Guest contributor: Michael Saver, Cengage Statistics

Over the past few years, the Statistics team at Cengage has been involved in research with thousands of instructors and students, listening intently to the needs on both sides.

We’ve learned a great deal about how students approach their Statistics courses and how instructors teach it. Coincidentally enough, we’ve found that both are looking for a lot of the same things. Here are three of our biggest takeaways from the research that helped shape our new Stats in Practice videos, one of the key features in WebAssign.

Students need to make the connection

“We were speaking to students who had decided to become Statistics majors. We asked all of these students, what was it in that intro course that excited you and made you want to end up becoming a Statistics major?

Pretty much every one of these students said some variation of the statement, “Once I understood how relevant this material is to the world around me, that’s when I started to get really interested. That is when I started doing well and once I started doing well, I started to really like it even more. Those are the students who ended up becoming Stats majors.”

-Ryan Ahern, Senior Marketing Manager

“Statistics is one of the fastest growing fields worldwide. Every student who takes Intro Stats in the United States is, without them realizing it before the class, bombarded with data. Data is quickly taking over the world and we’ve learned that many instructors have been instructed themselves to help students understand how data is used around the world”

-Catherine Van Der Laan, Product Manager, Statistics

Instructors are trying to get students to see Stats as more than math

“The vast majority of Statistics instructors explained that they’re just trying to help engage these students.

The way they defined that was, ‘once I can help them to see some of the real-world relevance of Statistics, teach them to analyze data and interpret what it all means in order to make better informed decisions, that is when students start to get hooked and they start doing really well.’

It was really fascinating to all of us because what we were hearing from students who ended up really liking stats is exactly what instructors are trying to do with more and more students.”

-Ryan Ahern, Senior Marketing Manager

Technology can help bridge the gap

“Stats in Practice was developed as a resource for instructors. We have heard that instructors like to find videos and find resources to apply statistics to real world scenarios so that students can see how statistics is used or misused in their everyday lives to persuade people around a certain point. We incorporate questions with these videos to help students to think critically around statistics and apply it to their lives.”

-Catherine Van Der Laan, Product Manager, Intro Statistics

“We really think with technology we can make it a little bit easier for instructors to help prove that relevance and help make those connections.”

-Ryan, Senior Marketing Manager

With these takeaways in mind, we’ve developed our newest feature, Stats in Practice, in WebAssign. With videos from sources like the BBC or CNN, this is the first step in creating a diverse and robust library of content from the news or documentaries that will help students apply what they’re learning in class to their daily lives.

» Want to learn more? Register for our “Help Students Fight Math Anxiety in Statistics” webinar