Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Making statistics matter: Self-data as a possible means to improve statistics learning
by Thayne, Jeffrey L., Ph.D., Utah State University, 2016, 276; 10250713
Abstract (Summary)

Research has demonstrated that well into their undergraduate and even graduate education, learners often struggle to understand basic statistical concepts, fail to see their relevance in their personal and professional lives, and often treat them as little more than mere mathematics exercises. Undergraduate learners often see statistical concepts as means to passing exams, completing required courses, and moving on with their degree, and not as instruments of inquiry that can illuminate their world in new and useful ways.

This study explored ways help learners in an undergraduate learning context to treat statistical inquiry as mattering in a practical research context, by inviting them to ask questions about and analyze large, real, messy datasets that they have collected about their own personal lives (i.e., self -data). This study examined the conditions under which such an intervention might (and might not) successfully lead to a greater sense of the relevance of statistics to undergraduate learners. The goal is to place learners in a context where their relationship with data analysis can more closely mimic that of disciplinary professionals than that of students with homework; that is, where they are illuminating something about their world that concerns them for reasons beyond the limited concerns of the classroom.

The study revealed five themes in the experiences of learners working with self-data that highlight contexts in which data-analysis can be made to matter to learners (and how self-data can make that more likely): learners must be able to form expectations of the data, whether based on their own experiences or external benchmarks; the data should have variation to account for; the learners should treat the ups and downs of the data as more or less preferable in some way; the data should address or related to ongoing projects or concerns of the learner; and finally, learners should be able to investigate quantitative or qualitative covariates of their data. In addition, narrative analysis revealed that learners using self-data treated data analysis as more than a mere classroom exercise, but as exercises in inquiry and with an invested engagement that mimicked (in some ways) that of a disciplinary professional.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Lee, Victor R.
Commitee: Camicia, Steven, Kim, Yanghee, Recker, Mimi, Schneiter, Kady
School: Utah State University
Department: Instructional Technology
School Location: United States -- Utah
Source: DAI-A 78/06(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Mathematics education, Statistics, Educational technology
Keywords: Motivation, Self-data, Statistical inquiry, Undergraduate learning
Publication Number: 10250713
ISBN: 978-1-369-43449-1
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