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The effect of exam frequency on academic success of undergraduate music students and comparison of students performance anxiety levels

ABSTRACT

The general measurement and assessment approach among universities in Cyprus is to have one mid-term exam and one final exam within a semester. In terms of the validity and the reliability of the measurement and assessment processes, it is essential to understand the ways in which students got influenced by the frequency of exams in psychological terms, and whether this has any effects on their overall success. In 2015–2016 Fall Terms, Near East University, Music Education Department decided to have two mid-term exams for each semester with the unanimous decision of the council of the department. The decision was bounding for music courses within the department. The decision was taken with the assumption that there is a positive relationship between the frequency of the exams and better studying habits among students who are viewed as highly exam and exam score oriented individuals. The new approach of having two mid-term exams was only introduced for music courses, where pedagogy courses and courses related with general cultural studies were exempted. It is observed that the new exam approach increased the exam anxiety among students at noticeable degrees. Due to undesirable outcomes of the new approach on student’s behaviours, the application of two mid-term exams per semester was cancelled only after one semester. It can be argued that such decisions which are highly critical for the entire learning and educational processes need to be based on solid pillars and evaluated in the light of scientific data. The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of the aforementioned approach which is based on two mid-term exam per semester on students’ academic successes. With this study, it is also intended to reflect on the attitude of students concerning the two mid-term exam per semester approach. In this context, the research group of this study was composed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Grade Students of 2015–2016. There are 59 students in total. The exam scores received by these 59 students during the fall semester of 2015–2016 from two mid-term exams and one final exam will be compared with the exam scores they received during the spring semester of the same year where a different approach was applied as one mid-term and one final exam for the post-requisite (supplementary) courses of the previous term. The courses which were analysed can be listed as: (1) primary instrument, (2) piano, (3) voice training, (4) solfege, (5) choir and (6) orchestrate courses. These courses were selected because the scores received from these courses in different semesters can be consistently compared on the grounds that they are related to each other via being pre-requisite (preparatory)/post-requisite (supplementary) courses. Quantitative research methods were employed where survey research will be employed as the main model and causal survey research as the sub-models. For data collection, Near East University automatic information system was used to get access to the students’ exam scores in fall and spring terms of 2015–2016. An attitude scale was prepared for this study where the reliability and the validity will be controlled and pre-tests were employed for this new scale. The relationship between exam scores received by same students in two different semesters from courses related to each other were determined by using Pearson Correlation Coefficient. Besides descriptive data analysis techniques, t test and one-way analysis of variance were used at the same time.