Students have test anxiety and math anxiety. Two ways that I alleviate this for my students are
1. For tests, I allow students to talk for 5 minutes while holding the test, without writing utensils.
2. I allow students to revise anything that they submit (except for the final, for time constraints).
The purpose of the 5 minute talk is that I believe in testing the way I teach. The class is highly collaborative and students admit that they aren’t as stressed about tests because of the ability to bounce some ideas off each other for a couple minutes. An added bonus to this is that when you walk around the room, you hear some of the RICHEST mathematical conversations. (I am not exaggerating when I say that I almost got teary-eyed during a final several semesters ago because I heard great conversations coming from students who said they felt weak in math earlier in the semester). For students who have disabilities and need to take their tests in a different room, I allow them to come to class for the first 5 minutes and after the collaboration is over, they walk to their testing room.
For revisions, I tell students to not erase anything and to write revisions on a separate sheet of paper, as seeing their mistakes help them remember not to make those same mistakes again. They have to have these sentence starters:
- I got this (partially) incorrect because…
- I now know…
and then they do the problem again.
I have them do this because I strongly believe that reflection is a huge part of learning. They should reflect on what was incorrect on their first attempt and they should reflect on what is correct and why it is correct.