Experiences and expectations: the real reason nobody likes stats

K. Ruggeri, Martin Dempster, Donncha Hanna, C. Cleary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Within undergraduate psychology courses, students often have significant levels of anxiety and negative attitudes toward the statistical element. This has been attributed to poor interaction with teachers, fears about mathematical abilities, and simply being unaware of that portion of the course or its relevance to psychology. To address this, 196 undergraduate psychology students completed a survey on statistics anxiety and attitudes. Additionally, 27 different students in similar situations took part in focus group to share their experiences of introductory statistics courses. Survey results showed that fewer than half were aware of the statistics portion of their course and that the expectation was a key factor in their experiences. Qualitative feedback from the focus groups revealed much about how the teaching may or may not improve attitudes nor decrease anxiety. Findings support various broad strategies (i.e. increase awareness of statistics in psychology and confidence in success in the course) as opposed to skill-specific (better ways of teaching probability or using games to increase participation, for example) classroom interventions to improve statistics education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75-83
Number of pages9
JournalPsychology Teaching Review
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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