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Landmark College Researchers Bring Study Results to New Orleans

Posted: Mar 03 2014

Contact: Mark DiPietro 802.387.1632 Email Mark DiPietro

Transformational initiative seeks to make statistics courses more effective for all students

by Madeline Bergstrom

NEW ORLEANS, La. - Dr. Ibrahim Dahlstrom-Hakki and Dr. Michelle Bower gave a TED-style presentation on Tuesday, February 4, 2014, at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Annual Meeting in New Orleans. The presentation was titled Making Data Accessible to Diverse Populations of Students and was based on work funded by a National Science Foundation Research in Disabilities Education (NSF RDE) grant focused on improving introductory statistics courses for students who learn differently. The two presenters shared their research, which involved using TinkerPlots software as a tool for teaching statistics.

Now that the research phase of the grant is complete, Dahlstrom-Hakki and Bower (pictured here with their research poster) are focused on sharing their results as widely as possible. Dahlstrom-Hakki said, “We believe the approach we used tends to work better not only for our students but for the general student population, and the data backs that up.” In the courses that he and Bower tested, students interacted with real-world data as soon as possible. They were encouraged to develop gut feelings and intuitions about the data, then to transition those gut feelings and intuitions into formal statistical understanding. “Students learn better and better understand statistical concepts when they engage in real data collection and analysis,” Bower explained.

TinkerPlots is an interactive data visualization software program that has proven highly effective in helping students to engage with data in meaningful ways. Bower and Dahlstrom-Hakki agreed that dynamic software like TinkerPlots can help to improve statistical literacy for all learners. “We need to see more tools that make data intuitive, easy, and natural for people to consume,” Dahlstrom-Hakki said.

At the conference, Dahlstrom-Hakki and Bower had the opportunity to interact with colleagues, share ideas, and witness innovative educational uses for new technologies, including Google Glass and 3D printers. They got to share their results with an audience they might not otherwise encounter, making connections both formal and informal. And since the conference was in New Orleans, Bower added, “I had some great food!”

Dahlstrom-Hakki holds a Ph.D. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is a Research and Education Specialist in the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT). Bower is the Chair of the Mathematics and Computer Science Department. She received a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Illinois State University.

Landmark College was the first institution of higher learning to pioneer college-level studies for students with dyslexia. Today Landmark College, offering two and four-year degree options, a graduate-level certificate in universal design with technology integration, and summer programs for students who learn differently, is a global leader in integrated teaching methods for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities, ADHD, and ASD. Students, faculty, and other professionals from all over the world are drawn to Landmark College for its innovative educational model—designed through research and practice to help all students who learn differently become confident, self-empowered, and independently successful learners.

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