This investigation tested the hypothesis of humor effects on test anxiety to improve test performance. A pretest-posttest control group design was employed to determine differences between humorous and serious versions of the same test content. One graduate biostatistics course of 98 students participated. Based on three independent test administrations, ANCOVAs were computed to isolate the effects of humorous directions only, humorous items only, and the combination of both on emotional/physiological and worry/cognitive anxiety symptoms and biostatistics achievement. Humorous directions had a statistically significant (p < .05) impact on constructed-response item performance for the first test (descriptive statistics), with an effect size of .43. Multiple-choice test performance correlated negatively with the two pre-anxiety subscales (r = −.46, p < .001), explaining up to 21% of the variance. The limitations of very low pre-anxiety levels and very high test performance precluded any other significant effects. The contributions of the humor technique used in the study and the value of measuring situation-specific anxiety immediately before and after a real testing condition were discussed.
Peer observation of classroom and clinical teaching has received increased attention over the past decade in schools of nursing to augment student ratings of teaching effectiveness. One essential ingredient is the scale used to evaluate performance. A five-step systematic procedure for adapting, writing, and building any peer observation scale is described. The differences between the development of a classroom observation scale and an appraisal scale to observe clinical instructors are examined. Psychometric issues peculiar to observation scales are discussed in terms of content validity, eight types of response bias, and interobserver reliability. The applications of the scales in one school of nursing as part of the triangulation of methods with student ratings and the teaching portfolio are illustrated. Copies of the scales are also provided.