By Sara Stoudt (Smith College); Deborah Nolan (University of California, Berkeley)
Statistics and data sciences classes at the undergraduate level often have a final project that involves students exploring a dataset and producing a final product. However, we as instructors rarely talk in depth about strategies to make these final products, like written reports or oral presentations, effective and engaging for a broader audience. In a final project that involves students exploring a dataset and producing a final report, students often present work in the order that they completed it. Reports reflect the research process but do not tell a compelling story. We present a sample “storyboarding” activity, sample dataset, and implementation tips that help students break this habit and re-organize their thinking based on a narrative. A storyboard, traditionally a visual outline used in movie making, in a data context is a set of figures and tables with connecting text from an exploratory phase of analysis. Guiding students through the iterative process of “storyboarding”, arranging these pieces, helps them adapt scope and hone statistical arguments. This activity is flexible; we have used it with undergraduates (small writing seminar for structuring a statistical report, large visualization course for creating visualizations that work together) and graduate students (small research seminar for making work more accessible).