Statistics classes aim to make lectures more accessible to students

By Vivienne Henning

With the strain of budget cuts, statistics instructors have to use limited space and resources to try and help out their students. But an online course option for Statistics 100 is in the process of being finalized and approved that may make the lives of students and staff easier.

Professor and senior lecturer for statistics, Ellen Fireman, was awarded a grant as a part of the LAS Top Ten Innovative Initiative, a program designed to advance learning techniques for introductory courses. Together with the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, statistics lecturers joined forces to form a proposal for lecture and classroom capture — the recording of lectures and classroom activities for students — said Richard Furr, CITL elearning professional.

“There are differing levels of classroom capture,” Furr said. “(It can be as) complex as audio recording, a video feed of what is being projected, a camera shot of the instructor/presenter and additional cameras and microphones on students.”

Fireman and Furr have worked together on a proposal of an integrated online version of Statistics 100 that would utilize written and tested lecture and classroom capture this past semester.

“With classroom capture, students have the ability to review, pause, replay, and control the recording,” Furr said. “They use the recordings to review material that may have missed in class while taking notes. Students may also concentrate on sections of a lecture that need further study.”

An additional resource that has a positive reputation amongst statistics students is the course notebook Fireman originally wrote, which has been adapted each year, said statistics instructor Karle Laska.

“This is by far the best teaching tool, it gets the most praise from the students,” Laska said. “We believe in really vivid examples. So stuff is typed out, but they also have to write in the notebook, (which also) has practice exams and study guides.”

With the combined availability of in-class resources and an additional online space, Fireman said that they just want to make sure that they’re available to help students in any way they can.

“We brainstormed together how to reach people who have different learning styles. I believe when people take ownership of their learning (it) means more to them,” Fireman said. “We don’t think of it as online, or not online. We think of how we can interact with the students and use all of our technology for learning.”

The new online course option for Statistics 100 is an effort to make the course material more accessible to students of different learning styles.

“We don’t want a division,” she said. “We just want you to learn however you can learn.”

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