Building Statistical Literacy for Success in Higher Education
Lead University: University of Newcastle
Lead Researcher: Peter Howley
Research Team: Peter Howley and Elena Prieto
Year Funded: 2015
Funding Received: $161,151
A suite of research-informed digital media resources was created, evaluated and disseminated to enable students from disadvantaged backgrounds to succeed in a range of STEM and health sciences degrees. A focus of this project was to enable access to these resources for low SES and culturally diverse students in regional and remote locations, with the aim of increasing access and reducing attrition in STEM degrees.
- The project had two objectives:
- create, evaluate and disseminate a set of research-informed digital media resources to enable students to succeed in a range of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and health sciences degrees
- support the development and understanding of statistical threshold concepts for primary and secondary students.
- A particular focus of the project was to enable access to these resources for low socioeconomic status (SES) and culturally diverse students in rural, regional and remote locations, with the aim of increasing access and reducing attrition in higher education STEM degrees.
- The participants in the project included:
- project manager
- three post-graduate research assistants
- one undergraduate research assistant
- eight academics across four universities
- over 1000 students across 32 schools
- six mentors
- 19 judges
- team of external digital media consultants.
- The outputs from the project included:
- creation of a research-informed sequence of 12 innovative animated videos (each 3–5 minutes), designed to increase the appeal and accessibility of specific areas of introductory statistical knowledge and skills, and address common misunderstandings
- the unification of these resources on a Stats Tune Up! website: statstuneup.com.au.
- the development of a National Statistical Literacy campaign, including a project-based learning activity, 13 expert videos of statistics in practice, one instructional video and 3 supporting and testimonial videos (each 1–4 minutes)
- the unification of these resources within a website: http://www.ssaipostercomp.info/schools/resources.html, including link to above statstuneup.com.au website
- a marketing campaign and an evaluation strategy.
- The key outcomes from the project included:
- the creation of resources to support learning, statistical knowledge, statistical skills, capacity, retention, and wellbeing of students from low SES, remotely located and culturally diverse backgrounds
- building the capacity of these students and their peers to improve higher education access, retention and completion of tertiary STEM and health sciences degrees for students who may otherwise lose connection with their programs due to statistical anxiety
- the dissemination and embedding of resources within the University of Newcastle and beyond and incorporating primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of education.
- The digital resources were to be used to develop practical skills by incorporation into first year lectures and bridging courses, embedding in web-based learning management systems, as well as on social media sites, and in first year student support packages at the University and nationally.
- The audience at the University of Newcastle was approximately 5000 first year students.
- The project built upon the HEPPP funded Maths Tune Up! website which has had 5556 unique visitors over 11 months, with the majority of users accessing the site through the University. Up to 87 per cent of visitors to the site utilised the resource for up to 30 minutes, successfully navigated links, downloaded PDF resource sheets, and then made return visits (1.92 returns for each unique user). The outputs of this work will continue to be disseminated through the national organisation’s newsletters — including the Statistical Society of Australia and the Australian Association of Mathematics Teachers.
- The National Statistical Literacy campaign was recognised in the Chief Scientist STEM Programme Index 2016, and received the 2017 International Statistical Institute’s Best Cooperative Project Award.
- The Building Statistical Literacy for Success project is recommended for educational institutions seeking to improve statistical literacy among students.
Summary prepared by the NCSEHE.