Promoting active learning when teaching introductory statistics and probability using a portfolio curriculum approach

Desmond Adair, Martin Jaeger, Owen M. Price

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The use of a portfolio curriculum approach, when teaching a university introductory statistics and probability course to engineering students, is developed and evaluated. The portfolio curriculum approach, so called, as the students need to keep extensive records both as hard copies and digitally of reading materials, interactions with faculty, interactions with other students and work they have completed on their own, is designed to encourage active learning, mainly in the areas of cooperation and collaboration. In order to investigate the effectiveness of the portfolio curriculum, a controlled experiment applying a pre-test-post-test control group design is conducted. Two tests are conducted, one before the commencement of the course (pre-test) and one after the completion of the course (post-test). The effectiveness is evaluated by comparing within-subject post-test and pre-test scores and by comparing the scores between subjects in the experimental group, i.e., those who learned using the portfolio curriculum approach and subjects in the control group, i.e., those who learned using a traditional method of teaching. In addition to analysis of the controlled experiment, a Survey of Attitudes Toward Statistics (SATS) was completed on the first and last day of the semester by the participants so as to give a measure of student confidence, understanding, liking, and difficulty of the portfolio curriculum approach as opposed to using a traditional method of teaching and learning. The findings of these investigations are reported and discussed, as are the merits and problems encountered regarding the methodology and student attitudes regarding the portfolio curriculum approach.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-188
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Higher Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2018


  • Active learning
  • Collaborative learning
  • Cooperative learning
  • Portfolio curriculum
  • Symbolic computation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Promoting active learning when teaching introductory statistics and probability using a portfolio curriculum approach'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this