The effects of attitude toward Statistics and Math knowledge on Statistical anxiety: A path model approach

25 September 2019
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ASA Conference 2019 - Statistics for Health and Well-being
Conference of the Applied Statistics Association.

Academic well-being and performance are important tasks to achieve in all school grades, and are negatively affected by stress and anxiety. Actually, students feel discomfort with regard to specific subjects, like Math and Statistics. For this reason, mathematical and statistical anxiety have been widely studied (among the others, see Primi, Donati & Chiesi, 2016). Statistics is a mandatory course in the curriculum in most of humanities programs. Many authors showed that these students consider Statistics as a burden and exhibit higher levels of statistical anxiety. Statistical anxiety can be defined as “the feeling of anxiety encountered when attending a Statistics course or doing statistical analyses” (Cruise, Cash & Bolton, 1985, p.92). These students are made weary by anything related to Mathematics and believe that Statistics is not important for their degree programs and careers (Primi, Donati & Chiesi, 2016). Moreover, Statistics is viewed as an unpleasant and difficult subject, making students feel uncomfortable and leading them to believe that they are not able to achieve the task that is being requested from them. Several studies on this topic classified the statistical anxiety antecedents. They are typically divided in 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). The most common and widely used psychometrics tools to assess statistical anxiety are STARS (Cruise, Cash & Bolton, 1985) and SAS (Vigil-Colet, Lorenzo-Seva & Condon, 2008).

In this work we present a preliminary analysis based on data collected within the ALEAS (Adaptive LEArning in Statistics) ERASMUS+ project ( about statistical anxiety in undergraduate students enrolled in the Psychology course at Federico II University of Naples.

Path analysis (Duncan, 1966) was carried out to study the interplay between statistical anxiety and a set of considered variables. Our results show that math background affects the attitude towards Statistics and the statistical anxiety. Moreover, statistical anxiety also depends on other variables such as math comprehension, gender, high school final mark, and past experience in Statistics.

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