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Post-Graduate Quantitative Research Methodology: A Strategic Plan to Alleviate Student Anxiety

Navodya C. Selvaratnam, Nayagara Karunaratne, Lahiru Pothmulla, Naren D. Selvaratnam

Abstract

Quantitative Research Methodology (QRM) is a module oftentimes considered by students and scholars to be challenging and anxiety-provoking. There are numerous negative attitudes toward QRM from learners leading to lower interest and reduced engagement. In the present study, it was observed that students tend to persistently perform poorly in the QRM module in a psychology postgraduate program in Sri Lanka. To further shed light on the identified issue, the current action research was conducted among three student cohorts. Initially, each cohort’s performance was quantitatively analyzed and compared to observe trends in student achievements. Following this process, a sample of instructor feedback on a few failed students was randomly selected. A qualitative analysis of feedback revealed difficulty in research paper formulation and deficits in statistical knowledge as two major reasons for inferior learner performance. The researchers introduced a strategic plan to address the issue, which includes unique tutoring sessions. The suggested strategy would help to alleviate anxiety and improve student learning prior to the final examination. The tutoring sessions are developed utilizing Samejima’s Graded Response Model (GRM), which is a form of Item Response Theory (IRT) that succeeds in providing a psychometrically robust framework to assess student ability. Thus, the present research initiates a dialogue to encourage educators in Sri Lanka to use data-driven strategies to assess learning, assessments, and feedback in postgraduate psychology programs.

 

Keywords: Quantitative Research Methodology, Item-Response Theory, Graded Response Model, Statistics Anxiety

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