Exam Anxiety Prevention Program

Anxiety Storm – Iterational Development of the Multimedia Prevention Program against Exam Anxiety in Primary School

Introducing marks in primary school means implementing cultural norms of our performance-oriented society in an early stage of childhood. Since many children and adolescents show tendencies to exam anxiety already at a young age it seems essential, to also implement sufficient coping strategies at the right time. Although many therapeutic intervention programs against exam anxiety do exist, preventive programs that take effect before negative consequences do occur, are rare. Therefore, this program aims for a preventive strategy, on how to encounter children with the topic of exam anxiety for the first time, utilizing the originally designed game Anxiety Storm. The idea behind the program is to utilize motivating characteristics of game based interactive media to support the acquisition process of therapy based coping strategies.

Back in 2013 the first implementation of the project was developed in context of a Bachelor thesis and was called Mind Quest. In 2014 the scope of the original idea was broadened by conceptualizing a prevention program based on four topical, game based lecture units, which should be used in primary school routine. In sum, the project’s iteration process includes work of two theses and two student’s research projects.

The current version of Anxiety Storm introduces Nele and Simo, the two protagonists that are on the way to their final exam in the forest of exams. They are supported by the wise owl Erwin, which functions as a mentor as he teaches them various techniques to control their emotions and cognitions on the upcoming exam.

Over the course of the project, students not only have developed the digital game Anxiety Storm that introduces the therapeutic approach on the topic within several mini games, but also a comprehensive amount of paper material, that supportively covers the digital contents and allows pupils to further reflect on their in-game experiences. Additionally, a comprehensive manual for teachers was developed, that introduces the project’s general motivation and approach as well as recommendations on how to effectively implement the program within the school’s curriculum.

A crucial aspiration at the project’s start was to realize a dense cooperation with experts of different competence areas. Those experts include teachers, media experts, psychologists and experts in character design, narration and animation. Thus, it was possible to evaluate different stages of the development not only by discussing it with experts of the field, but also with pupils of the target group. Project Website: http://www.leistungsangst-praevention.de/