Using Real-Life Data When Teaching Statistics: Student Perceptions of this Strategy in an Introductory Statistics Course

David L. Neumann, Michelle Hood, and Michelle M. Neumann

Many teachers of statistics recommend using real-life data during class lessons. However, there has been little systematic study of what effect this teaching method has on student engagement and learning. The resent study examined this question in a first-year university statistics course. Students (n=38) were interviewed and their reflections on the use of real-life data during the classes were coded into themes. Resulting themes were (a) relevant perspective in learning, (b) interest, (c) learn/remember material, (d) motivation, (e) involvement/engagement, and (f) understanding of statistics. The results indicate both cognitive and affective/motivational factors are associated with using real-life data to teach statistics. The results also suggest the features in data sets statistics teachers should look for when designing their lessons.