Factors Related to Anxiety In Statistics

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Educational Studies and Research

First Advisor

Arthur Southerland

Advisor Department

Educational Studies and Research


Anxiety about statistics can result in impaired performance, mental anguish, and avoidance of statistics courses needed for professional advancement. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship of the anxiety felt by students in graduate statistics courses to their characteristics and to the teaching strategies used by their instructors to reduce anxiety in the statistics classroom. Participants in the study were 178 students in graduate statistics courses in the College of Business Administration and the College of Education and Psychology at the University of Southern Mississippi during the 1995-96 academic year. Multiple regression analysis revealed that 37% of the variability in the anxiety score on the Revised Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale could be explained by the following variables: mathematics preparation, number of years since last mathematics course, perception of mathematical ability, proficiency in calculator use, computer anxiety, expected grade, department in which the course is taken, level of the course, major, age, gender, and teaching strategies for reducing anxiety in the statistics classroom. Independently, mathematics preparation, perception of mathematics ability, proficiency in calculator use, and gender were statistically significant predictors of statistics anxiety. Although there was not a significant independent relationship between statistics anxiety and student perceptions of their instructors' use of anxiety-reducing strategies, as measured by the Alleviating Statistics Anxiety Assessment, students did report that their instructors used a great variety of strategies in an attempt to reduce anxiety. Among these are classroom policies and procedures, including allowing assignments to be redone and encouraging questions from the students; personal factors, including patience and concern for understanding; use of humor; test preparation; acknowledgment of anxiety; and cooperative learning.