive knowledge monitoring" (2000). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9975359.