About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 1366-1376
Publication year: 2010
ISBN: 978-84-613-5538-9
ISSN: 2340-1079

Conference name: 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 8-10 March, 2010
Location: Valencia, Spain

POSTGRADUATE LED ENVIRONMENT INTRODUCING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TO AUTHENTIC APPLIED STATISTICAL RESEARCH

K. O'Sullivan, J. O'Mullane

University College Cork (IRELAND)
In this paper we present our experiences in developing the project “Applied Postgraduate Led Authentic Undergraduate Statistics Environment” (APLAUSE), which aims to engage undergraduate students in meaningful, authentic research in the area of statistics. Research studies have shown that undergraduate students like to hear about their lecturers’ research, but when given the choice, they prefer to be involved in that research. Embedding authentic research into the undergraduate curriculum is seen as an essential ingredient to smooth the transition to postgraduate studies, the workplace and active citizenship.

The APLAUSE project provides an authentic research experience by introducing students to the ways that statistics are used to solve real world problems. In the project, teams of students formulate a research question, design a questionnaire, collect and analyse the data, write a report and present a poster. The structure of the report follows that of an academic publication, in which they describe the problem considered, the background literature read, the approach taken, the results that have been obtained, and the questions motivated by the research. In this way APLAUSE adopts the colleague model of undergraduate research, in which students take a significant role in all phases of the research.

In general, the students enter the APLAUSE project without specific work experience and must receive technical training in order to be able to perform the more technical tasks required in statistical research. During the course of the project the undergraduate student teams have access to support from a helpdesk staffed by research students in Statistics, overseen by staff of the School of Mathematical Sciences in University College Cork. The students are also given training in the use of statistical packages for data analysis in hands-on practical sessions. In addition, APLAUSE participants have access to an online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) to provide support outside of helpdesk hours. The VLE hosts content captured from the interactions between undergraduate students and members of the helpdesk team, using a variety of media, such as video, audio and text.

Undergraduate students benefit from the APLAUSE programme through interacting with research students and staff in a peer environment and by developing professional skills in communication at several levels, including reading, writing, speaking, and listening; problem formulation as an interactive, evolutionary process; and the ability to work with a diverse team.

The project is funded by NAIRTL (National Academy for the Integration of Research in Teaching and Learning) as a pilot project for the 2009/10 Academic Year, as part of an existing “Introduction to Biostatistics” module. We anticipate that the resources consolidated in the VLE will be incorporated into other courses on a University-wide basis.

We report on our experiences in identifying the aspects of APLAUSE project which were successful and the feedback gathered from the students regarding their experiences and the resources which would be needed in order to scale the project to a full University-wide deployment.
@InProceedings{OSULLIVAN2010POS,
author = {O'Sullivan, K. and O'Mullane, J.},
title = {POSTGRADUATE LED ENVIRONMENT INTRODUCING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TO AUTHENTIC APPLIED STATISTICAL RESEARCH},
series = {4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference},
booktitle = {INTED2010 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-5538-9},
issn = {2340-1079},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Valencia, Spain},
month = {8-10 March, 2010},
year = {2010},
pages = {1366-1376}}
TY - CONF
AU - K. O'Sullivan AU - J. O'Mullane
TI - POSTGRADUATE LED ENVIRONMENT INTRODUCING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TO AUTHENTIC APPLIED STATISTICAL RESEARCH
SN - 978-84-613-5538-9/2340-1079
PY - 2010
Y1 - 8-10 March, 2010
CI - Valencia, Spain
JO - 4th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
JA - INTED2010 Proceedings
SP - 1366
EP - 1376
ER -
K. O'Sullivan, J. O'Mullane (2010) POSTGRADUATE LED ENVIRONMENT INTRODUCING UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS TO AUTHENTIC APPLIED STATISTICAL RESEARCH, INTED2010 Proceedings, pp. 1366-1376.
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