SA Journal of Industrial Psychology
On-line version ISSN 2071-0763
Print version ISSN 0258-5200
ORIENTATION: The attitude of students toward statistics may influence their enrolment, achievement and motivation in the subject of research and Industrial Psychology. RESEARCH PURPOSE: The aims of this study were to determine the reliability and validity of the survey of attitudes toward statistics (SATS-36) for a South African sample and to determine whether biographical variables influence students' attitudes. MOTIVATION FOR STUDY: Students could be better prepared for, and guided through, a course in statistics if more is known about their attitudes towards statistics. RESEARCH DESIGN, APPROACH AND METHOD: A cross-sectional survey design was used and the SATS36 was administered to a sample of convenience consisting of 235 students enrolled in Industrial and Organisational Psychology at a large tertiary institution in South Africa. MAIN FINDINGS: Results revealed that even though students perceive statistics to be technical, complicated and difficult to master, they are interested in the subject and believe statistics to be of value. The degree to which students perceived themselves to be competent in mathematics was related to the degree to which they felt confident in their own ability to master statistics. Males displayed slightly more positive feelings toward statistics than females. Older students perceived statistics to be less difficult than younger students and also displayed slightly more positive feelings concerning statistics. PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS: It seems that in preparing students for statistics, their perception regarding their mathematical competence could be managed as well. CONTRIBUTION: This study provides the first preliminary evidence for the reliability and validity of the SATS-36 for a sample of South African students.
Keywords : industrial psychology; research; statistics; statistical anxiety; students' attitudes; mathematics and learning statistics; cross-sectional design; SA higher (tertiary) education.