Topic: Statistical Anxiety
Background to the Study
Anxiety is one of the various emotions related to fear, feelings of tension and physical body changes like blood pressure. Individuals suffering from anxiety may avoid or delay their participation in situations due to worry and uncertainty of the activity’s outcome. Anxiety is in all aspects of our daily lives: be it sports, relationships, career choices and academics. It has been noted that with increase in strain on a student’s academic performance, level of anxiety towards certain academic tasks increases (Huberty, 2012). Like every other field, students display different levels of anxiety in various disciplines. Anxiety has been related to science related disciplines: law, medicine and mathematics among others. Studies has shown that mathematics students exhibit relatively high anxiety towards the subject due to dispositional, situational and environmental factors. A branch of mathematics; statistics, has turned up to be more challenging to students all thanks to anxiety. “statistics anxiety may be defined to be a form of performance anxiety evidenced by adverse worry, intrusive thoughts, mental and physical disorganization, tension, and psychological arousal” (p. 319). Zanakis & Valenzi
Statistical anxiety prevails since nowadays most colleges require a high percentage of their students to enroll in statistics and quantative research methodologies for their partial fulfillment of degree programs. However, over the years, studies have made a concern that there is an increment in levels of anxiety in students enrolled to these classes (Wilson, 2015).
Statistical anxiety is more prevalent in female students than in their male counterparts owing to various causative agents which the paper wishes to explore.
“In a study of 40 postgraduate students (17 males, 21 female) enrolled in statistics at University of Wollongong, Baharun & Porter (2009) found that males have significantly more confidence on their understanding of statistics topics (producing and interpreting scatterplots and correlations, writing meaningful paragraphs about variables, and less anxious about working with numbers) than females. Vahedi, Farrokhi & Bevrani (2011) in a study of 300 undergraduate students (133 male, 165 female) from Tabriz University in Iran using the Statistics Anxiety Measure (SAM) found that “…female students reported more negative attitude towards class than male students” (p. 96).
The study on female statistical anxiety is thus a worthwhile venture since they need all the available support and it’s the believe of every college that all students are academically equal in all disciplines. Physical activity has been portrayed as a stimulant to statistical anxiety decrease on all students both physically impaired or not.
To what extend does physical activity help reduce statistical anxiety in female undergraduates.
- To investigate physical activities involvement effects on female students’ aiming at statistical anxiety reduction.
- To investigate discrepancy existence between female and male college students with regard to statistical anxiety.
- To investigate statistical anxiety translation on academic performance in female students involved or not involved in physical activities.
Method and Analysis
The paper employed citation searching as the search strategy. This proved helpful in guiding the article search ensuring their relevance to the subject: citing relevant articles and thus adding on the existing knowledge on female statistical anxiety. The studies chosen in this paper are no older than five years, relevant and cited in no less than ten similar scholarly articles on physical activities cum female statistical anxiety related topics. The articles enlighten on the merits of female students’ involvement in physical activities and its effect on their cognitive abilities and reduction of anxiety towards statistics.
This paper hereby scrutinized the selected articles critically probing their similarities; support to each other versus their differences; discrepancy. The appraisal assessed the usefulness and validity of each study’s findings, conclusions and comments.
The articles chosen had to satisfy various criterion:((a) they had to contain three words: anxiety, statistics and female, (b) cited in other articles, (c) show tendency of relationship between anxiety and academic performance and (d) the articles had to be medical aligned and available in the Medline database.
The four main articles used in this paper are:
- Too afraid to learn?! attitudes towards statistics as a barrier to learning statistics and to acquiring quantitative skills bySlootmaeckers, K., Kerremans, B., & Adriaensen, J. (2014).
- Effects of academic anxiety on the performance of students with and without learning disabilities and how students can cope with anxiety at school (Cassie Dobobson, 2012).
- Examining the relationship between physical activity, psychological well-being, and stress in a college by Hannah Kruse Wike (2015).
- Gender differences in statistics anxiety with undergraduate college students Nina B. Eduljee, Pamela LeBourdais (2015).
The above strongly satisfied the fore mentioned necessary conditions for usefulness and also the paper assessed their validity if and only if the following questions were addressed; Did the writer give the conceptual meaning of the title? Did the writer(s) outline the domains of female statistical anxiety they measured? Did the researchers give the criteria as to their choice of variables they measured? Were the students questioned on their own attitude towards statistics? Were the students invited to add their own methods, if any that they apply to reduce statistical anxiety? Were the researches biased on a given line of thought?
Since the above article proceeded to satisfy these sufficient conditions, the paper chose to use them as their bases of reference.
