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Evaluating Statistics anxiety across different qualifications

This project addresses findings that were suggested from the evaluation of the project “How one module can serve multiple qualification through tailored implementation of presentation” In particular evaluation of qualitative feedback and tutorial attendance and viewing figures suggest that the students who are non-maths and stats students feel more comfortable in a group with their qualification peers.

Presentations of the work at the Horizons in STEM conference in September 2021 led to conversations with other researchers around statistics anxiety and the suggestion that our qualification-based support might be reducing this effect.

It should be noted that Statistics anxiety, is different – albeit related to – mathematics anxiety and the existing measures of mathematics anxiety do not adequately assess all aspects of statistics anxiety, therefore a Statistics Anxiety Rating Scales (STARS) was developed to address this need (Cruise, Cash and Bolton, 1985). However there has been evidence to suggest that the two statistics anxiety scales (STARS and SAMS) may not be sufficiently broad to cover all aspects of statistical anxiety. Therefore the first part of this project will focus on adapting these scales. This work will be done prior to 22J start and trialled over the summer with a small group of students.

The aim is to adapt the scales in order to produce a new measure that can identify whether students on differing qualifications who study statistics as part of their degree exhibit different forms of statistics anxiety. As M248 has a broad range of qualification students will be use this adapted measure with 22J students, alongside broader qualitative feedback to drill down into the types of anxiety students exhibit when studying M249 and how this differs between students on the different qualification.

We will then use this knowledge to create some workshops which will run in the summer months prior to 23J with the aim of alleviating the anxiety which students might be feeling as they approach the module start date. We expect to run different workshops tailored to dealing with the different types of statistical anxiety that students are exhibiting. We will then use the measure again during 23J to assess the use and/or development of workshopped coping strategies by students and whether these were effective in reducing the statistical anxiety reported.

Whilst this project will initially focus on M248, Analysing Data, the aim will be to have a statistical anxiety rating scale which can be used on any OU statistics module, or module including a statistical component, to identify the type of statistical anxiety exhibiting by groups of students and therefore identify where suitable interventions and extra support may be of value.


Cruise, R. J., Cash, R. W., & Bolton, D. L., (1985, August). Development and validation of an instrument to measure statistical anxiety. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Statistical Education Section, Chicago, IL.