Evaluation of undergraduate nursing students' attitudes towards statistics courses, before and after a course in applied statistics.

Nurse education today

PubMedID: 23206330

Hagen B, Awosoga O, Kellett P, Dei SO. Evaluation of undergraduate nursing students' attitudes towards statistics courses, before and after a course in applied statistics. Nurse Educ Today. 2013;33(9):949-55.
BACKGROUND
Undergraduate nursing students must often take a course in statistics, yet there is scant research to inform teaching pedagogy.

OBJECTIVES
The objectives of this study were to assess nursing students' overall attitudes towards statistics courses - including (among other things) overall fear and anxiety, preferred learning and teaching styles, and the perceived utility and benefit of taking a statistics course - before and after taking a mandatory course in applied statistics.

DESIGN AND METHOD
The authors used a pre-experimental research design (a one-group pre-test/post-test research design), by administering a survey to nursing students at the beginning and end of the course.

SETTING
The study was conducted at a University in Western Canada that offers an undergraduate Bachelor of Nursing degree.

PARTICIPANTS
Participants included 104 nursing students, in the third year of a four-year nursing program, taking a course in statistics.

RESULTS
Although students only reported moderate anxiety towards statistics, student anxiety about statistics had dropped by approximately 40% by the end of the course. Students also reported a considerable and positive change in their attitudes towards learning in groups by the end of the course, a potential reflection of the team-based learning that was used. Students identified preferred learning and teaching approaches, including the use of real-life examples, visual teaching aids, clear explanations, timely feedback, and a well-paced course. Students also identified preferred instructor characteristics, such as patience, approachability, in-depth knowledge of statistics, and a sense of humor. Unfortunately, students only indicated moderate agreement with the idea that statistics would be useful and relevant to their careers, even by the end of the course.

CONCLUSIONS
Our findings validate anecdotal reports on statistics teaching pedagogy, although more research is clearly needed, particularly on how to increase students' perceptions of the benefit and utility of statistics courses for their nursing careers.