Project-Based Learning Promotes Students' Perceived Relevance in an Engineering Statistics Course: A Comparison of Learning in Synchronous and Online Learning Environments

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Understanding statistics is essential for engineers. However, statistics courses remain challenging for many students, as they find them rigid, abstract, and demanding. Prior research has indicated that using project-based learning (PjBL) to demonstrate the relevance of statistics to students can have a significant effect on learning in these courses. Consequently, this study sought to explore the impact of a PjBL intervention on student perceptions of the relevance of engineering and statistics. The purpose of the intervention was to help students understand the connection between statistics and their academic majors, lives, and future careers. Four mini-projects connecting statistics to students' experiences and future careers were designed and implemented during a 16-week course and students' perceptions were compared to those of students who took a traditional statistics course. Students enrolled in the experimental group (a synchronous learning experience) and the control group (an online learning experience) were sent the same survey at the end of the semester. The survey results suggest that the PjBL intervention could potentially increase students' understanding of the usefulness of statistics and effectively enhance their perceptions of belonging to the engineering community. This study summarizes the results of this PjBL intervention, the limitations of the research design, and suggests implications for improving future statistics courses in the context of engineering.



Active learning, Engineering education, Experiential learning, Introductory statistics, Statistics education