How might the development of pedagogic strategies enhance sport science students' attainment of statistical literacy in higher education?

Hale, Beverley J. (2010) How might the development of pedagogic strategies enhance sport science students' attainment of statistical literacy in higher education? (Ed.D thesis), Kingston University,


The reluctance of Sports Science students to engage with Statistics[sup]1 has been widely documented in the higher education sector.. This research project employed a mixed methodology to explore the complex interaction between motivation, learning and student achievement to inform the development of statistical pedagogies through evidence based practice. Data for 336 students were collated from student records. Descriptive statistics explored the impact of gender, degree programme, previous Mathematics qualification and UCAS tariff points on marks in Statistics examinations. Inferential statistical tests (ANOVA, ANCOVA and t-tests) evaluated the mean differences within each factor and the interactions between them. Additionally, Statistics marks were compared to those of other compulsory modules. Regression models identified the comparative contribution of quantitative factors to Statistics and Dissertation marks. Unstructured and semi-structured interviews were conducted with twelve participants to understand the students' perspectives while they were studying a level five Statistics module. A synthesis of quantitative and qualitative findings revealed mathematical experiences to be the only factor to influence achievement in Statistics. Students perceived Statistics as a branch of Mathematics and expressed insufficient confidence to engage with statistical activities, which in turn led to poor examination results, particularly at level five. Interview responses revealed the examinations to be inadequate indicators of statistical literacy. Recommendations were made to develop statistical thinking in response to Sports Science problems. This approach would enable students to have space for necessary reflection and to appreciate better the vital role of Statistics in all areas of Sports Science. Assessment through project work was commended as beneficial, both as a vehicle for learning and to promote motivation for deeper engagement with Statistics. The ambiguous identity of Statistics was exposed as the cause of interview participants' anxiety about Statistics. Further research was advocated to establish the characteristics that set Statistics apart from Mathematics and to develop innovative approaches to assessment. Professional development to improve the Sports Science/Statistics interface and challenge the boundaries of modular degree structures was a critical recommendation for future development. [sup]1To enable the reader to distinguish between statistics as a subject discipline and statistics used to describe the analyses undertaken in the project, all subject disciplines are denoted in 'title' case.

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