gender; statistics anxiety, quantitative literacy, STARS
The importance of quantitative literacy for creating and maintaining a democratic and just society is unequivocal, but undergraduate students often do not acquire these important skills. One barrier to teaching quantitative literacy skills is students’ anxiety. The empirical evidence of the extent of the problem, however, does not seem to match anecdotal accounts of instructors who may be “diagnosing” statistics anxiety as universal among students and across different sources of anxiety. The purpose of this study is to identify the specific aspects of statistics anxiety that present barriers to student success by employing the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale (STARS) to analyze two-wave panel survey data from a sample of 113 undergraduates from eight sections of a Social Statistics course. This study also examines how gender shapes statistics anxiety/attitudes and whether changes over time in anxiety/attitudes are associated with academic performance. Results indicate that a majority of students report elevated levels of exam anxiety compared to the other types of anxiety/attitudes. Women report significantly more anxiety and more negative attitudes than men, but exam anxiety improves over the course of the semester significantly more so for women. Results also indicate that statistics anxiety/attitudes are largely unrelated to academic performance. Results are discussed in the context of their implications for directing attention to specific aspects of statistics anxiety on which to focus pedagogical efforts— to address statistics anxiety/attitudes if necessary, but also to avoid over-diagnosing by not assuming that it applies to all students or all aspects of statistics classes.
MacArthur, Kelly R.. "Avoiding Over-Diagnosis: Exploring the Role of Gender in Changes over Time in Statistics Anxiety and Attitudes." Numeracy 13, Iss. 1 (2020): Article 4. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5038/1936-4618.104.22.168
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