A computer-enhanced course in descriptive statistics at the college level: An analysis of student achievement and attitudes
Sarah Knapp Abramowitz, New York University, United States
New York University . Awarded
In this study, a comparison was made between a traditional approach to teaching college introductory descriptive statistics and a nontraditional approach in which the computer statistics package SPSS was used throughout the course. Student achievement and attitudes were compared for the two treatments. There were 64 students in the nontraditional course and 52 students in the traditional course. The two courses were given a year apart in the spring semester and were taught by different instructors.
The results of nested, split-plot analyses of variance indicated that students in the nontraditional course (M = 41.26, SD = 6.13) statistically significantly outperformed those in the traditional course (M = 34.78, SD = 6.90), F(1, 2) = 53.34, p = .02, on the final examination for the course. This achievement effect was similar for all sub-topics and types of conceptual understanding tested on the final examination. The results also indicated that no statistically significant attitude differences were detected on the Attitudes Toward Statistics (ATS) Scale (Wise, 1985) between those in the nontraditional course (M = 2.42, SD = .47) and in the traditional course (M = 2.47, SD = .55), F(1, 2) = .38, p = .60. The student attitudes between the treatments were also similar when measured by responses on the departmental course evaluations.
Results of correlation analyses indicated that achievement and attitudes did not differ by gender or age for either of the two treatments. The only statistically significant student attributes found for predicting achievement and attitudes were achievement attributes such as self-reported mathematics ability and grade point average. Further, attitude in the course was not a statistically significant predictor of achievement in the course.
The results support the implementation of the nontraditional approach for students at large, urban universities in the northeast. Students who learned the introductory descriptive statistics with the nontraditional approach, incorporating a menu-driven computer statistics package, learned the statistics content better, liked the course just as much, and learned the additional skill of using a computer statistics package.
Abramowitz, S.K. A computer-enhanced course in descriptive statistics at the college level: An analysis of student achievement and attitudes. Ph.D. thesis, New York University.
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