How first year occupational therapy students rate the degree to which anxiety negatively impacts on their performance in skills assessments: A pilot study at the University of South Australia.

Prue Welsh


‘Skills assessments’ are a form of assessment in the University of South Australia occupational therapy program. Both teaching staff and students have reported concerns around the use of skills assessments with regard to the level of anxiety evoked as a result of the live performance and confrontational aspects of the assessment format. This pilot study involved a cohort of 76 occupational therapy students. Feedback was sought around a specific skills assessment piece, with reference to student perceptions of their related anxiety; the impact of this anxiety on their learning; and subsequently, the ‘fairness’ of this assessment format. In addition, the study explored student perceptions of their anxiety resulting from the skills assessments as compared with that of written assessments. Results suggested that whilst skills assessments evoked heightened levels of anxiety prior to the commencement of the assessment, these symptoms abated during the assessment and did not have a significant negative impact on student ability to meet learning objectives. The results also suggested that the evoked anxiety did not result in an unfair assessment of their abilities. In addition, the majority of students indicated the anxiety resulting from skills assessments was not dissimilar from the anxiety experienced during written assessments.

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