Undergraduate Psychology Students’ Efficacy and Attitudes Across Introductory and Advanced Statistics Courses


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Abstract

Statistics education is an important component of the undergraduate psychology major. However, undergraduates taking advanced statistics courses are understudied. Fostering statistical self-efficacy and positive attitudes about statistics is associated with course performance in psychology. We hypothesized that students enrolled in an advanced undergraduate statistics course would have higher self-efficacy for and more positive attitudes about statistical concepts and conducting analyses compared with students in the introductory statistics course. We assessed 49 introductory and 67 advanced statistics students attending a historically Black college for women at the beginning and end of the semester. Results suggest that self-efficacy increased across the semester for all students, with advanced statistics students having higher self-efficacy at the beginning of the semester than introductory students as measured by the 6-point Current Statistics Self-efficacy scale (mean difference = 0.96, CI [0.54–1.38], t = −4.52, p < .0001). Self-efficacy at the end of the semester was similar in both courses, with introductory students showing a greater gain. Attitudes toward statistics were moderately positive in both courses and did not change over the semester. Among advanced statistics students, but not introductory statistics students, higher self-efficacy to learn statistics was correlated with more favorable attitudes toward statistics at pretest (r = .56, p < .0001) and posttest (r = .68, p < .0001). Baseline attitudes toward statistics were positively correlated with self-efficacy scales at both time points. However, self-efficacy and attitudes were not significantly correlated with final course grade. Our results suggest that students hold rather positive attitudes toward statistics and can maintain confidence in their competency for statistical analysis, which may serve them well in future pursuits.

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