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Statistics Education Project Wins Grand Prize in NSF Competition

1 July 2019 655 views No Comment

From left: Karen Marrongelle of the National Science Foundation, Lee Zia of the National Science Foundation, Dennis Pearl of The Pennsylvania State University, Lawrence Lesser of The University of Texas at El Paso, Robert Carey of The Pennsylvania State University, and Anne Kinney of the National Science Foundation Photo by Christopher Coox/NSF

    Project SMILES, a statistics education research team, received a $3,000 grand prize in the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) inaugural We Are Mathematics Video Competition during a ceremony at the NSF in May.

    Project SMILES is a $321,000 three-institution NSF EAGER (DUE) grant to develop and assess interactive songs for learning introductory statistics. Principal investigators for the grant are Dennis Pearl of Penn State, Lawrence Lesser of The University of Texas at El Paso, and John Weber of Perimeter College at Georgia State.

    Soliciting three-minute videos about NSF-funded projects in the mathematical sciences, the We Are Mathematics Video Competition aimed to bring content to life in a way that can help break down barriers for those who may not understand what it means to conduct research in the mathematical sciences.

    Professionals from all major mathematical sciences organizations conducted two rounds of judging for the competition. They were looking for creativity, clarity/accuracy of mathematical concepts/ideas, communication of mathematics in an accessible/exciting way, and artistic/technical quality. Winning videos were screened this May at the biennial National Math Festival, organized by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in cooperation with the Institute for Advanced Study and the National Museum of Mathematics and attended by some 20,000 people.

    Project SMILES (Student-Made Interactive Learning with Educational Songs) created (and launched in May 2018) an online collection of 28 high-quality songs designed to span learning objectives of introductory statistics. The songs are interactive in that the interface solicits and provides feedback on student contributions. It then plays back the song with student input integrated with a synthetic voice and highlighted in scrolling lyrics. Pilot studies showed songs helped reduce anxiety and increase engagement with material. They were also found to be relevant to learning. Randomized experiment data were collected at two- and four-year institutions to further assess the effectiveness of the intervention.

    Take a look at the project video and songs on CAUSEweb.

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