Anxiety around learning R in first year undergraduate students: mathematics vs biomedical sciences students

Ainsley Miller, Kate Pyper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


R is becoming the standard for teaching statistics due to its flexibility, and open-source nature, replacing software programs like Minitab and SPSS.

The main driver for reform within Scottish statistical undergraduate programs is the creation of the Scottish Qualification Authority’s Higher Applications of Mathematics course which has statistics as a core topic. The course saw R introduced into the Scottish high school curriculum for the first time from August 2021. This facilitates the need for R to be introduced into Higher Education courses at an earlier stage.

In academic year 2021/22 we introduced RStudio into our first year introductory statistics class. This class is taken by students studying Mathematics, and those studying Biomedical Sciences. Both cohorts were surveyed in order to assess their anxiety and enjoyment of learning how to use R, with a goal of assessing any differences between the groups.

We found that there was no association in software anxiety at the start of the class. However as the class progressed the Mathematics students reported lower levels of anxiety compared to the Biomedical Sciences students. The Mathematics students seemed to enjoy the class more than the Biomedical Sciences students, thus needing further investigation into enjoyment vs anxiety
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-53
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Statistics and Data Science Education
Issue number1
Early online date21 Apr 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2024


  • statistical programming language
  • undergraduate students
  • statistics software
  • computer anxiety


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