Key Aspects Summary
The studies were conducted on college students in different parts of the globe. This is tangible evidence that statistical anxiety is not limited by geographical, racial, religious or other social factors though the levels may vary across these lines. Studies were conducting using statistical data tools including and not limited to questionnaires, statistical packages and data analysis tools directly in contact with the studies subjects. This process placed the subjects into the field under study (statistics) which worked in instilling the subjects under the required environment jurisdiction. This is so since statistical anxiety seamlessly merges with the fear of all objects (abstract or tangible) associated with statistics. All studies had a significant number of subjects (<30) with the least having 156 respondents. Nevertheless, one study incorporated a large population (3,336 students) and can thus be termed to harbor highly unbiased outcomes. The studies’ results exhibit positive correlation between physical fitness and perceived cognitive competency. Female students recorded higher anxiety levels which materialized in form of cognitive competency negativity and ability based performance, both in classwork and physical activities.
Though there are studies suggesting otherwise, the articles appraised did not defect from the declaration that statistics is among the high anxiety inducing programs of study (Blalock,1987; Horowitz, &Wisenbaker, 1978; Lundgreen & Fawcett, 1980; Zeidner, 1991).
However, some researches show contradicting deductions to the assentation. Some recent studies have found no significant gender differences in statistics anxiety (Lacasse & Chiocchio, 2005; Onwuegbuzie, 2004; Zhang et al., 2012).
“In a study of 77 graduate students (19% male, 81% female) in Taiwan, Hsiao & Chiang (2011) found no difference between male and females with statistics anxiety on the Statistical Anxiety Rating Scale.”
The studies appraised hereby lack adequate incident research focus on physical activity impact on reduction of female statistical anxiety. The appraised articles however are consistent with this paper’s research question and offers appropriate course of action to manage female statistical anxiety. Despite the coverage on statistical anxiety by articles, they redundantly suffer stressors and anxiety precursor definition deficiency. In addition to the proposed female statistical anxiety management courses, there are studies that eye instructor immediacy (behaviors implicating instructor’s physical and/or psychological nearness) as a means to reduce the same in college students (Williams, 2010). Cutting across many, if not all of studies available, is the negative effect of anxiety (statistical anxiety inclusive) on student’s performance citing it as a precursor to low self-efficacy (for statistics related activities). Nevertheless, Williams notes that the students’ openness to instructor’s immediacy is a contributing factor towards anxiety reduction (2010). Onwuegbuzie, Anthony and Vicki reported the addressing of statistical anxiety, group-works (with members perceived to produce high quality work) and open book tests to be some of the highly ranked statistical anxiety-relieving factors (2000).
Summary and Conclusion
Several recent studies, some of the hereby appraised included, has climaxed with a call for further research into physical activities as a coping mechanism to anxiety and stress. This step has been noted as one towards uncovering more benefits of physical activities to learners that would bid their indulging. Though low levels of anxiety (in this case, statistical anxiety) may be beneficial to some students, the opposite adversely affects academic achievement (Wike, 2015). In her study, Wike analyzed physical activities effect to stress and anxiety reduction on a sample majorly comprised of female which led to positive effect conclusion (2015). She further noted that Positive affect, interest and enjoyment during and after physical activities are precursors to female students’ involvement. Higher self-esteem and lower stress and anxiety levels were observed in students who incorporated leisure physical activities (Wike, 2015). Though much research has been done, little is known about the construct of statistical anxiety. In their research, Onwuegbuzie, Anthony and Vicki quoted its high prevalence in learners especially females (2000). Classroom physical activities utilized for demonstration purposes proved helpful in reducing students’ statistics anxiety (Nina and Pamela, 2015). Dobson appraised the need for students to uphold mindfulness; a mental log of all mental and physical activities which keeps study anxiety at check (2012). The studies conform to the benefits of physical activities in reducing statistical anxiety. All three of this papers objectives were realized during the studies’ appraisal.
Though the studies delved on anxiety, statistical anxiety, gender and physical activity involvement and its translation to academic achievement, there fails to be one which incidences a large population measuring female students’; both indulged in physical activities or not and the effect on their statistical anxiety. Future studies should delve on statistical anxiety in females who indulge in physical leisure activities and those who don’t.
Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J.; Wilson, Vicki A. (2000) Statistics Anxiety: Nature, Etiology, Antecedents, Effects, and Treatments: A Comprehensive Review of the Literature.
Slootmaeckers Koone, (2014). Too afraid to learn?! Attitudes towards statistics as A barrier to learning statistics and to acquiring Quantitative skills; University of Leuven (Belgium).
Wike Hannah K. (2015). Examining the relationship between physical activity, Psychological well-being, and stress in a college population; University of Tennessee.
Williams Amanda S., (2010). Statistics Anxiety and Instructor Immediacy; Journal of Statistics Education 18(2).
Nina Eduljee and Pamela LeBourdais, (2015). Gender Differences in Statistics Anxiety with Undergraduate College Students; The International Journal of Indian Psychology 2 (3).
Dobson Cassie, (2012). Effects of academic anxiety on the performance of students with and without learning disabilities and how students can cope with anxiety at school; Northern michigan university.