Test candidates' attitudes and their relationship to demographic and experiential variables: the case of overseas trained teachers in NSW, Australia
One measure of the impact of a high-stakes test is the attitudes that test takers hold towards it. It has been suggested that positive attitudes produce beneficial effects while real or anticipated negative experiences can result in the development of attitudes that erode confidence and potentially impact negatively on performance. This study investigated test taker attitudes by exploring the opinions, beliefs, and feelings of a group of overseas trained teachers preparing for a professional gate-keeping test, and examining correlations between attitudes and demographic and experiential factors. The participants were 105 candidates who were enrolled in a preparation course for the Professional English Assessment for Teachers. They were asked to complete a written survey questionnaire with three parts: to determine the nature of their attitude towards the test, to explore the relationship of attitudes and demographic data, and to investigate their perceptions of the sources of their attitudes. Results indicated that there was a slight predominance of negative attitudes, particularly among candidates who had unsuccessfully attempted the test. The main reported sources which correlated with a negative attitude were personal experiences and feelings as well as the impact of other people: notably teachers and other candidates.