Test anxiety and the attention training technique (ATT) : a feasibility study.
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Cochran, Channing J., 1989-
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Approximately one out of four students report experiencing high test anxiety, which has been shown to negatively affect cognitive processes, such as attentional control, often leading to impaired academic performance and heightened emotional distress. Prior interventions (i.e., skills training, relaxation training, and cognitive modification) have been unsuccessful in reducing long-term test anxiety and improving test performance. It has been suggested that the attention training technique (ATT), an auditory-listening technique aimed at increasing attentional control, may be beneficial in reducing test anxiety in an undergraduate student population. ATT can be easily administered electronically, making it an eHealth intervention with considerable reach for students with limited resources who experience debilitating test anxiety. However, no study to date has examined the feasibility of an eHealth version of ATT for test anxiety administered solely in electronic form. The present study aimed to investigate 1) the feasibility and 2) the effectiveness of an eHealth version of ATT in reducing test anxiety in an undergraduate student population. Study design included randomization of 51 undergraduate students who self-reported high levels of test anxiety to one of two intervention groups: ATT (n = 23) and an active control group (music listening; n = 28). Participants were asked to listen to a 12-minute audio recording (ATT or classical music) daily for two-weeks. Self-reported measures of test anxiety, metacognitive beliefs, and attentional control were completed before and after the two-week period. Nineteen participants (83%) completed the ATT intervention and listened to the audio recording an average of 10 out of 14 days. Participants perceived the ATT intervention to be user-friendly and helpful in reducing test anxiety. Additionally, study results indicate that both interventions led to significant reductions in test anxiety and metacognitive beliefs, as well as an increase in attentional control, with there being no significant differences in measures across the two groups. These results provide evidence for the feasibility of an eHealth version of ATT within an undergraduate student population, yet further research is needed to investigate if ATT leads to more robust long-term changes in test anxiety compared to other active treatments.