eCOTS 2012 - Virtual Poster #15

"A study of the hand-on experiences in the survey of statistics course for the undergraduate students"
with Wenning Feng, Michigan State University

Hosted by: Sam Morris, North Carolina State University

During the past decade, the idea of active learning has been broadly discussed and implemented in the modern education for a better learning environment construction. In statistical education, the hand-on experience is one of the effective and ideal active learning techniques. However, in the survey of statistics course, the hand-on experience implementation hasn't gain its popularity due to the confliction between the intensive lecture schedule and the time-consuming in-class activities where students can get some instant hand-on experiences. In this paper, we conducted an experiment to study the importance of the in-class hand-on experience implementation under different lecture topics. By analyzing the survey data and students' test performance, we are able to investigate students' subjective demand and the objective learning outcome improvements induced by the hand-on experience implementation under each particular topic. Furthermore, we classify all the activities according to the Bloom's Taxonomy and use the Structural Equation Modeling to study how the activities at a given knowledge level can improve the students' learning outcome for the knowledge at other levels. Finally, we give the implementation guidelines for those activities in a one-semester introductory statistics course for the undergraduates.

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Liz Prather:

Thank you. One question: you mentioned breaking down more complicated activities into smaller parts. Could you explain further?

Wenning Feng:

Thank you very much for your question, Liz. For the large scale problem, like the hypotheses testing, we recommend to break it down to small parts, from setting up the hypotheses to making a conclusion. The main reason is because students' static memory is usually very short when they learn something new. Instead of putting everything together as a "giant" activity, it will be more efficient (save class time) and more encouraging (student will find it is easier). Later in the homework, they still have the chance to practice the entire process.

Jim Robison-Cox:

Very interesting. Finding time for activities is certainly a challenge. Like most of us, I feel I should lecture too much. If you said, I missed an explanation of whether these are individual or group activities. Do yo break them into groups? Do you have more materials available about the activities you used? Thanks.

Wenning Feng:

Thank you for your question, Jim. The choice of individual activity or group activity really depends the goal of lecturing. For most of the cases, I would love the students to get some experiences on applying formula, using the notations and so on. Then I prefer to set the activity as an individual format. But discussion with neighbors and instructors are strongly encouraged in my class. On the other hand, if the activity involves more thinking/judgment, like in randomness, independent vs. disjoint, and interpretations of the C.I., I will assign the activity as a group format because discussions/arguments within a group will help their understandings in a broader way. Please send me an email to I'll organize my activities and send you a copy. Thank you very much for your interests!