25-3-2019

Research Project: Construction and validation of Chinese scale measuring statistics anxiety of university students

21-05-2018

Dr. FU Wai

This project is funded by the Faculty Development Scheme (FDS) 2017/2018 of the Research Grants Council (RGC). The amount awarded is HK$651,230; funding period is 24 months.

Principle Investigator: Dr. FU Wai, Associate Professor, Department of Counselling and Psychology

Statistics is a core course in the majority of undergraduate and postgraduate degree programmes (with the exception of those in the humanities), as well as a prerequisite for many courses involving research methods and data analysis. Therefore, students who lack a solid background in mathematics and statistics are likely to encounter significant obstacles. Students often feel apprehensive about statistics examinations. Many students who excel in other areas exhibit poor performance in statistics examinations, reducing their overall grade point average (GPA) and adversely affecting their learning progress and prospects. In this statistics anxiety study, Dr. FU Wai will focus not only on Chinese university students, but also postgraduate students; he will also add the special feature of belief in fate and luck in his self-generated statistics anxiety scale.

Dr. FU said the current main scale or questionnaire on statistics anxiety are as follows: the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale (Cruise & Wilkins, 1980), the Statistics Anxiety Scale (Pretorius & Norman, 1992) and the Statistics Anxiety Inventory (Zeidner, 1991). When being used in Chinese society, they have the following drawbacks. Firstly, these scales and questionnaires are designed for non-Chinese students. Secondly, they are designed without the participation of postgraduate students. Thirdly, they have a tendency to overemphasize general attitudes towards statistics without adequately considering the anxiety-related symptoms triggered by statistics. In addition, they tend to neglect respondents’ sense of personal control over events and belief in fate and luck (often collectively categorized under the psychological construct of illusion of control; Langer, 1978), which are common within Chinese populations.

Dr. FU has found an interesting phenomenon in his statistics class for postgraduate students – many smart students perform poor in statistics, some of them even have symptoms of anxiety disorder. Some students who passed this course in their undergraduate study but get nervous during test and examination. Dr. FU believed that some students regarded the pass of statistics requires good luck or fate. He hopes luck and fate can be included in his statistics anxiety scale.

According to Dr. FU, the study will aim to construct and validate a measure of statistics anxiety that is appropriate for use with Chinese students in universities. The first stage will involve generating item banks from the qualitative findings of interviews with statistics educators and university students. The second stage will involve item analysis and modification. In the third stage, criterion validity will be established for measures of statistics anxiety, illusion of control and various anxiety disorders. The fourth stage will involve confirmatory factor analysis to verify the structure of the scale.

“I do hope that the findings of this study will be immensely helpful for statistics educators, university students and counsellors seeking to resolve the problem of statistics anxiety. In addition, I do hope the scale generated from the study will have considerable potential for use in future research on statistics anxiety in local populations.” Dr. FU said.

Source: May Issue 2018

 

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