Teaching modeling in introductory statistics: A comparison of formula and tidyverse syntaxes

By Amelia McNamara (University of St. Thomas)


This poster reports on an experiment run in a pair of introductory statistics labs, attempting to determine which of two R syntaxes was better for introductory teaching and learning: formula or tidyverse. One lab was conducted fully in the formula syntax, the other in tidyverse. Analysis of incidental data from YouTube and RStudio Cloud show interesting distinctions. The formula section appeared to watch a larger proportion of pre-lab YouTube videos, but spend less time computing on RStudio Cloud. Conversely, the tidyverse section watched a smaller proportion of the videos and spent more time on RStudio Cloud. Analysis of lab materials showed that tidyverse labs tended to be slightly longer (in terms of lines in the provided RMarkdown materials, as well as minutes of the associated YouTube videos), and the tidyverse labs exposed students to more distinct R functions. However, both labs relied on a quite small vocabulary of consistent functions. Analysis of pre- and post-survey data show no differences between the two labs, so students appeared to have a positive experience regardless of section. This work provides additional evidence for instructors looking to choose between syntaxes for introductory statistics teaching.

Pre-print: https://arxiv.org/abs/2201.12960
Code and data: https://github.com/AmeliaMN/ComparingSyntaxForModeling


Teaching modeling in introductory statistics.pdf