Scientific Program > Topic 6 > Session 6F >
Presentation 6F3. Results from a Clinical Trial in an Introductory Statistics Course:
Evaluating the Effect of Multimedia Presentations on Student Learning and Attitudes

Sterling Hilton (USA)


Presentation Abstract

With advances in technology occurring at a rapid pace, there is an existing movement to incorporate higher levels of technology into the educational arena; however, there is no clear evidence that higher levels of technology result in improved student learning. This technological push, however, is simply symptomatic of a larger problem in the education arena: critical policy decisions that affect large numbers of individuals are made using anecdotal data and personal experiences. Careful searching of the education literature reveals that there is very little data from large-scale, randomized, controlled studies that evaluate current educational practice and innovations.

This paper presents the results from a large, randomized, controlled experiment that we conducted in the introductory, non-calculus-based statistics course taught at Brigham Young University. Because of limited resources and the large number of students who enroll in the course each semester, classes are relatively large (200 students) and the primary method of instruction is a lecture presentation. Students also attend a weekly, hour long recitation session that consists of no more than 20 students. We collected data on approximately 5000 students who enrolled in regular day sections of the course in 1999-2000. The primary treatment under evaluation was the level of technology used in the lecture presentation, and it had two levels: 1) a low, standard level of technology, i.e., overhead projector and chalkboard, and 2) a multimedia level of technology, i.e., power point presentations, video clips, animation and computer applets. A randomized, complete block design was employed to control for the effect of the instructor on the outcomes. Primary outcomes include performance on midterm and final examinations and student attitudes towards statistics measured using the Survey of Attitudes toward Statistics (Schau et al., 1995).

Since learning is a complex process and since what happens in the classroom is only one part of this process, we also collected information regarding individual student characteristics that potentially influence learning and attitudes. Such information includes learning style (measured using Index of Learning Styles (Soloman and Felder, 1995)), demographic information (age, gender, major area of study), general aptitude and preparation (previous math experience, previous statistics experience, overall university GPA, ACT scores), and student effort (class attendance, homework scores, average weekly time spent studying course material, average time spent preparing for exams). We not only control for these student characteristics in the analyses of the treatment, but we also explore the associations and relationships between these characteristics and student learning and attitudes.

We sent a follow-up survey at one and six months post-course to randomly selected samples of students who enrolled in the course in 2000. This follow-up survey was designed to assess student retention of six basic concepts taught in the course and their attitudes towards the value and relevance of statistics in the education and personal lives. The response rate to the one month, post-course survey was about 60%, and it was about 45% to the six month survey. Time permitting, we will present results from the follow-up surveys.


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