School of Engineering, Information Technology and Physical Sciences

Increasing the stats for statistical methods

Who takes STATS1000?

STATS1000 is an introductory course in statistics that is core for various programs across the university. As such, the cohort is quite varied in their level of interest and level of mathematical abilities. Much of the cohort enter the course with much apprehension and concern. Traditionally, the fail rate for the course is 20-30% mainly due to students failing to complete all of the assessment items.

Changing how it is taught

As of Semester 2, 2015 a new approach to teaching stats has been implemented. STATS1000 is now taught with a one-hour lecture to provide the concepts for the week. The finer details of the required statistical techniques are then discussed in smaller tutorial classes by examining traditional textbook questions. In the last semester, hands-on activities, small group discussions, and tutor led demonstrations were introduced to allow students to see various ways statistics are used. Students then work with data on their own via computer lab worksheets that utilised the skills and knowledge learned in each week's material.

Listening to students has resulted in targeted and extra resource

Extra resources have also been developed to assist both the online and face-to-face students. Students have told us that they often struggle reading statistics textbooks. In light of this, Moodle books have been provided each week to summarise the main concepts. These books also provide more information than the standard texts, including YouTube videos and applets. This allows students access to other media to see the concepts of stats in use. To further assist students, lectures have been recorded so that the engaging experience can be captured with questions asked and answered by students.

Offering self assessments

Moodle quizzes are provided each week to allow students to self-evaluate their knowledge. These are not assessed. In addition, the weekly learning outcomes are provided on Moodle for students to self-evaluate when they feel they are competent. These outcomes are available privately to each student, and the lecturer, to monitor the areas students are finding difficult. Students are directed in Moodle, via prompts and links, to everything that needs to be progressively completed, allowing students to see their progress and understand what is expected in the future.

Improved results

The changes introduced to the way STATS1000 has been taught in the past is the result of both research and listening to our students. While the changes have empowered students by proving that their feedback and concerns have been heard and actioned, the benefits have also been reflected in the marked change of grades. The results to date have been an increase in the rate of passes and credits, and therefore a reduction in MF grades.

This initiative aligned with Priority 3 of the Student Retention and Success Strategic Plan 2015-2017, focusing on targeted interventions with the highest attrition and fail rates. For more information on this initiative, please contact Dr Christopher Turville, Senior Lecturer, School of Science Engineering and Information Technology.

If you would like to contribute to the School's examples of effective practice, please contact Associate Dean Teaching and Quality, Andrew Barton, or Initiative Coordinator Kim Ferguson.