SRCD 2019 Biennial Conference
March 21-23, 2019
Title: Comics and Choices: Designing a Statistics Course for Diverse Learners (Poster)
Presenters: Grace Lin, Susanne Jaeggi
Introduction to statistics is often a dreaded, anxiety-inducing course in developmental science (e.g., Onwuegbuzie & Wilson, 2003; Paechter et al., 2017). However, considering the fundamental role an understanding of statistics plays in the savvy consumption of and the active participation in research, barriers to the learning of statistics should be addressed. These barriers may include statistics anxiety or just the general trend that students in education or social sciences are not primed to like or enjoy statistics, as previous statistics instructors have observed.
In an introductory Statistics in Education Research course, the instructor incorporated both Universal Design for Learning (UDL; CAST 2018) and humor (as recommended by Schacht & Stewart, 1990in the course design in order to make statistics contents more accessible and friendly to a diverse sample of undergraduate students. To be more specific, the course, with a class size of 60, will take place in the Winter 2019 term in a 4-year university recognized as a Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution. Furthermore, close to one-fifth of the undergraduate population are international students, most of whom are English learners.
To meet the needs of the diverse students, the course was designed with UDL principles. For example, in line with the UDL guideline of multiple ways of representation, the concept of statistical significance and p-hacking will be introduced, presented, and explained using both a light, cute jelly bean XKCD comic strip (https://xkcd.com/882/) as well as more serious scientific articles. Furthermore, to address the potential barrier that education students may lack interests in statistics, the guideline of “multiple ways of engagement” was utilized. Specifically, because students come from diverse backgrounds that may influence and shape what is important to them (e.g., an international student may feel utterly lost with a dataset that requires understanding of the K-12 educational system in the United States and therefore less likely to be engaged with such a dataset), multiple dataset options are given to the students for their final project.
To assess the impact of the UDL course design, the instructor will administer surveys in the beginning, middle, and end of the term to gauge students’ perception of statistics (e.g., items from Faber et al.’s (2018) statistics anxiety measure) as well as their future aspirations and motivation for taking the course (e.g., satisfy major requirement, aspire to become educational researchers or policymakers). The middle and end of the quarter surveys are constructed differently as the midterm survey will also function as a formative assessment to let the instructor know what may need to be adjusted. The final survey, in addition to the perception and aspiration questions, also asks for students’ reflection on the use of multiple dataset options as well as how likely they are to take more advanced statistics or research methods courses in the future.
We hypothesize that the implementation of both UDL and humor in the course design will be beneficial for education students’ learning, engagement, and attitude toward statistics.