Educational and cognitive models, as well as findings from a great deal of research in disciplines other than statistics education, indicate that students' attitudes are an important course outcome. In fact, attitudes are at least as important as knowledge and skills. Applied to statistics education, these models and findings suggest that students who leave their statistics courses with negative attitudes are unlikely ever to use what they have learned. Although many instructors believe that, on average, students enter their introductory courses with negative attitudes and leave with positive attitudes toward statistics, little research exists to support or to refute their assumption. The major goal of this project is to examine changes in U.S. students' attitudes across their introductory statistics courses. Attitudes were assessed at the beginning and at the end of their courses using the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics© (SATS©), a measure whose scores assess six components of attitudes. These components include Affect, Cognitive Competence, Value, Difficulty, Interest, and Effort. Preliminary findings from students who were enrolled in over 60 sections of general introductory statistics courses taught across the U.S. suggest that students' attitudes, on average, remained approximately the same or became more negative in all six components.
Keywords: Students' attitudes toward statistics; Survey of attitudes toward statistics; Statistics education
Biography: Dr. Schau has an unusual educational background that encompasses four disciplines: physics, mathematics, statistics, and psychology. She spent 30 years on the faculty of the Educational Psychology Departments at the University of New Mexico and at Indiana University. During her academic career, she primarily taught introductory and advanced applied statistics courses to graduate students from many different disciplines. Currently, as President of CS Consultants, she continues to pursue her research interest in statistics education using the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics, a measure she created to study students' motivations and attitudes toward statistics, as well as other assessments.