Investigating statistical literacy and scientific reasoning & argumentation in medical-, social sciences-, and economics students

Document Type


Publication Date


Originally Published In

Learning and Individual Differences

Volume Number


Page Numbers



Statistical literacy and scientific reasoning and argumentation skills are fundamental for professional practice. Although these skills are fostered during university study programs, there are indicators that they are underdeveloped in students. In an explorative 2 × 3 study with N = 212 students from one major German university, we investigated how students differ in these skills, depending on study domain (Medicine, Social Sciences, Economics) and study progress (undergraduate, graduate). We assembled an online test battery to assess statistical literacy as well as scientific reasoning and argumentation skills (focusing on evidence evaluation and drawing conclusions in particular) and logical reasoning and epistemological beliefs as additional variables. We found a significant effect of study domain on statistical literacy but no effect of study progress. Additional analyses revealed the importance of epistemological beliefs for statistical literacy as well as for scientific reasoning and argumentation skills. We conclude with implications for curricula in higher education.