The more I enjoy it the less I achieve: The negative impact of socio-emotional purposes of assessment and feedback on academic performance

S. Earl IRVING, Gavin Thomas Lumsden BROWN, Elizabeth R. PETERSON

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Assessment reforms have tried to increase performance through increased self- and peer-assessment which are mediated by students’ conceptions. How students understand the role and nature of assessment and feedback matters to academic performance. The degree to which students’ conceptions of assessment and feedback predicted their mathematics achievement was investigated in a study of 499 Year 10 New Zealand secondary school students. The students’ conceptions were measured using the Students’ Conceptions of Assessment –V (SCoA-V) Inventory (Brown, 2006) and the Conception of Feedback-II (CoF-II) Inventory (Irving, Peterson, & Brown 2006). A standardised achievement test (asTTle) was used to measure mathematicsperformance. Measurement models for the SCoA-V and the CoF-II were acceptable. The structural relations between the conceptions and achievement had acceptable fit. Five conceptions had statistically significant predictions to achievement, explaining 20% of variance in mathematics scores. The conceptions ‘I use Assessment to Improve’ (β=.21) and ‘Feedback Motivates Extrinsic Approach’ (β=.75) were positive predictors of mathematics achievement; whereas the conceptions ‘Feedback is Ignored’ (β=-.36), ‘Feedback has Socio-Emotional Effect’ (β=-.69), and ‘Assessment Predicts Extrinsic Avoidance Attributions’ (β=-.53) were negative predictors of mathematics achievement.. The most controversial finding was that the emotional nature of feedback (i.e., ‘Enjoying Feedback’, ‘Feedback Motivates Me’, and ‘I Trust Teacher Feedback’) and assessment (i.e., ‘I Enjoy Assessment’ and ‘My Class Benefits from Assessment’) negatively predicted mathematics achievement. This indicates that students who most believe that feedback is a motivator, that feedback is enjoyable, and who trust the feedback they get from a teacher are the ones whose achievement is lowest. It appears that secondary students deem socio-emotional purposes of feedback and assessment as both ignorable and negative towards performance. From the student point of view, the reform emphases appear to be wrong. Copyright © 2009 The Authors.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009


achievement test
New Zealand
secondary school


Irving, S. E., Brown, G. T. L., & Peterson, E. R. (2009, August). The more I enjoy it the less I achieve: The negative impact of socio-emotional purposes of assessment and feedback on academic performance. Paper presented at the 13th Biennial Conference: EARLI 2009: Fostering Communities of Learners, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


  • Assessment methods
  • Beliefs
  • Emotion