Activating multiple senses in learning Statistics

Alice Richardson, Felicia Zhang, Brett A. Lidbury

Abstract


Introduction to Statistics at the University of Canberra (UC) is a service unit taken by students from a variety of disciplines. However, it is common for students to dislike and under-perform in Statistics. We sought to address these issues by redesigning the way that Statistics is taught. Given the importance of acquiring statistical language to learning Statistics, we decided to employ language learning techniques in Statistics classes. The project brought together a statistician and an educational expert to reconceptualise the syllabus, and focused on developing different methods of delivery. New teaching materials including online exercises and new ways of delivery involving multiple senses of hearing, speaking and moving were designed and produced, placing greater emphasis on applying statistics and interpreting data. Two cohorts of students were evaluated, the control cohort (CG, 2007 Semester 1) with a traditional teaching style, and the experimental cohort (EG) taught with non-traditional methods, as summarised above (2008 Semester 1). Students in EG showed a greater improvement in defining key concepts such as population and standard deviation and have improved attitudes towards the role of statistics to their disciplines and performed significantly better in class tests and examinations.

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