CEP 812 – Week 1

Summative Assessment and Anxiety Disorders

The topic of formative and summative assessments has become increasingly prevalent in educational institutions around the United States. As teacher evaluations, state education policies, and high-stakes testing continue to gain influence over the daily functions of the classroom, many challenges ariseJuilliard_Chamber_Orchestra for students, including those with disabilities. As a music educator, I am challenged to demonstrate student growth data on both performance and knowledge based standards. Recording student playing tests as both pre and post-test data are not difficult – there are numerous technologies and resources to accomplish this task. The problem is that there is no single solution to the complex process of collecting student performance data that is:

  1. easy for students

  2. captures high-quality audio and video

  3. usable and convenient for educators

  4. is affordable

This is what Koehler and Mishra (2008) would refer to as a “wicked problem”. There is no single correct answer. The solutions are simply “better”, “worse”, “good enough” or “not good enough”.

The “Wicked Problem” and Students with Generalized Anxiety Disorders

In the instrumental music classroom, the students that are affected most by the problems of performance based assessments are those with generalized anxiety disorders. Music  can be adapted, testing time can be extended, private instruction can be arranged, however the problem of performance anxiety remains. It is universal amongst students, but is particularly challenging for students who suffer from generalized anxiety disorders.

Conservative estimates place the number of students that are affected by  anxiety disorders around 10% or 1 in 10students. Students with anxiety disorders face an increased risk of depression, dependence on illicit drugs, and educational underachievement (McLoon, Hudson & Rapee, 2006). As such, It is important to create avenues to meet the needs of individuals suffering from anxiety conditions within our classroom.

VOCAROO – a “better” solution

There are many options out there for educators who wish to record audio/video. From Web2.0 to apps and software, each has pros and cons that can be discussed at length. For performance exams – I recommend Vocaroo, a web-based solution.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 3.34.21 PM
Vocaroo is a web-based tool that allows users to record and send audio.
What sets vocaroo apart from its counterparts is its easy-to-use interface,
the allowance for multiple attempts, and the variety of ways in which the audio files can be shared and downloaded.

For students with anxiety disorders, the ability to control their environment is a powerful tool. Almost all individuals experience anxiety when performing, whether in front of a crowd, a teacher, or even a microphone. This anxiety often leads to increased errors and inaccurate student data.

Vocaroo allows students to submit playing assessments from the comfort of home, while simultaneously providing students the opportunity to listen to their recording and re attempt if desired.  The options and benefits of the listening and re-recording function of vocaroo are endless! Students can record themselves, listen to the recording and self-assess their performance (formative assessment). Then, they can apply what they hear on their recording into fixes and solutions that increase their performance success.

The desire to reattempt assignments to ensure quality is a key trait of students with generalized anxiety disorders. At home, web-based resources offer this ability, allowing for students to lower their anxiety and submit their best work. This solution is also great for students with IEPS and 504 plans that require additional testing time and alternate testing locations. Allowing students to submit performance exams from alternate locations such as home are not a solution for all anxiety. Students with generalized anxiety disorders still need graduated exposure to experiences and challenges that may cause anxiety (Monacan & Rappaport, 2012). When possible, an in-person assessment or video recording provide additional information that can be used to assess students and inform instructional decisions. 

See the video below to see vocaroo in action!


  • Free
  • Simple interface
  • Web-based
  • Multiple-attempts
  • Sending and archiving audio is easy



  • No Video
  • Not available to record on Mobile Devices (Phones/Tablets)
  • Audio quality varies based on the computer microphone

What tools do you use in your classroom to collect student performance data? What solutions do you have for this “wicked problem”?



Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2008). Introducing TPCK. In AACTE Committee on Innovation and Technology (Ed.), Handbook of Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPCK) (pp. 3–29). New York: Routledge.

McLoone, J., Hudson, J., & Rapee, R. (2006). Treating anxiety disorders in the school setting. Education and Treatment of Children, 29(2), 219-242. Retrieved January 16, 2016, from http://www.jstor.org/stable/42899883

Minahan, J., & Rappaport, N. (2012). Anxiety in Students a Hidden Culprit in Behavior Issues. Phi Delta Kappan, 94(4), 34-39.



“Orchestra Student” https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/51/Juilliard_Chamber_Orchestra.jpg



One thought on “CEP 812 – Week 1

  1. Anxiety is something that I see far too often in the classroom, especially surrounding assessments. We place such a large emphasis on assessment, and assessing in the traditional standardized manner.

    I teach 4th grade, general education, so it was nice to see a perspective of a teacher who is also seeing this, but in a different context. I must say, the tool that you use, although with limitations that you described, it’s an innovative way to assess in the 21st century. My students have the option to take assessments at home online, so it’s neat that you’ve found a tool that will also allow your students, despite us teaching in different contexts.

    I do think it would be neat to find a tool that supports both audio and video. I don’t have an answer for treating the anxiety long term, but perhaps a student that is able to share a video of them playing, would move them in a direction to where that anxiety can slightly be grown out of. It’s a gradual process I’m sure.


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