Undergraduate Researchers Share Tools To Help Students Understand Statistics

Statistic analysis is not always easy to understand, especially studying it remotely in the midst of a pandemic. Five undergraduate students at Pasadena City College designed and implemented a program to help their fellow students understand it better.

Initially, “Jupyter notebooks,” built by Project Jupyter, a non-profit, open-source project created in 2014, were to be introduced and used in chemistry lab courses. COVID-19 made it more difficult to use those lab notebooks so the project shifted, with a “new goal to provide students with the statistical analysis skills they would otherwise miss out on acquiring without the in-person lab component of their course. Statistical analysis is extremely important in all fields of STEM and a strong background in it truly helps students in their coursework,” undergraduate student and researcher Sophia Ibarguen said. 

Pasadena City College Chemistry professor, Dr. Jared Ashcroft, explained that these students were involved in creating and leading this research project Sophia Ibarguen, Janet Teng, Sophia Barber, Chloe Sharp, Alex Gonzalez, and Daisy Kim (four presented in the above video). As part of their efforts, they submitted their project to the National Conferences on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) that hosts an annual conference to celebrate and promote “undergraduate student achievement; provides models of exemplary research, scholarship, and creative activity; and helps to improve the state of undergraduate education.”

All of the students shared that, equally as important as presenting at a national conference, was the learning they gained from working together. 

“The best part of this project was the experience of learning how to work with fellow student researchers to create modules and assessments to help strengthen students’ understanding of different statistical analysis tools. The statistical analysis research project was the very first project I joined and it gave me a chance to learn how to work in a research group while also contributing independent work,” student and researcher Janet Teng said. 

Fellow student and researcher, Sophia Barber, shared a similar thought: “The connections I have made with the other members of the team, the invaluable support and mentorship I have received through working with Dr. Ashcroft, Dr. Chang, and Dr. Faltens, and the newfound passion for research I discovered while working on both this project and the hB-NPc project, which ultimately convinced me to pursue an MD/PhD. I am beyond grateful for being able to work on this project.”

As seen in the screenshots below, the students built methods and leveraged several platforms to make statistical analysis far more accessible for remote-learning but even for in-person classroom experiences as well. 

The research project used the following tools that educators and students can visit and use:

The initial motivation of helping their fellow students at Pasadena City College understand how to properly conduct statistical analysis was rewarded by strong results. Sophia Ibarguen summarized the project perfectly: 

“I think the best part of the project for me was the data analysis once each cohort of students had completed the modules. Seeing how the students’ scores increased each time and how their survey responses concerning statistical analysis also spoke more favorably of the subject provided me with instant gratification. Seeing how much our work helped our peers made all those months of early mornings and late nights completely worth it because it meant our work mattered, that we made even the smallest difference. That realization alone was priceless for me.”