The Effects of Online Formative and Summative Assessment on Test Anxiety and Performance

Jerrell C. Cassady, Betty E. Gridley


This study analyzed the effects of online formative and summative assessment materials on undergraduates' experiences with attention to learners' testing behaviors (e.g., performance, study habits) and beliefs (e.g., test anxiety, perceived test threat). The results revealed no detriment to students' perceptions of tests or performances on tests when comparing online to paper-pencil summative assessments. In fact, students taking tests online reported lower levels of perceived test threat. Regarding formative assessment, findings indicate a small benefit for using online practice tests prior to graded course exams. This effect appears to be in part due to the reduction of the deleterious effects of negative test perceptions afforded in conditions where practice tests were available. The results support the integration of online practice tests to help students prepare for course exams and also reveal that secure web-based testing can aid undergraduate instruction through improved student confidence and increased instructional time.

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