Quality & Quantity (2006) 40:661–674
© Springer 2006
Factors Related to the Academic Performance of
Students in the Statistics Course in Psychology
JOAN GUARDIA∗ , MONTSERRAT FREIXA, MARIBEL PERO,
JAUME TURBANY, ANTONIO COSCULLUELA, MAITE BARRIOS
and XAVIER RIFA
Dept. de Metodologia de les Ci` ncies del Comportament, Facultat de Psicologia, Divisi´ de e
Ci` ncies de la Salut (IV), Universitat de Barcelona, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171, 08035 e
Abstract. Many studies have examined the factors that inﬂuence academic performance in primary and secondary education as well as at university, with the purpose of enhancing learning at these stages and reducing drop-out rates. It is within this research framework that we want to emphasise the deﬁcient performance of students enrolled on the statistics course in the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Barcelona. Consequently, this paper attempts to determine the factors that affect student performance in this subject by undertaking an analysis of a structural equation model and determining its stability over time. In order to accomplish our objective, we worked with two samples of students enrolled statistics classes. The ﬁrst group comprised 211 students enrolled in the academic year 2000– 2001, while the second comprised 287 students enrolled in the academic year 2001–2002. By administering a questionnaire, we obtained information concerning such variables as demographic data, previous academic record, information related to the subject and the degree of satisfaction with it, and the ﬁnal mark obtained by the students in the subject. The parameters for each group of students were estimated separately and the goodness of ﬁt of the proposed structural model was assessed. The data analysis showed a good ﬁt with both data bases, but the set of estimated parameters differed in the two academic years under consideration.
Key words: academic performance, statistics, structural models
Author for correspondence: Joan Gu` rdia, Dept. de Metodologia de les Ci` ncies del a
Comportament, Facultat de Psicologia, Divisio de Ci` ncies de la Salut (IV), Universitat e
de Barcelona, Passeig de la Vall d’Hebron, 171, 08035 Barcelona, Spain, E-mail: jguardia @ub.edu
JOAN GUARDIA ET AL.
The difﬁculties encountered by psychology undergraduates in learning the contents of the subject of statistics are well known in psychology faculties, and among the lecturers of this subject, throughout Spain. We believe these difﬁculties are caused by two main factors: ﬁrst, the great differences encountered in the academic backgrounds of the new undergraduates on being admitted to the university, especially in recent years following the introduction of the educational reform act known as the Ley de Ordenaci´ n o
General del Sistema Educativo (LOGSE) and, second, and directly linked to this ﬁrst factor, the fact that ﬁrst-year undergraduates do not expect to ﬁnd a subject based on mathematics on the psychology curriculum. Indeed, given these circumstances, it might be the case that not all the ﬁrst-year students in the Faculties of Psychology possess the academic pre-requisites to cope successfully with the demands of the subject of statistics, which in the case of the Psychology faculty of the University of Barcelona is entitled An` lisi de Dades en Psicologia (Data Analysis in Psychology). a
Various attempts have been made to improve the performance of the students enrolled on this subject. Since the academic year 1999–2000, the faculty has introduced an optional subject to raise the level of those whose mathematics skills are insufﬁcient, known as Fonaments Matem` tics (Basic a
Mathematics), speciﬁcally designed for those students with little training in mathematics in their pre-university courses in which the presence of mathematics is negligible (Arts and...
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