A Meta-analytic Review of Studies of the Effectiveness of Small-Group Learning Methods on Statistics Achievement

Sema A. Kalaian and Rafa M. Kasim

This meta-analytic study focused on the quantitative integration and synthesis of the accumulated
pedagogical research in undergraduate statistics education literature. These accumulated research studies compared the academic achievement of students who had been instructed using one of the various forms of small-group learning methods to those who had been instructed using
lecture-based instruction. The meta-analytic results showed that cooperative, collaborative, and
inquiry-based learning methods were used in college-level statistics courses. The results also
showed that cooperative and collaborative learning methods supported the effectiveness of the
small-group learning methods in improving students’ academic achievement with an overall
average effect-size of 0.60. In contrast, the effectiveness of inquiry-based learning was close to
zero. This significant positive average effect-size indicated that using small-group learning
methods in statistics classrooms could increase the achievement of college students, increasing
the scores on a statistics exam from the 50th to the 73rd percentile. In addition, the multilevel
analysis revealed that the effect sizes were influenced significantly by the publication-year of the
studies, with the most recently published studies having lower effect sizes. The major
implication of this study is that evidence-based research supports the effectiveness of active
small-group learning methods in promoting students’ achievement in statistics.

The CAUSE Research Group is supported in part by a member initiative grant from the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics and Data Science Education