The research topic discussed concerns the existence of statistics anxiety among graduate students. One primary question is whether or not there is a prevalence of procrastination among such students. Research data reveals that approximately 80 percent of students experience higher than average anxiety levels. Further, research seeks to investigate the relationship between academic procrastination and six dimensions of statistics anxiety (Onwuegbuzie, 2004).
There are several methodologies for both gathering and analyzing data. One research methodology is the use of canonical correlation. Canonical correlation is useful as a tool to both identify and measure intercorrelated outcome variables (UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education, 2015). Another methodology used for identifying the six components of statistics anxiety (i.e. interpretation anxiety, computational self-concept) is factor analysis. Factor analysis is useful for the exploration of relevant patterns in the data. According to Norman Streiner, often the end result is either confirmation of a hypotheses, or minimization of variables (John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2006).
Major findings include discovering that approximately 40% -60% of graduate students struggle with procrastination. The three primary areas are related to writing term papers, examination study, and weekly reading assignments. One identified causative factor is the level of importance placed on completing assignments which leads to aversive behaviors (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The study is qualitative in nature, and identifies a perfectionistic behavior among graduate students. The perfectionist behavior is either due to self-orientation or social factors. The recommendation is that students have an awareness of the interconnection between procrastination, perfectionism, and achievement (Onwuegbuzie, 2004).
Purpose The stated research problem is multi-faceted and is positioned as a purpose statement (Coughlan, Cronin, & Ryan, 2007). Part A of the purpose statement seeks to address the prevalence of procrastination among graduate students. Part B aptly examines the relationship between academic procrastination and the six dimensions of statistics anxiety (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The research problem is clearly stated and offers a definitive scope of study. The researcher clearly provides the reader with an outline of intended study topic.
Literature Review The recommended steps following the study purpose include the literature review, theoretical framework, research question, methodology section, data analysis, and the findings (Coughlan, Cronin, & Ryan, 2007). The three primary sections in the article are method (which includes instruments and procedure), results, and discussion. The article which is qualitative in nature could actually be considered a mixed-method approach.
This is because it incorporates significant statistical data that is empirical in nature. Given the frequent reference to assorted literature, such as Solomon and Rothblum, Burka & Yuen, Rorer, and Migram et. al., this report appears to offer a balanced critical analysis (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The referenced literature appears to primarily cover the period from the 1970’s-1990’s. Therefore, it would not appear to be of recent origin. Furthermore, the journal article is from 2004 which is greater than a decade since origin.
Objectives/hypotheses The study is creative in the way it places compelling data about statistics anxiety at the beginning of the abstract and the introduction. It then purports that it is likely that statistics anxiety is associated with student procrastination in completing research courses (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). In other words, the hypothesis is implicit or suggested following the data about the large number of graduate students experiencing statistics anxiety. Overall it is consistent with the discussion in the literature review.
Ethical Standards Applied In the method section the study indicates that participation was both voluntary and anonymous. Prerequisites to participation included a written consent by all participants. The stated incentive was extra course credit, which could account for 100 percent participation rate (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). What could have improved the analysis of the applied ethical standards was a template that included the written consent form. The participants appeared to be protected from harm as it appears that no individualized data is revealed. Rather the focus is on data like (mean academic achievement, grade point average, and study gender). This conclusion is of course deductive as there are remaining questions such as the location of the data following the study.
Operational Definitions It does not appear that all terms, theories, and concepts are clearly identified although critical terms appear to be. For example statistics anxiety is understood as apprehension resulting from individual encounters with statistics (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). However, when referring to a methodology like factor analysis, the assumption is that the reader is already familiar with the term. It would have also been nice to see the key search terms identified at the beginning of the report.
Methodology The methodology section which identifies the research design as qualitative is very detailed and objective. For example some of the instruments used like the (non-parametric) Wilcoxon two-sample t-test were supported by findings from other studies. Additional instrument included the Statistical Anxiety Rating Scale (STARS) and the Procrastination Assessment Scale-Students (PASS). The inclusion of information such as who developed the instrument and its functionality creates a sense of the appropriate nature of the instruments. Examples of validity testing in the study include the statement, “the PASS scale mean was compared to the mean reported by the developers of the PASS (Onwuegbuzie, 2004).” There is no awareness of a pilot study that was conducted.
Data Analysis/Results In this study there were 135 graduate students that participated in the study. In comparison the norm groups in Solomon and Rothblum’s (1984) study was comprised of 342 university students. The present study has a mean procrastination score of 34.52 compared to 33.39 mean score of the Solomon and Rothblum study (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). However, what is unknown is the impact of variables such as participant age and number of participants. In the present study the age range was 21-51 with a mean age of 26. In contrast the Solomon and Rothblum study had a age range of 18-21 (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). This may have had a greater impact on the data outcome compared to the participant number, which is still noteworthy.
Discussion Strengths of the study include the detailed nature of participant attitudes toward reducing procrastination. The statistical data is categorized based on specific areas of procrastination such as (writing term papers-65.2 percent), (studying for examination-68.2 percent), and (reading assignments-71.7 percent) (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). The hypothesis was aptly identified and supported based on the inclusion of an assortment of empirical data. One potential study limitation was the lack of pilot studies. In the absence of such a study the researcher leveraged data from previous studies. One significant recommendation was for instructors to assist students in the strategies for reducing procrastination. Suggested disciplines include time management and study skills counseling (Onwuegbuzie, 2004).
References The books, journals, and other relevant references are appropriately and accurately referenced. The proper APA format is used as well as the end-text reference list which is listed alphabetically.
Conclusion In conclusion considering all the evaluation categories, the article is well researched. The end result should be ongoing and continuous studies. For example a future study may undertake a project to determine baseline results of anxiety, 6 month, and 12 month results following some of the recommendations. This way it can be determined whether the suggested recommendations effectively reduce student anxiety concerning the aforementioned areas. The study also indicated that procrastination amongst students can also be found in weekly readings. In fact more students in the graduate study report a propensity to procrastinate on weekly readings than undergraduate students (Onwuegbuzie, 2004). So school administrators, curriculum designers, and teachers should begin to request feedback from students regarding ways to make the weekly readings more exciting and engaging.
Coughlan, M., Cronin, P., & Ryan, F. (2007). Step-by-step guide to critiquing research. Part 1: quantitative research. British Journal of Nursing, 16(11), 658-663.
John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. (2006). Statistics in Psychosocial Research Lecture 8 Factor Analysis 1. Retrieved from http://ocw.jhsph.edu/courses/statisticspsychosocialresearch/pdfs/lecture8.pdf
Onwuegbuzie, A. J. (2004, February). Academic procrastination and statistics anxiety. Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 29(1), 3-19.
UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education. (2015). R Data Analysis Examples: Canonical Correlation Analysis. Retrieved from http://www.ats.ucla.edu/stat/r/dae/canonical.htm
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