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Dordt College professor receives grant to continue development of new statistics curriculum

February 28, 2014

The National Science Foundation awarded a $550,000 grant to Dordt College for further development of an innovative, new curriculum that transforms how statistics is taught.

The project, titled “Broadening the impact and evaluating the effectiveness of randomization-based introductory statistics,” is led by Dordt College Statistics Professor Nathan Tintle, who is coordinating a seven-member team of statisticians from Hope College, California Polytechnic State University, and Mount Holyoke College.

Tintle says that traditional introductory statistics courses do not have students critically evaluate and develop statistical arguments; instead they focus on technical details. This new curriculum is one of the first to use randomization-based methods. “This type of curricula focuses on students’ conceptual understanding by using real data and a mix of tactile and computer simulation techniques,” said Tintle.

For several years, he and his fellow researchers have been developing, refining, and assessing the computer-intensive curriculum, testing it at more than 20 institutions and with more than 3,000 students, including Dordt College students. 

“We’ve been able to show strong student learning gains on key statistical concepts,” says Tintle. “With the support of this new grant, we are excited about training hundreds of faculty members in the new curriculum over the next few years, leading to potential benefit for many thousands of additional students.”

The grant will also allow the team to collect assessment data that will help them better understand how well students are learning key statistical concepts. This data will then help the researchers refine the curriculum even further.

Learn more about statistics at Dordt College, including new programs in applied statistics and actuarial science, and research opportunities for high school students and undergraduates at www.dordt.edu.

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