Project SMILES for Introductory Statistics
Student-Made Interactive Learning with Educational Songs

Project SMILES developed and assessed an online innovation in learning where students create a song by filling in key words associated with a statistics learning objective. These interactive songs challenge students to make conceptual connections and construct examples or context, thereby fostering statistical literacy and reasoning skills. By reducing statistics anxiety (a key impediment to student success) and enhancing student learning, the potential impact is striking. Interactive songs are a novel learning resource that holds great potential for teaching literacy and reasoning skills in statistics and other STEM disciplines. The web-based, machine-run, and auto-graded characteristic of this resource provides easy access to students anywhere anytime, and addresses instructor hesitations about in-class use.

For instructors, interactive songs are readily adaptable, regardless of pedagogy (e.g., easily incorporated in an online, flipped, or lecture/lab course), and provide a dynamic bridge for groups like two-year college adjuncts who seek more engagement with the statistics education reform movement.

Most importantly, for students, these professional-quality interactive songs are designed to engage, lessen anxiety, and foster active learning that enhances statistical reasoning skills. For enhanced value, a distinctive artist/scientist collaborative created original musical resources of high artistic and educational quality. In fall 2019, we published a JSE paper that details our process (and includes analysis of log file data), and also launched a column in Teaching Statistics illustrating items such as SMILES songs in an overall lesson trajectory. Also, see our archived presentations at eCOTS 2018, VOICES 2018, USCOTS 2019, and eCOTS 2020.

Project SMILES was supported by (September 2015 - August 2020) NSF DUE EAGER grants #1544426 (PSU), 1544237 (UTEP), and 1544243 (GSU). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Those interested in possible commercial use of Project SMILES materials should email the SMILES team. Commercial use of songs or their related materials is not permitted without the expressed permission of the appropriate copyright holders.

Instructors wanting associated teacher resources (multiple-choice assessment items, sheet music, etc.) should send a request from their institutional email.


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