Report on secondary school students’ performance in Mathematics and on the statistical methods to measure anxiety

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This report is a part of the intellectual outputs of the Erasmus+ Project “Adaptive LEArning in Statistics” (ALEAS).

ALEAS must be intended as an innovative and complementary tool with respect to the traditional courses in Statistics, and it offers personalised learning paths to students, with the purpose to provide them remedial advice to deal with the “statistics anxiety”. Targets groups of ALEAS are undergraduate university students attending first courses in statistics in several degree programs from Psychology to Political Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, Primary Education.

According to the literature, we assumed that three main reasons contribute to human sciences courses students’ low performance in statistics: (i) lack of background knowledge; (ii) psychological traits of anxiety towards statistics; (iii) lack of motivation for the study of statistics.

Thus, the work collects information about these three main issues. Firstly, a review of the secondary school students’ performance in mathematics in the country involved (Italy, Spain, Greece, Germany) has been conducted. The a priori weaknesses of students were reported according to their sex, type of diploma, geographical macro-area, proficiency levels, content and cognitive domains. A second review regarding statistics anxiety definition and measurement provides a wide description of the statistical anxiety facets and antecedents and the most used psychometric tools in the European context. Finally, results on the user need analysis made through semi-structured interviews and addressed to both teachers and students shed light on the needs of the target groups. The ALEAS system aims to be adaptive according to the characteristics of the students who will use it, and accounting for students’ needs improves their motivation.