The effects of attitude towards Statistics and Math knowledge on Statistical anxiety - A path model approach

Rosa Fabbricatore, Carla Galluccio, Cristina Davino, Daniela Pacella, Domenico Vistocco, Francesco Palumbo
(2019) Book od Short Papers Statistics for Health and Well-being, ISBN 978-88-5495-135-8

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Academic well-being is an important task to achieve at all educational stages. Specifically, the well-being of university students and their academic performances are negatively affected by stress and anxiety. The discomfort that some students feel in regard to Math or Statistics has a great impact on them. In literature this is referred to as statistical anxiety (SA). SA can be defined as “the feeling of anxiety encountered when attending a statistics course or doing statistical analyses”. In particular, since Statistics has been introduced in many university curriculum programs, including many humanities courses, such as psychology, political sciences or sociology, in recent years statistical anxiety has been widely studied. Students who attend non-mathematics programs consider Statistics as a burd and exhibit higher SA levels. They are made weary by anything related to mathematics and believe that Statistics is not important for their degree programs and careers. SA negatively affects students’ statistics examinations: higher levels of SA lead them to lower performance. Due to SA great impact on students’ academic well-being and performance, several studies have focused on this topic and classified SA antecedents into situational factors (e.g. math skills, previous statistical experience), dispositional factors (e.g. attitude toward statistics, self-concept and self-efficacy) and demographic factors (e.g. gender, age).

Data collected in the context of the ALEAS [Adaptive LEArning in Statistics](https://aleas- project.eu/wordpress/) ERASMUS+ project were used in this work to explore the antecedents of SA in undergraduate students enrolled in the psychology course at Federico II University of Naples. In addition to the variables discussed above, in this study we also considered as antecedents of SA the high school final mark and the past experience with Statistics.

In particular, we tested the following hypotheses:

Hypothesis 1. Gender, high school final mark, math comprehension and math background affect both the attitude towards Statistics and the levels of statistical anxiety;

Hypothesis 2. Past experience with Statistics and attitude towards Statistics predict statistical anxiety.