Last school year I was tasked with teaching Statistical Methods (a.k.a. introductory statistics). In our department this class is somewhat special in that it's standardized. There are about 5 to 6 sections each semester. Each instructor uses the same lecture slides, delivers a similar lecture, and gives the same quizzes and exams. The original mastermind behind this course wanted the curriculum to be largely student-directed. As part of this new curriculum, we tell students to study exclusively from the book to prepare for assessments as they are designed to very closely follow homework questions in the book. In this case “closely follow” means the exact same questions can appear on the assessment that were part of the assigned homework questions. Depending on the schedule, there are times during the semester where course material is only lectured on for a day before the students are quizzed on it. For these two reasons it seems advantageous to do the homework; however it is not calculated into the student's grade, so not everyone does it despite the potential benefits and me telling them to.
With this new curriculum, I wanted to ensure that students were being properly prepared for course assessments given we tell students to study in a specific way: read the chapters, do the homework. Are the homework/readings actually beneficial? My project was largely guided by this question.
To help me address this concern, I created a quick survey that students could fill out following each assessment throughout the semester. Questions asked students to report whether they completed the homework and readings, how much they completed, and how long they spent studying for the assessment. Out of the 10 assessments where survey data was collected, only 2 significantly predicted assessment scores from how much of the homework was completed by students.
Based on these preliminary results, it would be beneficial to make some strategic changes to the new curriculum. One relatively easy change would be to alter the schedule of quizzes so they would be administered after the students have more practice with the material. Changes like this are easy to implement and could improve classroom environment and student outcomes.
I could say more, but I don't want to give everything away! I'll be presenting this project as a poster at NITOP in 2019. I have several more analyses planned, so I’ll have lots more to say then! Hope to see you there! If you can't make it, feel free to contact me for a copy of the poster.
written by Jen Blush