In this phenomenological study, students’ perceptions of statistics anxiety were explored, as were the factors that they believe contribute to and reduce their statistics anxiety. The participants were undergraduates enrolled in an introductory statistics course at a Rocky Mountain region mid-sized university. Six students participated in this study. A modified version of the Mathematics Attitudes Scale was used to measure students’ statistics anxiety scores. Students with higher statistics anxiety scores on the surveys were interviewed. The interview data were analyzed using thematic analysis. The results revealed that undergraduates from a non-mathematics background, having high statistics anxiety, feel challenged while in statistics class, solving statistical problem, taking tests, or speaking in front of their peers. These challenges were found to be due to their inability to process statistical language, which gave rise to feelings of inadequacy, and manifested as physiological symptoms. All these factors led students to give up or second guess answers on tests. These students thus ended up performing poorly. Finally, these undergraduates noted that having open notes and formula sheets during tests alleviated their statistics anxiety. Teachers need to know their students’ challenges and address them so that students with aboveaverage statistics anxiety levels feel included and understood


Statistics Anxiety, Undergraduate Students, Phenomenology, Thematic Analysis, Qualitative Research, Statistics Education.

Author Bio(s)

Soofia Malik is a doctoral student in mathematics education at the University of Wyoming. She earned her M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics from Michigan Technological University. She is also writing the Action Research Project for her M.A. in Mathematics, Teaching Emphasis, from the University of Northern Colorado. She is an adjunct mathematics instructor at Aims Community College, CO and Laramie County Community College, WY. Her areas of interest are mathematics education and statistics education. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Soofia Malik at, Email: malik@mtu.edu


I would like to thank my research supervisors, Dr. Mark Smith (Mark.Smith@unco.edu) and Dr. Maria Lehman (Maria.Lehman@unco.edu), who motivated me and provided me with valuable feedback throughout the semesters in which this study was conducted. I would also like to thank writing consultants, Elijah Johnson (ejohns@uwyo.edu) and Alison Harkin (aharkin@uwyo.edu), for their suggestions and guidance. Last but not least, my doctoral committee chair Dr. Scott Chamberlin (scott@uwyo.edu) deserves credit for reviewing this manuscript before submission.

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