Seven Things Students Want Faculty to Know About Learning Statistics Online

Concurrent Session 4

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

As more students choose hybrid and online courses, the focus of empirical research has to include an exploration about how students process information and learn online. One recent case study addressed students’ views about how faculty can design and deliver online introductory statistics courses to reduce barriers to learning.


Dr. Ruth Best currently serves as Director of the Office of Clinical Practice in the Graduate School of Education at Touro College, New York. She is also as an Assistant Professor and a member of the Graduate Faculty Council. Ruth previously held the dual roles of Dean of Faculty Development & Instructional Design and Assistant Professor, Business Administration and General Education at The College of Westchester. She was responsible for overseeing the Online Division’s operations including curriculum development, instructional design, faculty development, and training. Ruth also served as the Quality Matters Institutional Representative, Trainer, and Certified Peer Reviewer. In recent years, she has worked in a part-time capacity, as an Online Group Facilitator, in collaboration with a Course Coordinator, to deliver instruction for students enrolled in the Graduate Management Programme at the University of the West Indies Open Campus. This lifelong learner recently completed a doctoral program specializing in Teacher Leadership. She also holds a Master of Science in Education, Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Financial Management, Bachelors of Science in Business Administration, and Associates of Occupational Studies in Business Administration and Accounting. For the past three years, she presented at the Annual Distance Teaching and Learning Conference in Madison, WI on topics relating to learning effectiveness in hybrid and online courses.

Extended Abstract

Statistics education is changing because of innovative technological approaches, which allow students to access learning through course management systems such as Blackboard, Moodle, Sakai, and other learning platforms. As a result, researchers seek to understand how students master and retain statistical concepts and how faculty contribute to the learning process (Acee & Weinstein, 2010; Everson & Garfield, 2008; Fairfield-Sonn, Kolluri, Rogers, & Singamsetti, 2009; Hassad, 2011; Kohli, Peng, & Mittal, 2011; Kreiner, 2006; Ward 2004).

During the first four years of faculty launching an online statistics course, students at a private college in northeastern New York demonstrated marginal academic performance. The faculty believed that the students were not adequately prepared and lacked the prerequisite math skills. To fulfill the requirements of my doctoral program, I conducted a qualitative case study at the college and collected data from a purposive sampling of participants to address the following questions:

  1. What is the nature of teaching and learning statistics in an online format?
  2. What are faculty and students' perspectives about the statistics curriculum design and online learning experience? 
  3. What are the barriers to learning and academic achievement in online statistics courses?
  4. What pre-requisite skills do students need to meet the learning outcomes of statistics courses?

Semi-structured interviews conducted with 2 faculty and 4 students revealed technical and affective barriers to learning statistics in a distance-learning format. Based on the data collected from the interviews, archival data, and artifacts, a variety of factors influenced student performance in online statistics courses; including fear and anxiety, time management, accessibility, and the students' prerequisite skill set in math, technology, and communication.

The data analysis produced the following seven takeaways about online statistics courses:

  1. Learning statistics online is a challenge.
  2. Students want instructors who understand how students learn best.
  3. Students need to engage in experiential learning experiences.
  4. Students want immediate feedback on work submitted.
  5. Students want to feel the instructor's presence within the virtual environment.
  6. Students want to understand the relevance of their academics to real world activities.
  7. Students want inclusive, culturally relevant, and developmentally appropriate learning environments.  

Reducing the barriers to learning statistics at a distance will require ongoing faculty development and training geared towards shrinking any pedagogical learning curves, improving curriculum design, increasing social, cognitive, and teaching presence, while expanding academic performance in online statistics courses.

The focus of statistics education will need to shift from computational and procedural fluency to conceptual understanding and statistical reasoning as faculty become familiar with the Guidelines for Instruction and Assessment in Statistics Education (GAISE) (Aliaga et al., 2012). Furthermore, faculty will have to embrace technological advances, while exploring different ways of designing and delivering instruction to initiate change and improvements that lead to student success.

This presentation will highlight the findings and recommendations from a qualitative case study that examined faculty and students’ perspectives about the nature of an online introductory business statistics course. Attendees will get an opportunity to engage in an interactive session as we discuss the seven key takeaways  about students' experiences and views about learning statistics course in an online or hybrid format. Attendees will leave with ideas about how to improve the level of engagement and performance in online courses and how to create learner centered virtual environments. The ultimate goal is continuous improvement and positive social change as faculty and instructional designers develop and implement online courses that allow students equal access and mastery of the online content.


Acee, T.W., & Weinstein, C.E. (2010). Effects of value-reappraisal intervention on statistics students’ motivation and performance. The Journal of Experimental Education, 78, 487-512.

Aliaga, M., Cobb, G., Cuff, C., Garfield, J., Gould, R., Lock, R., Moore, T., Rossman, A., Stephenson, B., Utts, J., Velleman, P., Witmer, J. (2012). College report: Guidelines for assessment and instruction in statistics education. Alexandria, VA: American Statistical Association.

Everson, M.G. & Garfield, J. (2008). An innovative approach to teaching online statistics courses. Technology Innovations in Statistics Education, 2(1), 1 – 18.

Fairfield-Sonn, J. W., Kolluri, B., Rogers, A., & Singamsetti, R. (2009). Enhancing an undergraduate business statistics course: Linking teaching and learning with assessment issues. American Journal of Business Education, 2(7), 101 – 112.

Hassad, R. A. (2011). Constructivist and behaviorist approaches: Development and initial evaluation of a teaching practice scale for introductory statistics at the college level. Numeracy, 4(2), doi: 10.5038/1936-4660.4.2.7.

Kohli, A.S., Peng, C., & Mittal, P. (2011). Predictors of student success in undergraduate business statistics course. Journal of the Academy of Business & Economics, 11(4), 33 – 42.

Kreiner, D. S. (2006), A Mastery-based approach to teaching statistics online, International Journal of Instructional Media, 33, 73-79.

Tishkovskaya, S. & Lancaster, G.A. (2012). Statistical education in the 21st Century: A review of challenges, teaching innovations and strategies for reform. Journal of Statistics Education 20, (2). Retrieved from

Ward, B. (2004). The best of both worlds: A hybrid statistics course. Journal of Statistics Education, 12(3). Retrieved from