Analysis of Assessment Data from Statistics Courses: Grade Distributions, Surface Learning and Threshold Concepts

25 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2011 Last revised: 6 Aug 2011

Date Written: July 20, 2011

Abstract

This technical report presents statistical analysis of summative assessment data (mid-term tests and final exams) collected from business statistics modules. The analysis showed that grade distributions tend to have two modes which in turn, suggests that a large group of learners exercised surface learning strategies while a smaller group exercised deep learning strategies. The phenomenon persisted under different formats of assessment and module organisation, and across two institutions.

The final part of the report summarises threshold concepts of statistics and quantitative analysis, as taught in business schools. The concepts were classified as basic, disciplinary and procedural. The classification helped to understand that the volume of procedural knowledge to be learned in statistics prevents from in-depth learning and passage through ‘a portal’ of disciplinary threshold concepts. A forced experiment to run a short course in statistics only reinforced the conclusion and posed irresolvable challenge because short courses and assessment cycles stimulate surface learning.

Indicative topic outlines that were developed through several iterations for both, long (one term) and short (half-term) introductory modules in statistics are presented in Appendices.

Keywords: threshold concept, assessment

Suggested Citation

Diamond, Richard V., Analysis of Assessment Data from Statistics Courses: Grade Distributions, Surface Learning and Threshold Concepts (July 20, 2011). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1890833 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1890833

Richard V. Diamond (Contact Author)

Fitch Group ( email )

30 North Colonnade
Canary Wharf
London, E14 5GN
United Kingdom

CQF Institute ( email )

55 Broad Street
New York, NY 10004
United States

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