A Model for a Student Engaged Learning in an Elementary Statistics (SELES) Classroom

Leigh Harrell-Williams
Associate Professor
University of Memphis

Need: Farmus et al. (2020) noted that the flipped classroom (FC) has become the “trendiest pedagogical approach in post-secondary educational research”. Their meta-analysis of FCs in introductory statistics courses demonstrates some evidence of positive impact on end-of-semester performance. Building on this work, we present results of a multiple semester quasi-experimental study comparing the FC (or SELES) sections to traditional lecture sections in a statistical literacy course for non-mathematics majors (MATH 1530) during the COVID-19 pandemic, where section sizes ranged from 35 to 75. The unique contributions include (1) the use of three instructors, each teaching one FC section and a traditional section and (2) a mix of delivery formats (one semester as remote synchronous instruction; one semester as in-person, but socially distanced instruction).Guiding Questions: The project seeks to answer three research questions:1)To what extent and in what ways does the SELES classroom contribute to students’ conceptual knowledge, mindset, and attitudes towards statistics in an elementary statistics course?2)To what extent, if any, does the SELES classroom differently impact groups typically underrepresented in STEM courses and first generation students?3)What are instructors’ perceptions of the SELES classroom? Outcomes: To address student outcomes, students enrolled in the project sections of MATH 1530 completed online surveys and knowledge assessments at the start and end of the semester. A Qualtrics survey contained items measuring mindset (Dweck, 1999) and the Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics (SATS-36; Schau, 2003). The Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes in a First Statistics course (CAOS; delMas et al, 2007) was administered via the assessment portal. Initial ANCOVA results comparing flipped versus traditional sections, with instructor as a covariate, for one semester of remote synchronous and one semester of in-person instructions are reported here. There was no difference in scores on the Comprehensive Assessment of Outcomes in a First Statistics course (CAOS) during either semester. During the in-person semester, there was a very weak effect in favor of the FC sections for the value and interest subscales of the SATS-36. Results regarding perceptions and differential impact are not yet available.Broader Impacts: The SELES classroom may have the potential to recruit some non-STEM students into STEM disciplines by turning a subject they do not like and may feel intimidated by into a subject that engages them. This group of students is typically very diverse, with a large proportion of students coming from historically underrepresented groups in STEM areas. For instance, at the U of M, nearly 60% of undergraduates are female, 40% are URM and 30% are first generation. This project has a unique opportunity to be able to study the impact of the SELES classroom on diverse groups, an important contribution to the literature. Many undergraduate students fear or dread having to take a math or statistics course and the SELES classroom has the potential to change their attitudes towards math and statistics. We believe the project will also lead to a greater understanding of statistical concepts, making this group more informed consumers of information.


Dale Bowman, University of Memphis;