STUDENT ATTITUDES TOWARD STATISTICS IN TOURISM STUDIES
Attitudes are crucial for learning because they lead the cognitive process. For that reason attitudes towards different subjects of study have been extensively researched, concluding that often negative attitudes can become an obstacle for effective learning (Fullerton and Umphrey, 2001). In the case of students' perception of Statistics, there is a common belief that their attitude toward this field is negative (Wilensky, 1997), although a review of the literature shows different results that cast doubt on this belief.
The interest of Statistics researchers and educators on evaluating the student attitudes has resulted on the development of several scales. For example, the Statistics Attitude Survey (SAS) (Wise, 1985), the Attitudes Toward Statistics Survey (ATS) (Roberts and Bilderback, 1980) and the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics (SATS©) (Schau et al., 1995) widely used and applied in this area.
This study belongs to a teaching innovation project from the University of the Balearic Islands, which proposes to explore statistical concepts and instruments through the design, exploitation and analysis of a survey carried out by the students.
This research focuses on evaluating the attitudes of university students enrolled in Tourism management studies, before and after the process of learning statistic concepts, with the aim of providing recommendations that emphasise the value of the teaching and study of Statistics among students of Social Sciences.
To this end, in a first stage, the beliefs and attitudes towards statistic declared by the students at the beginning of the course were measured by SATS scale in its updated version of 36 items. In a second stage, once the course was finished, the process was repeated with the intention of observing the changes in attitudes. A data mining technique was applied, to know high-frequency words related to student's beliefs toward statistic subjects. A Factor Analysis was carried out which confirmed six dimensions, previously validated by SATS36 (affect, cognitive competence, value, difficulty, interest, effort), besides the comparison of the results before and after learning showed significant differences.
From the results emerge recommendations for teaching and learning, as well as for the improvement of attitudes towards statistics in Social Science degrees. In particular, it is recommended to involve the learner in the process of data collection, analysis and the communication of findings, as well as working on real experiences, with real data, and using learner-generated projects.
 Fullerton, J. A., and Umphrey, D. (2001). An analysis of attitudes toward statistics: Gender differences among advertising majors ((ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 456 479).
 Roberts, D. M., and Bilderback, E. W. (1980). Reliability and validity of statistics attitudes survey. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55(5), 235–238. Retrieved from http://www.personal.psu.edu/users/d/m/dmr/papers/statatt003.pdf
 Schau, C., Stevens, J., Dauphine, T., and Vecchio, A. (1995). The development and validation of the survey of attitudes towards statistics. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 55(5), 868–875.
 Wilensky, U. (1997). What is normal anyway? Therapy for epistemological anxiety. Educational Studies in Mathematics, 45, 401–405.
 Wise, S. L. (1985). The development and validation of a scale measuring attitudes toward statistics. Educational and Psychological Measurement, 45, 401–405.