The Impact of Student-Directed Projects in Introductory Statistics

Dianna Spence, Brad Bailey, and Julia Sharp

 A multi-year study investigated the impact of incorporating student-directed
discovery projects into introductory statistics courses. Pilot instructors at institutions
across the United States taught statistics implementing student-directed projects with
the help of a common set of instructional materials designed to facilitate such
projects. Researchers measured the impact of these projects on student learning and
on students’ attitudes and beliefs about statistics. Results of the quantitative analyses
are shared, with subsequent discussion of their implications. Findings suggest that
inclusion of student-directed research projects in introductory statistics can lead to
greater statistics self-efficacy and improved statistical knowledge in specific domains.
Additional analyses suggest that these student benefits may improve as their
instructors gain more experience facilitating such projects.