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Repurposing a peer-reviewed publication to engage students in statistics: An illustration of study design, data collection, and analysis


Engaging and motivating students in undergraduate statistics courses can be enhanced by using topical peer-reviewed publications for analyses as part of course assignments. Given the popularity of on-campus therapy dog stress-reduction programs, this topic fosters buy-in from students whilst providing information regarding the importance of mental health and well-being as it impacts learning. This paper describes how instructors can use a study on the benefits of human–dog interactions to teach students about study design, data collection and ethics, and hypothesis testing. The data and research questions are accessible to students without requiring detailed subject-area knowledge. Students can think carefully about how to collect and analyze data from a randomized controlled trial with two-sample hypothesis tests. Instructors can use these data for short in-class examples or longer assignments and assessments, and throughout this article, we suggest activities and discussion questions.