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From Anxiety to Confidence: Exploring the Measurement of Statistics Confidence and its Relationship with Experience, Knowledge and Competence within Psychology Undergraduate Students

Paltoglou, AE and Morys-Carter, WL and Davies, EL (2019) From Anxiety to Confidence: Exploring the Measurement of Statistics Confidence and its Relationship with Experience, Knowledge and Competence within Psychology Undergraduate Students. Psychology Learning and Teaching. ISSN 1475-7257

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Abstract

© The Author(s) 2018. Psychology students often feel anxious about learning statistics, which can impact their performance. However, little research has explored statistics confidence, which may be an important way to reduce the negative connotations of associating statistics with anxiety. We aimed to explore whether modifying an existing measure of statistics anxiety (the STARS scale) and reframing the questions so students rated their confidence instead, would be associated with competence, prior knowledge and experience. A total of 104 undergraduate students completed an online questionnaire comprising these measures. The factor structure of the STARS scale was predominantly maintained when wording was changed to measure confidence instead of anxiety. Confidence was related to experience and competence, but not knowledge. Two aspects of confidence (interpretation of statistics and exam confidence) plus initial experiences were significant predictors of competence. Confidence was a mediator of the relationship between experience and competence. These findings suggest statistics confidence can be measured in a similar way to anxiety, and highlight areas that could be addressed to increase competence. Future research is needed to explore the relationship between statistics anxiety and statistics confidence, as well as to determine their individual impact on performance in assessments.

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