Event Title

Not so dumb jocks? The effects of physical activity on test-related anxiety in college students

Faculty Mentor

Dr. Amy Hayes

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Date of Publication

4-16-2021

Abstract

Student-athletes, perhaps surprisingly, tend to have better academic performance than non-athletes in college (as measured by factors like GPA and graduation rates). Such conflict led us to investigate what could be causing student-athletes to outperform their peers, even with the time restraints. One of the factors that is shown to influence academic performance that is not impacted by time is test anxiety (Von der Embse, 2018). A primary indicator of test anxiety is heightened levels of physiological arousal, in the form of increased heart rate. Studies have shown that trained individuals show significantly lower cortisol and heart rate responses to stressors if compared to untrained ones, suggesting that exercise provides a protective effect against stress-related disorders (Rimmele et al., 2007). Research has shown that intense aerobic training for long periods of time (230 minutes a week) leads to lower negative affect in high stress situations, like taking a test. Thus, in our study, we predict that college students' time spent exercising each week (number of minutes) will predict lower heart rate and self-reported anxiety on exam days in their classes. Our study involves a two-time (one test day, one non-test day) data collection with students that involves them reporting their heart rate as measured with a phone app-based HR monitor, and an online survey for them to report their explicit nervousness.

Keywords

Psychology, Test Anxiety, Exercise

Persistent Identifier

http://hdl.handle.net/10950/3109

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Not so dumb jocks? The effects of physical activity on test-related anxiety in college students

Student-athletes, perhaps surprisingly, tend to have better academic performance than non-athletes in college (as measured by factors like GPA and graduation rates). Such conflict led us to investigate what could be causing student-athletes to outperform their peers, even with the time restraints. One of the factors that is shown to influence academic performance that is not impacted by time is test anxiety (Von der Embse, 2018). A primary indicator of test anxiety is heightened levels of physiological arousal, in the form of increased heart rate. Studies have shown that trained individuals show significantly lower cortisol and heart rate responses to stressors if compared to untrained ones, suggesting that exercise provides a protective effect against stress-related disorders (Rimmele et al., 2007). Research has shown that intense aerobic training for long periods of time (230 minutes a week) leads to lower negative affect in high stress situations, like taking a test. Thus, in our study, we predict that college students' time spent exercising each week (number of minutes) will predict lower heart rate and self-reported anxiety on exam days in their classes. Our study involves a two-time (one test day, one non-test day) data collection with students that involves them reporting their heart rate as measured with a phone app-based HR monitor, and an online survey for them to report their explicit nervousness.