DEVELOPING STATISTICAL UNDERSTANDING AND OVERCOMING ANXIETY VIA DROP-IN CONSULTATIONS
Keywords:Statistics education research, Statistics topics, Text mining, Drop-in consultations, Statistics anxiety
Students in many Australian universities start their studies mathematically underprepared as there are no prerequisites for mathematics, and assumed knowledge requirements are often overlooked. Many degrees include at least one statistics subject for which students require a reasonable level of mathematical ability to successfully complete. Students’ efforts to grasp quantitative skills often lead to feelings of anxiety, stress, and lack of self-confidence. The Mathematics Education Support Hub (MESH) at WSU provides free support in mathematics and statistics to all students, both undergraduate and postgraduate, to increase their engagement, understanding, and abilities in statistics as well as to overcome their anxiety. In this paper we focus on the drop-in consultation service, which provides “just in time” help in campus libraries. Data is collected for every consultation, which enabling an investigation in relation to the mathematics background of students and the problematic topics in statistics. Text mining is used to examine students’ queries to identify the topics in statistics subjects that students struggle most with. Outcomes of this analysis can be used by statistics instructors and mathematics support centres to improve students’ experience in learning and to help to reduce statistics anxiety in future generations of statistics students.
First published February 2020 at Statistics Education Research Journal Archives