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Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science


statistics course, college students, teaching, statistical literacy, Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes (CAOS), Student Attitudes Towards Statistics – 36© (SATS©), Theories of Math Intelligence Scale – Self Form (TMIS), mindset training


The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of theories of intelligence and an intervention of incremental mindset training on students’ attitudes toward statistics and their mastery of content in an introductory statistics college course. The sample was 547 undergraduate students at a small, faith-based, liberal arts college in the Midwest.

A pretest-posttest design was used for the three instruments implemented. The Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes in a first Statistics course (CAOS) assessed students’ statistical literacy. The Student Attitudes Towards Statistics – 36© (SATS©) assessed six components of students’ attitudes toward statistics including affect, cognitive competence, difficulty, effort, interest, and value. The Theories of Math Intelligence Scale – Self Form (TMIS) assessed students’ mindsets toward mathematics. Students in the treatment group received four brief incremental mindset training sessions throughout the semester. The initial mindset categorization had no significant effect on the difference in mean SATS© or CAOS gain (p < .05); the power to detect a difference was limited due to a low response rate.

Students in the treatment group decreased at a rate greater than students in the control for the component of effort on the posttest SATS© assessment when the pretest was controlled for, F(1, 138) = 14.778, MSE = 10.954, p < .001. The remaining components produced no significant differences between groups (p < .05). Students in the control group also improved more on their mastery of statistics as assessed by the posttest CAOS when the pretest CAOS was controlled for, F(1, 297) = 6.796, MSE = .100, p = .010.

Analysis revealed that females gained more than males in the treatment group on the SATS© component of value, μDiff = 0.829, t(28)= 3.123, p = .004. The remaining components of the SATS© assessment did not produce statistically significant results (p < .05).

Recommendations for practice include creating classrooms that support growth mindsets and the design of mindset training. Recommendations for research include replication of the current research in statistics and other mathematics courses. A final recommendation calls for an examination of the differences by gender on the SATS© assessment.


  • A dissertation submitted to the graduate faculty of the University of South Dakota in partial fulfillment for the degree of DOCTOR OF EDUCATION
  • Dr. Kevin Reins, Committee Chairperson
  • © 2015 Valorie L. Zonnefeld

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.