An Investigation of Factors Influencing Student Attainment of Statistical Competence

Garfield, J. B.
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This doctoral dissertation describes a study that attempted to isolate factors which influence attainment of statistical competence in an introductory college statistics course. The study defined a broad goal of an introductory course: to enable students to solve basic, applied statistical problems. A ten-stage model of the problem solving process was used to develop a framework for evaluating achievement of this goal. A problem-oriented statistics course was developed and taught to four classes that included two different experimental treatments. These treatments involved different types of supplementary statistics problems given to students for each instructional unit. Dependent variables included scores on unit tests and a final exam. Independent variables included scores on a pretest of basic mathematics skills and scores on the Mathematics Anxiety Rating Scale. Students also completed an end-of-course attitude questionnaire. Although the treatments did not appear to be related to significant differences in student learning, several relationships were observed between the variables measured and students reported a high level of satisfaction with the problem-oriented course.

The CAUSE Research Group is supported in part by a member initiative grant from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics and Data Science Education