Factors related to student performance in statistics courses in Lebanon

Hiba Salim Naccache

Abstract

The purpose of the present study was to identify factors that may contribute to business students in Lebanese universities having difficulty in introductory and advanced statistics courses. Two statistics courses are required for business majors at Lebanese universities. Students are not obliged to be enrolled in any math courses prior to taking statistics courses. Drawing on recent educational research, this dissertation attempted to identify the relationship between (1) students' scores on Lebanese university math admissions tests; (2) students' scores on a test of very basic mathematical concepts; (3) students' scores on the survey of attitude toward statistics (SATS); (4) course performance as measured by students' final scores in the course; and (5) their scores on the final exam. Data were collected from 561 students enrolled in multiple sections of two courses: 307 students in the introductory statistics course and 260 in the advanced statistics course in seven campuses across Lebanon over one semester. The multiple regressions results revealed four significant relationships at the introductory level: between students' scores on the math quiz with their (1) final exam scores; (2) their final averages; (3) the Cognitive subscale of the SATS with their final exam scores; and (4) their final averages. These four significant relationships were also found at the advanced level. In addition, two more significant relationships were found between students' final average and the two subscales of Effort (5) and Affect (6). No relationship was found between students' scores on the admission math tests and both their final exam scores and their final averages in both the introductory and advanced level courses. On the other hand, there was no relationship between students' scores on Lebanese admissions tests and their final achievement. Although these results were consistent across course formats and instructors, they may encourage Lebanese universities to assess the effectiveness of prerequisite math courses. Moreover, these findings may lead the Lebanese Ministry of Education to make changes to the admissions exams, course prerequisites, and course content. Finally, to enhance the attitude of students, new learning techniques, such as group work during class meetings can be helpful, and future research should aim to test the effectiveness of these pedagogical techniques on students' attitudes toward statistics.