"Use of Gapminder.org in Introductory Statistics to Bridge Across Disciplines"
Dai-Trang Le, University of California at Los Angeles
The use of project-based teaching approach is neither new nor unprecedented. Project- based learning and other interactive approach have been promoted to engage students and create active learning environment. However, few instructors in large lecture halls utilize this approach as it is often difficult to design effective projects, manage multiple group activities and interactions, or allocate enough time to cover contents. So "How can faculty keep students engaged and bring together all backgrounds and majors in large lecture hall courses?"
In my presentation I will demonstrate how to use Gapminder.org to create project- based activities in a large introductory statistics course in order to engage and connect students across disciplines. I will explain the value of using projects in teaching statistics for large classes. With a project-based teaching approach students are provided opportu- nities to gain new skills. They learn to conduct meaningful investigations, use different statistical software to manipulate, restructure, and analyze data, write statistical reports, while improving their writing and research skills. In addition, the activities motivate and promote in-depth learning through engaging students in authentic tasks and teamwork.
With Gapminder.org, the possibility of engaging student is perpetual. While supervis- ing student projects, I observed a dynamic learner-centered environment where students worked together, used multiple open-source platforms to collaborate, shared work, and en- gaged in activities across their disciplines. Only four weeks into the course, students from different backgrounds were applying their knowledge of statistics to discover answers to questions of their interests via graphics and regression analyses. As a group of students put it in their reflective paper at the end of the project:
"This project, though extremely time consuming, was invaluable in terms of progress- ing our statistical knowledge, increasing our mastery of statistical tools, and fueling our passions for further advancement of knowledge of the world."
Another student also stated
"This project was an eye opening experience to cooperate with people from different walks of life (all majors)"
I will conclude my presentation by sharing sample selected student work including screencast videos, presentation slides, poster slideshow, full statistical narratives, and a summary of reflective papers.
Project Website: sites.google.com/site/gapminderproject
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