By Paul J. van Staden, Christine Kraamwinkel, Ricardo Marques Salgado, René Stander (Department of Statistics, University of Pretoria, South Africa)
A new course, Statistics 122 (STC122), was born at the University of Pretoria, South Africa, in July 2020. This course is presented by the Department of Statistics to first-year students majoring in various degrees including Accounting Sciences, Economics, Investment Management and Statistics & Data Science. The students are from diverse socio-economic backgrounds with varying exposure to technology. In 2020 there were 200 students in STC122, 350 students took STC122 in 2021, and in 2022 we expect 1000 students. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, STC122 is presented and assessed online using Blackboard and Gradescope.
STC122 introduces students to foundational statistical concepts. Furthermore, inferential and computational tools, which build upon the foundational concepts, are presented. All inferential analyses in STC122 are done using R software, thus requiring students to learn this programming language.
Most students in STC122 have no prior programming experience and are consequently extremely anxious about coding. To help them convert their fear of coding to the fun of coding, we give them R coding challenges during the semester. These coding challenges are not compulsory. Our presentation will showcase the coding challenges aimed at providing students with opportunities outside formal assessment to improve their coding and to encourage active learning.