On-line version ISSN 1668-7027
RODRIGUEZ FEIJOO, Nélida. Attitudes towards statistics of university students. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2011, vol.28, n.2, pp. 199-205. ISSN 1668-7027.
It is very usual to observe in many of the students of Psychology, Sociology, and Education some negative attitudes toward Statistics. In this sense we thought it would be interesting to analyze the problem. Obviously it would be of interest to change this negative attitude into a positive one, since the knowledge of Statistics is an important tool to analyze, systematize and interpret the facts of the real world. Besides psychologists as well as sociologists must be able to understand perfectly the data of quantitative research papers as well as the results obtained using statistical programs such as the SPSS. The objectives of this research were: (a) the description of opinions and attitudes towards Statistics from university students in non humanistic disciplines such as Engineering, Physic, Chemistry, etc. versus students in humanistic careers such as Psychology and Sociology, (b) to analyze the influence upon attitudes towards Statistics from variables such as didactics competences of Statistics and Mathematics professors, average marks obtained at secondary school, opinions about usefulness of Statistics for their future professional role and so on. A questionnaire on personal data and two attitude scales toward Statistics were constructed. One of them with items scaled following Osgood's Semantic Differential, with 14 bipolar adjectives. The other following the Thurnstone's Method of Equal-Appearing Intervals. An exploratory factorial analysis was carried on to determine the factors underlying intercorrelations between the scores of the subjects that evaluate (judge) the 50 items of the scale. The factorial method used was that of principal axes with varmus rotation process and also promax to obtain the simple structure. There were obtained 5 factors, which explained 75% of the variance. The final scale was reduced to 23 items. The factors depict dimensions such as likeness, trust, usefulness, anxiety and difficulty. The sample was not probabilistic but incidental with 229 university students; 64% women and 36% men. In the sample 68% were students from non mathematical disciplines and 32% from mathematical ones. To compare the two groups of students we used the mean non correlated differences test. As for the results when we analyzed the construct statistics the comparable profiles of means obtained in the 14 scale of bipolar adjectives (Osgood Scale) we found: (a) comparing students from non humanistic disciplines versus humanistic ones, the first group says Statistics are more ‘agreeable, plain, useful, clear, necessary, understanding, important, preferred, beautiful, profound, strong and pleasant'. Regarding the influence of some variables on attitudes towards Statistics we observe: (a) didactics ability of Statistics and Mathematics teachers, (b) average marks in secondary school Mathematics and (c) the opinion on the usefulness of Statistics in their future professional role.
Keywords : Attitude; Statistics; Non humanistic and humanistic disciplines.