Fear of Statistics among TEFL Postgraduate Students

Seyed Mohammad Reza Amirian
Hakim Sabzevari University
Saeed Abbasi-Sosfadi
Hakim Sabzevari University
Keywords: Statistical Anxiety; TEFL; Examination Anxiety; Asking for Help Anxiety; Interpretation Anxiety.


Although statistics is an important compulsory course in a wide variety of disciplines, the vast majority of students including TEFL postgraduate students find it frightening and difficult to understand, and thus suffer from underachievement. As a result, a specific kind of anxiety called statistical anxiety emerges that requires immediate attention. To date, a large and growing body of research has focused on exploring different aspects and dimensions of statistics that produce fear and tension. However, the problem of fear of statistics amongst TEFL postgraduate students has received scant attention in the literature. In this study, attempts are made to assess and describe the areas of anxiety that TEFL postgraduate students experience during a statistics course. To this end, the present study employed a descriptive research design, i.e., survey research. First, a statistical anxiety questionnaire, which reflects three correlated dimensions of statistical anxiety including Examination Anxiety, Asking for Help Anxiety, and Interpretation Anxiety, was distributed among 72 TEFL postgraduate students. Then, interview sessions were held with 10 participants for the purpose of further exploration of the participants’ responses to the questionnaire items. Analysis revealed that examination anxiety has the highest frequency among other subscales, while the lowest frequency belongs to asking for help anxiety. These descriptive results together with the conceptualization of participants’ perspectives regarding their major concerns in statistics have clear implications for statistics teachers, course developers, policy makers, and TEFL postgraduate students.

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