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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Learning Design and Student Behavior in a Fully Online Course

Student’s behavior in an online course is strongly influenced by the learning design of the course, however there are not many discipline-focused studies investigating how students engage with the Learning Management System and course materials. This paper investigates an asynchronous and fully online introductory statistics course with a collaboration component (Collaborative Keys). This study evaluates how students use these and other resources, if they are being used as intended, and how the use is related to performance. We extend the educational analytics literature and introduce a new measure to quantify how students transition between resources, and we evaluate how these transitions differ by student performance over the course of an entire term. The results suggest that the use of course’s resources is related to student achievement, with higher performing students focusing on video-related resources and showing more consistency and effectiveness in their use of resources throughout the term.

Technology Innovations

Not just normal: Exploring power with Shiny apps

Statistical power is an important topic taught in most graduate-level and undergraduate-level mathematical statistics courses, but it is often difficult to understand conceptually. Visualizing the power curve, sampling distributions, and how they interact can help students more easily conceptualize power, but the creation of such visuals can be difficult and time-consuming. Interactive web applications provide a way for students to dynamically visualize power, and many web applications for understanding power exist. However, most of these applications assume samples are drawn from a Normal population, concern only the sample mean, and/or were created for introductory classes. In this paper, we describe a web application suitable for undergraduate-level and graduate-level mathematical statistics courses that was created to allow users to visualize the complex relationships underlying power for multiple different statistics and population distributions (available at; source code is provided for instructors who wish to modify the application. Our experience implementing this application across two different semesters is also discussed, and example activities are provided in the appendix.

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Building Interactive Tutorials for Teaching Psychological Statistics Online with learnr

Faculty are increasingly tasked with online teaching duties. This paper provides a how-to guide to using the learnr package for R. This package allows instructors to create seamless interactive tutorials that can use video, quizzes, and exercises run in R to foster student engagement and learning of statistics. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, more faculty than ever are teaching online. learnr tutorials provide a format that allows for greater student engagement with materials by providing opportunities to test knowledge and practice after viewing short videos on topics. I provide concrete instructions for developing learnr tutorials for teaching introductory statistics and provide insights from having applied these technologies for over a year. learnr is a tool that can assist instructors in leveraging valuable teaching opportunities afforded by the technology is a manner that requires only small changes in their more prevalent approaches to teaching online.