Gender, Statistical Anxiety, and Supplemental Instruction

Rick Szal


Supplemental Instruction (SI) programs, which have been used in colleges and universities since the 1970’s, are viewed as a cost-effective method of delivering peer-assisted instruction to students in courses that traditionally experience high failure and drop rates. In a previous analysis of students in an introductory business statistics class at a mid-sized university in the Southwest, it was found that SI was very important in a student’s grade determination, especially in view of the fact that the course is designed as blended learning meeting one time per week.  The analysis also seemed to indicate that there may well be significant differences as between men and women in terms of the effect of SI attendance on grade determination.  The present paper investigates the differences between males and females in the course, and concludes that, while both men and women suffer from a fear of statistics (and mathematical courses in general) upon entering the course, their reactions to the anxiety are very different. While men appear to be better prepared than women when beginning the course, at the end of the semester, there is no significant difference in final grades.  Several possible reasons for this are given, and the results may hold important lessons for encouraging greater participation of females in STEM activities from an early age.


Gender, Statistical Anxiety, Supplemental Instruction

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