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Next Slide Please: Motivating our next generation of data analysts.

  • School: School of Social Sciences
  • Study mode(s): Full-time / Part-time
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


NTU's Fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme 2023

Project ID: S3 17

Data is ubiquitous in our lives. For example, governments, companies and schools provide a raft of numbers, charts and figures explaining how various initiatives are performing.  The ability to understand and present complex data is a highly valued skill if the populous are to be usefully informed about the initiatives being taken that influence their everyday lives.

The understanding of statistics is an important element within many degree courses. Students need to be able to master statistical methods in order to undertake good quality quantitative research. However, previous research has suggested that the statistics module within any degree programme causes the most problems through significant negative attitudes and lack of interest and motivation. A recent meta-analysis of undergraduate students undertaking introductory statistics modules revealed that positive affect (emotion) was an important predictor of performance in statistics suggesting that students who demonstrate positive attitudes to statistics are more likely to perform better in their courses.

One factor that might be impeding performance and enjoyment and engagement of statistics modules is statistics anxiety. Statistics anxiety is defined as anxiety that is experienced by a student when they encounter statistics in education and every-day life. It is thought to be distinct from mathematical anxiety, anxiety experience by individuals when they encounter mathematics in education and everyday life.

Despite there being considerable research helping our understanding of test anxiety, less is known about the specific case of statistics anxiety. For example, which students are most affected by statistics anxiety (demographically), does statistics anxiety change during a course, if so what causes these changes (e.g., changes in pedagogy, grades, student confidence), how do we organise pedagogy that optimises the chances of student engagement?

The route to the next successful cohort of data analysts relies on an understanding of the nature of our future statisticians and understanding their (changing) experiences as they progress through their training. The potential project offers plenty of scope to use a range of research methods e.g., interviewing students, educators, alumni, external stakeholders; carrying out longitudinal studies examining the change in motivation; building and using interventions at any organisation (including NTU) where statistics courses are taught. The project would suit candidates comfortable with a range of methodologies.

Supervisory Team:

Dr. Emma Vardy, Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Dr. Caroline Ford, Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Dr. Lucy Justice, Senior Lecturer, Psychology

Entry qualifications

For the eligibility criteria, visit our studentship application page.

How to apply

To make an application, please visit our studentship application page.

Fees and funding

This is part of NTU's 2023 fully-funded PhD Studentship Scheme.

Guidance and support

Application guidance can be found on our studentship application page.

Still need help?

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