Anxiety Essay Example

Statistics can be challenging for many college students and in this article, it investigates the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty, worry, and statistics anxiety. The purpose of this study was to investigate and provide a comprehensive summary of the literature of the relationship between college students and the components of statistical anxiety. It was predicted that students receiving immediacy would report lower levels of statistics anxiety. Using a pretest-posttest-control group design, immediacy was measured using the Instructor Immediacy scale. Statistics anxiety was measured using the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale (STARS) and we see  intolerance of uncertainty was significantly related to worry, and worry was significantly related to the types of statistics anxiety.

Review of the Components of Statistic Anxiety

Amanda S. Williams of Texas Tech University clearly stated, explored, and conducted a quantitative research and data analysis on the relationship between intolerance of uncertainty, worry, and statistics anxiety. Her research gives an interesting aspect on issues that are centered on the students’ behavior, such as statistics anxiety, and student concerns in online learning, and how these translate into more effective learning in the classroom. In this article, most students identify statistics courses as the most anxiety-inducing courses in their curriculum and it also references a number of case studies that are very informative. 

Onwuegbuzie, (1997) defines statistical anxiety as ‘an anxiety which comes when students find statistics in any form and at any level’. There are many components of anxiety and the research information in this article show that many students feel impaired by feelings of state anxiety and fear in the examination and therefore probably show lower achievements. During this study, it lets us see the statistical analysis of anxiety in college students. Most college’ students are required to enroll in statistics and quantitative research methodology courses as a necessary part of their degree program. Statistics as a discipline is the science of using informational data to learn, and it focuses essentially on controlling and measuring. Unfortunately, many students report high levels of statistics anxiety while enrolled in these classes. 

The Intolerance of uncertainty or the increase in dispositional characteristics that affect someone’s response to situations with uncertain outcomes, and it is a very important component of the process of anxiety. Increased intolerance of uncertainty is stressful, and it can lead to panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).  Intolerance of uncertainty was significantly related to worry, and worry was significantly related to the three types of statistics anxiety. Worries means a chain of thoughts and images, negatively affect-laden and relatively uncontrollable in the article and later.  The article also gives an example of a study by Ladouceur, Blais, Freeston, and Douglas, (1998) on problem solving and problem orientation in generalized anxiety disorder.  As research continued, the article found that anxiety, worry, and intolerance of uncertainty are inseparable components. The states if intolerance of uncertainty leads to worry, and worry is the main characteristic of statistics anxiety (Koerner & Douglas, 2006), then it is reasonable to expect this relationship to exist in terms of statistics anxiety.

Instruments and Procedures 

Most of the quantitative studies was conducted in the USA on both undergraduates and graduates in the social sciences (mainly psychology and education majors). Additionally, most of the studies have an overwhelmingly high percentage of females (up to 100%) in their samples. Finally, the Statistical Anxiety Rating Scale, commonly named the STARS (Cruise et al., 1985), was used in 39 (78.0%) quantitative studies, making it the most popular measure of statistics anxiety in this sample of studies. 

Statistics anxiety was measured using the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale (STARS). This rating scale is commonly used and it is reliable in validating the six-factor structure of the scale, worth of statistics, interpretation anxiety, test and class anxiety, computational self-concept, fear of asking for help, and fear of statistics teachers. Cruise, Cash, and Bolton (1985) were the first to provide and research data between statistics anxiety and mathematics anxiety.  The authors argued that existing measures of mathematics anxiety did not adequately assess all aspects of statistics anxiety, and they developed the Statistical Anxiety Rating Scale (STARS) to address this need.  

Research shows that college students experience some form of statistics anxiety and it is found to add to students’ academic procrastination. This anxiety often puts obstacles in their path to graduation.  It also shows a consistent negative relationship has been found between statistics anxiety, statistics achievement, and timed conditions in a variety of studies (Onwuegbuzie & Seaman, 1995).  In other words, students who experience higher levels of 

statistics anxiety tends to have lower performance on a statistics examination under timed conditions than students who were tested under untimed conditions. In this study according to Onwuegbuzie, DaRos, and Ryan (1997), statistics anxiety is the apprehension which occurs when individuals encounter statistics in any form and at any level. The article also states that students taking an online statistics course had higher levels of statistics anxiety than their counterparts taking a statistics course on campus (DeVaney, 2010). The research gives you a balanced critical analysis of supporting literature and it shines light on many issues surrounding the components of anxiety.

There are a number of papers in which references the different factors that are associated with the measurement of statistical anxiety and test results, or exam score, and then there are a number which find no significant association.  In table 1 give a sample demographic (n-97) characteristic profile that was developed to gather information about individual students from Southwestern University involved in this study. Items were chosen to obtain a demographic characteristic profile of the participants as a means of describing the sample.

In this group, there were 64 females (66%) and 33 males (34%) of whom most were female and white (64.9%). Participants’ were not specifically asked to indicate their majors, but their enrollment record indicated fields such as psychology, higher education, and counseling. The age data also show a mean of 31.47 years (SD = 8.78). The instruments used to conduct these procedures were the Intolerance of Uncertainty Scale-12 (IUS-12), the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ) and the Statistics Anxiety Rating Scale (STARS) Table 2 gives the pretest and the posttest results for the means and standard deviation for the research variables such as intolerance of uncertainty, worry, test and class anxiety, fear of asking for help, and fear of statistics teacher. 

The article also introduced us to a test that measured 51 items on a five-point scale and this is a typical item on a Likert scale is a statement to which respondents rate their level of agreement. Usually a five-point scale of agreement like the following is used: 1. Strongly disagree, 2. Disagree, 3. Neither agree nor disagree, 4. Agree, and 5. Strongly agree. Likert scale is always in ordinal form and it is a method of ascribing quantitative value of qualitative data, to make it amenable to statistical analysis. A numerical value is assigned to each potential choice and a mean figure for all the responses is computed at the end of the evaluation or survey. This test was done to obtain and give an understanding of the baseline of statistics anxiety levels before any instruction was given to the students.


There is still work that needs to be undertaken to establish whether the relationship with college statistical anxiety and its components the effect it is often stated as having. The article is able to give the reader the understanding and breakdown of what is anxiety and how it can affect a college student and they prepare for a statistics course whether it is in the classroom or online. The article analysis shows that even the most fundamental questions, such the nature of the relationship between college students and anxiety in some areas are still unresolved. Although the article was done almost 10 years, ago it can add relative information to the newer studies on anxiety. The article gives the mandatory nature of statistics courses, it is not surprising that college students regard them as the most anxiety-inducing course in their degree programs.