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University of Texas Arlington - MyLab Statistics

This case study was created by Pearson. Pearson retains sole editorial control and responsibility for the content in this case study.

MyLab Statistics with MyLabsPlus™ educator study assesses student performance in Elementary Statistics course at University of Texas Arlington

Key Findings

  • After implementing a hybrid course redesign using MyLab Statistics, Elementary Statistics ABC rates improved nine percentage points from Spring 2013–2015 and four percentage points from Fall 2012–2015.
  • Coordinators report—and student survey respondents agree—that the institution of flex time for required lab hours has helped students come to the lab when they are able, rather than skipping the lab because they are running late.

School name: University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX Course name: Elementary Statistics Course format: Hybrid (One 80-minute class meeting and two 80-minute lab meetings each week; fixed due dates, scheduled meetings with flex lab time allowed plus optional open lab time) Course materials: MyLab Statistics; Fundamentals of Statistics by Sullivan, Optional scientific calculator, as specified on syllabus Timeframe: Fall 2012–Spring 2016 Educator: Shanna Banda, Learning Resource Director Analyst: Bobby Childress, Learning Resource Coordinator Results reported by: Traci Simons, Pearson Customer Outcomes Analytics Manager

Setting

The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) is a public research university located on a 420-acre campus in Arlington, Texas. The campus is in the Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington metropolitan area, and is adjacent to downtown Arlington. The university was founded in 1895 and was in the Texas A&M University system for several decades until joining The University of Texas system in 1965.

In Fall 2014, the campus student population of 35,000 was the second-largest in the UT System. The Carnegie Foundation in 2016 classified UT Arlington in the category of “R-1: Doctoral Universities – Highest Research Activity.” Only 115 institutions in the nation are listed in that category which is often referred to as “tier one.” The Chronicle of Higher Education named the university one of the fastest growing public research universities in the nation. UTA offers 81 baccalaureate, 71 masters, and 31 doctoral degrees, and the average gift aid package—grants and scholarships that do not have to be repaid—is about $5,700 per student. In addition, U.S. News & World Report has ranked UT Arlington fifth among national universities for undergraduate diversity: 22 percent Hispanic, 15 percent African American, 10 percent Asian, and 11 percent International.

The Math Department at UTA serves over 10,000 students annually and in 2013 was the winner of the American Mathematical Society’s AMS Award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department for doubling the size of its doctoral program over five years and bolstering those ranks with historically underrepresented student groups, including women and minorities. Learn more about UTA’s 2013 AMS award.

About the Course

The Elementary Statistics course at UTA is offered through the Math Emporium, which is a part of the math department and is an academic and tutoring computer lab available to UT Arlington students currently enrolled in undergraduate and graduate math classes. The lab is open 8:00 a.m.–9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and closes at 5:00 p.m. on Friday. It is open 9:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m. on Saturday. There are 154 seats in the lab, four of which are privacy booths, and a smaller lab across the hall houses 41 computers. The average lecture and lab class size is 150 students. The Lab is staffed at all times, always by undergraduate tutors and with graduate workers during peak times, with the goal of a student-to-undergraduate tutor ratio of 25:1. All undergraduate tutors must be STEM majors and are typically engineering or math majors, with some students coming from the school’s UTeach program, which consists of education majors with a strong math background.

Topics in the Statistics course may include collection, analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data. Analysis includes descriptive statistics, probability, relationships between variables and graphs, elementary statistical models, hypothesis testing, inference, estimation, correlation, regression and confidence intervals.

Challenges and Goals

“We were losing the sense of a cohesive unit. I basically suggested that we reduce the class size to 150 in the lecture sections and then come together in a single lab. Class size makes such a huge difference.”

In June 2013, Shanna Banda was recruited to UTA’s math department as the Learning Resource Director with the goal of solving “the gateway courses problem.” Because she came from a community college and had experience with the emporium model, UTA hoped she could help improve the courses’ success rates (students earning a C or better). The department had already started an emporium course for their Statistics course in 2012, but it wasn’t working as they’d hoped: each lecture section had 200 students who were then split into two lab sections of 100 students each. Success rates were still considered low by the administration. Banda and the faculty quickly realized that in “teaching” large lectures but splitting students up in labs, they were losing some collaborative work that could happen between students because they weren’t seeing the same classmates each meeting. “We were losing the sense of a cohesive unit,” Banda states. “I basically suggested that we reduce the class size to 150 in the lecture sections and then come together in a single lab. Class size makes such a huge difference.” Backed by that theory, the department hypothesized that by adjusting their old model, they would encourage collaboration between students and their instructors, and their student success metrics would improve.

Implementation

“If you don’t have an attendance requirement there, they don’t come. Intrinsic motivation isn’t worth anything to students, but points are!”

While taking attendance is not required at UTA, each faculty member is free to develop his or her own methods of evaluating students’ academic performance, which includes establishing course-specific policies on attendance. All sections of Statistics have the following attendance policy:

  • Upon entry into the lab, students are required to log in to an attendance tracking system using their MavID card. They are also required to sign out when leaving the lab.
  • Over the course of the semester, in addition to lecture attendance, students are required to complete 36 hours of study time within the Math Emporium. Lab hours must be completed throughout the course of the semester. Benchmark periods are designated in the table below and must be met in order to fulfill this course requirement. (NOTE: Any time accumulated over the required 12 hours within each benchmark rolls over to the next benchmark.)
  • The attendance requirement is five percent of a student’s overall course grade. By semester’s end, a student’s attendance grade is 0, 25, 50, 75 or 100, depending upon the number of benchmarks met and lecture attendance.
  • If a student misses a lab time, he or she is allowed to make up time during open lab hours within the associated benchmark period.

Each section of Statistics meets once per week for lecture/discussion for 80 minutes and two times per week for 80 minutes together in the lab. If a section is scheduled for Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 9:00 a.m., then they would meet for lecture/discussion on Monday and then lab on Wednesday and Friday. Banda recommends that the lectures be treated as a flipped classroom, so the lab before lecture (Friday, in this scenario) is spent reviewing online resources on topics that will be covered in class on Monday.

Discussion sessions, as Banda calls them, start with the entry quiz that assesses whether students came to class prepared for the material. Instruction during class usually covers two sections of the book per meeting. Typically, this time is spent working problems on a doc camera or in small groups. While StatCrunch (a statistical analysis software found in MyLab Statistics) is used in three assignments throughout the course, Banda and the faculty stress that students should use formula sheets, create tables, and draw out frequency tables and normal curves on their own. They feel it’s important that discussion sessions spend more time on written visualizations and number crunching so that students can tell where the numbers are coming from and what they mean. Once students understand that, they move into technology exercises using StatCrunch or Excel. At the end of the lecture/discussion session, students take an exit quiz.

While students are able to start their homework assignment for the week at any point, they usually finish up the MyLab Statistics homework assignment in lab on Wednesday, and it is due by midnight on Wednesday. In addition, students sometimes take a content quiz while in the lab.

Besides learning material and working on homework, quizzes, and tests in the lab, breakout sessions are also held during this time. One lab day per week has 30 minutes reserved as a breakout. The instructor chooses how to spend this time. Typically, challenging content is reviewed, or instructors may dig deeper into a particular topic based on student gradebook data that identify learning gaps and areas of misunderstanding.

To read more: MyLab Statistics with MyLabsPlus™ educator study assesses student performance in Elementary Statistics course at University of Texas Arlington

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