Fáilte & Welcome
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Highly Commended Project
For the Young Scientists Exhibition 2009 we, Maria Corrigan and Susan Clinton, prepared a project to see how both stress and relaxation affect a student's ability to cope successfully with exams. In order to do this we decided to investigate into three main areas:
- The effects of stressed and relaxed environments on students during exams
- The effectiveness of relaxation techniques, according to student trials
- How students, parents and teachers view the subject of stress versus relaxation in relation to one's education
In order to investigate into these three areas we divided our experimentation methods into three sections; surveys, the use of relaxation diaries and an exam to test select students in both stressed and relaxed environments. The latter of the three was our main section of experimentation as it would show specifically how stress and relaxation affect student exam performance.
We chose six students from 1st year and six students from 2nd year by giving a basic mathematical BEMDAS test to two full classes. They were given five minutes to complete a fifty question test in a standard classroom environment and twelve students were chosen who received an average score of approximately eight correct answers. Three students were then taken from each group of six to partake in the second, more stressful test and the other six students partook in the relaxed-environment exam. The secondary testing was done with the use of our equipment; a blood pressure monitor was used before the exam and a heart monitor was used while the test was being taken. The blood pressure monitor was used on an average school day to take the twelve students' normal blood pressure and then again before the second exam. The level of increase in the readings would scientifically prove whether the students felt stressed/relaxed during the exams as stress increases one's blood pressure due to the increased rate that the heart works at in reaction to a tense situation. The heart monitor showed how the students' heart rate responded to the test which further proved how stressed/relaxed each participant was while being tested.
Upon completing this part of the investigation we found that the majority of people performed better in the more stressful environment than in the relaxed alternative. 4 out of 6 students who participated in the stressed experiment surpassed their initial scores in comparison to the 1 out of 6 students who improved while more relaxed. There were exceptions to this pattern; one student in particular reacted excessively to the stressful situation. Her blood pressure reading suggested an acute possibility of fainting, however; it was clear that in most cases the preferred environment in an exam situation is that of a more stressful one. This preference does not always apply directly to exam situations though, as some students feel that by being stressed over an extended period of time before an exam one's ability to focus revision attempts becomes compromised; i.e. distress is unconstructive.
The relaxation diaries were issued to the purpose of assessing four of the main methods of relaxation for one week in order to see how affective they were. The four methods assessed were:
- Deep Breathing
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation
- Guided Imagery
Four Third Year students were used to test these methods, being one of the more stressful years in the school as, not only are they in an exam year, they have never completed a state exam before. The four students trialled the relaxation methods for the week and by mid-week each student was repeatedly recording the methods as effective. Some methods, such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation, only reduced physical stress as opposed to psychological stress. This makes it ineffective as a means of releasing school induced stress as the majority of school related stress is in fact psychological. Due to time restraints and the pressure of completing school work on time some techniques required too much time to do and had to be completed at home, thus also making them unsuitable for school situations. Because of these limitations Deep Breathing was the best technique for students to use for school stress.
A total of three different surveys were conducted over the course of the investigation; one of parents, students and teachers. The student and teacher surveys were written in such a way that it was possible for us to compare some of their answers to each other. The student survey showed that although they would prefer to work in a relaxed environment in school some, namely those in exam years, admit that by being stressed by school work in preparation for exams they work harder and would not perform as well if they had not felt that pressure to succeed. In comparison to this the teacher survey showed that teachers would prefer to be more relaxed in class yet they feel that due to the size of their typical classes they cannot afford to allow students to relax. They claim that because of the amount of students that they have to teach it is necessary to standardise the work they receive, giving expectations to each student. Again we see that despite preferences, people see the need to be stressed in order to work.
The parent's survey showed interesting yet typically nurturing results. The majority of parents placed their daughter's mental and physical health above their education and felt that methods of release and relaxation were important in preparation for exams, just not always as important. The majority of people also felt it necessary to encourage them to perform intellectually, as one parent said "in order to progress". However, in terms of would they perform better in an exam when worried or confident the majority said they would and have performed better when worried, thus showing that, like the teachers and students, they see the need to apply pressure to the students so that they reach their potential.
In conclusion, we discovered that stress does in fact improve the exam performance of the majority of people, all three groups of people; parents, students and teachers, realise and utilise the need for stress in order to succeed, and relaxation methods are effective once one is prepared to take the time out in order to practise them. It is also evident that, although some levels of stress are beneficial, distress causes one's performance to deteriorate, proving the importance of moderation in terms of work and the necessity of a means of release, whether through sports, socialising or, the most popular method mentioned on the student survey, by listening to music.
The finals saw the best Leaving Certificate science students from around the country compete against one another. Although the students did not place, they did both the school and themselves proud.
Congratulations to all the cast and crew of the musical HONK! which was staged in front of excited and enthusiastic nightly audiences on Tuesday 18th, Wednesday 19th, Thursday 20th, and Friday 21st of November and to the matinee audience comprising of local primary school children on Monday the 17th.
Congratulations must also be extended to the many teachers who where involved in the staging of this production, without whom such epic shows would not be possible, and of course to the producer of the show, Mr. Peter O'Driscoll.
Ghlac dhá fhoireann díospóireachta páirt sa dara babhta den chomórtas seo ar an Déardaoin 27 I gColáiste Naomh Doiminic, Cabhrach, Baile Átha Cliath-7.
Bhí Saoirse Ní Bhaoill, Laura-Ann Ní Cheallaigh agus Catherine Caulfield ar an bhfoireann sinsearach. Bhí said I bhfabhar an rúin ‘Tá deireadh le ré na sport amaitéarach'. Rinne said go hiontach agus tá siad go láidir ar a slí ar aghaidh chuig an céad babhta eile. Go n-éirí go geal libh a chailíní!
Bhí Fiona Ní Dhonncha, Nabeeha Moollan agus Julie Mic Dunphy ar an bhfoireann sóisearach. Bhí said I gcoinne an rúin ‘Tuilleann réaltaí RTE a gcuid airgid' Rinne said go han mhaith freisin ach ar an ndrochuair níor éirigh leo dul tríd an t-am seo. ‘Beidh lá eile ag an bPaorach ‘an bhliain seo chugainn!
Both the Junior and Senior Gael Linn Irish debating teams won their respective 1st Round debates. Their 2nd round debates took place on Thursday 27th November in St. Dominic's Cabra. Whilst the Senior team triumphed and advanced, alas the Junior team was sadly defeated.
Congratulations to both teams on their achievements this year, and ‘Good Luck' to the Senior team and their teachers Ms. Bernie Murray and Mr. Cillian Giblin.