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How do Students Experience Taking Key Stage 4/5 Public Examinations and What Works to Support them and Why?

Power, NA; (2017) How do Students Experience Taking Key Stage 4/5 Public Examinations and What Works to Support them and Why? Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This research focused on school life (assessments and transitions) as an area of change and insecurity in young people’s lives, which has been shown to generate stress and induce anxiety symptoms (Seiffge-Krenke, 1993). The experiences of nine students aged 15-17 years, who were taking Key stage 4 (Secondary level) and 5 (Further Education) public examinations were explored. Two school staff in pastoral roles were interviewed to gather their perceptions of student experiences. The research took place in one secondary school in the UK where I was on placement as a Trainee Educational Psychologist (TEP). Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) was used to analyse the data. There are two UK based studies (Denscombe, 2000; Putwain, 2009) that have collected qualitative data on student experiences of taking exams. Whilst these studies have helped to highlight what factors might exacerbate feelings of exam stress within the school context, they do not consider the idiosyncratic nature of the exam experience and what factors help students to cope better. In choosing a case study approach with IPA as a methodology, it was possible to develop a rich picture of students’ unique experiences of the exam period. Three overarching concepts were identified in the data: the stress cycle, grades, expectations and identity, and resiliency and coping. Students who were better able to regulate feelings of stress, were those who had built a range of coping skills alongside key attachment figures. It is hoped that findings from the research can be used to inform EP practice in terms of the guidance that EPs might give to schools, particularly in developing effective supportive processes and practices in school.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: How do Students Experience Taking Key Stage 4/5 Public Examinations and What Works to Support them and Why?
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Psychology and Human Development
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1545274
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