**Statistics Discipline Assessment 2006-2007**

Scope of assessment activities

___√__Course-embedded assessment

___√___ Pre- and post-testing

___√__ Outside the classroom

___√__ Across the discipline

Direct measures of student learning

___√__ Capstone experience

___√__ Portfolio assessment

______ Standardized tests

______ Performance on national licensure, certification or

preprofessional exams

___√__ Qualitative internal and external juried review of

of comprehensive senior projects

______ Externally reviewed exhibitions and performances in

the arts

______ External evaluation of performance during internships

Discussion and Description

Discipline goals, direct measures, and improved student learning

1. Structure of assessment activities in the statistics discipline

Assessment of student learning occurs in four areas:

á general education

á the statistics major and minor

á liberal arts statistical support system

á special areas of service learning/civic engagement and technology enhanced learning

The focus in this report will be on the major and general education, and on technology enhanced learning only to the degree that it bears on the two areas of focus.

2. Three phases

The assessment program is divided into three phases:

á setting forth the disciplineÕs mission, establishing learning objectives, delineating expected outcomes, identifying and organizing assessment methods and tools

á identifying possible uses and actions based on assessment

á improving student learning based on assessment data

3. Discipline learning objectives

á
Students will gain the basic *knowledge* and *skills* to make statistical contributions to modern society, whether
in the form of pure statistics or statistics applied to other disciplines.

á
Students will sharpen their *statistical intuition* and *abstract
reasoning* as well as their reasoning from numeric data.

á
Statistics and statistics curriculum will
enhance studentsÕ *critical thinking*
in domains involving judgments based on data and stimulate the type of *independent thinking* requiring research
beyond the confines of the textbook.

á
The curriculum will *prepare students* to enter graduate school, and pursue careers in
applied statistics.

á
The students will be able to *see* and *communicate* statistical ideas/results effectively and *identify* potential pitfalls of any
statistical analysis.

Each learning objective is accompanied by expected outcomes.

4. Course-embedded assessment of the general education component

4.1 Learning checks

A
learning check is a studentÕs performance on a statistical topic such as scatterplots or least-squares
regression[1].
Thirty checks are used every semester in every section of the two introductory
statistics courses, *Introduction to
Statistics*, with a high school algebra
prerequisite, and the calculus-based *Statistical
Methods.* This tool was implemented in 1997 when the college curriculum was
based on the quarter system. The database has 3,986 points as of spring 2007.

4.2 Retention of student learning study

This study sought to measure the amount of information and types of skills that students retained after they had taken one of the introductory statistics courses. The tool was a new version of the comprehensive final exam previously taken. Students also filled out a comprehensive questionnaire that provided background information to help interpret the results. The results of the exams were converted into a quantitative Òrelative lossÓ parameter—how much information and skill had the student lost? On average, the forty-eight students who took the retention exam had taken introductory statistics 2.5 years earlier. The results were analyzed to see which kinds of information and skill were lost or retained, and whether there was a correlation to the instructor, the year the course was taken, the final course grade, and gender.[2]

5. Capstone course and e-portfolios

5.1 Senior seminar

This is a year-long capstone course in which statistics majors demonstrate that they have met the disciplineÕs learning objectives. There is a three-fold assessment of

á student learning of basic statistical concepts

á [the] studentÕs ability to carry out research

á [the] studentÕs ability to communicate findings

The vehicle for this is the presentation of a seminar on a statistical topic, which, besides the expected research by the student, entails weekly meetings with the faculty supervisor, interviews and oral exams. The seminar, with its research and presentation components, is evaluated by statistics faculty, faculty from other disciplines, other senior seminar students, and external individuals related to the project. These evaluations are analyzed statistically.

5.2 E-portfolio

Statistics majors keep a University of Minnesota E-Portfolio, which generates an Òindividualized student learning profile.Ó[3] The profile characterizes students before enrollment at UMM, tracks their development as statisticians at UMM, and maintains a record of their professional lives after UMM.

6. Assessment driven actions

6.1 Driven by the need for effective communication

Past assessments Òshowed our students lacked the ability to communicate their findings correctly and effectively by using simple words that can be understood by non-statisticians,Ó[4] those in question being both general education students and majors. The disciplineÕs response was to implement the Media Reports Project[5] in conjunction with UMMÕs Center for Small Towns and UMMÕs External Relations unit.

6.2 Driven by the capstone course assessment

The
discipline has placed greater emphasis on the theory of statistics in higher
level courses, started the capstone project earlier, increased coverage of some
topics, and redesigned two courses. It is seeking ways to enhance student
learning in the areas of *critical* and
*independent thinking*.

6.3 Driven by the retention of student learning study

The discipline is just completing the statistical analysis of data from this new initiative.

6.4 Driven by the Technology Enhanced Learning survey

ÒThe discipline applied and received a grant to create a vertically and horizontally integrated technology enhanced learning environment...The project aims to respond to diverse ways of learning.Ó[6]

7. Improving student learning

The
most recent assessment identifies nine positive and three negative findings.
The discipline has used its accumulated findings to compare earlier and recent
statistics majors, 2003 being the dividing year. ÒIt is hypothesized that the
second [recent] stage would reflect the changes made based on the findings of
the assessment of student learning process.Ó[7]
A classification and regression tree analysis indicates improved student
learning especially in communicating statistical ideas effectively. There was
no statistically significant change in the *critical
thinking* and *independent thinking*
domains of the learning objectives.

General education categories spanned by the discipline

Statistics courses all bear the M/SR, mathematics/symbolic reasoning, general education designator with the exception of directed study, which bears none.