Statistics instructors know that interesting, real-world problems are crucial to motivate student learning. As an extension of our efforts to build student interest and ownership in applications, we recently incorporated service learning into our statistics courses. Service learning provides an active-learning experience associated with a community service application. In this article we describe our experiences using service learning in our statistics courses. We give examples of projects used at the University of Minnesota-Morris, a public, liberal arts college.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The process began in 1995 with the preparation of the 10-year Comprehensive Plan for the City of Morris. As part of this plan, the city invited citizens to participate in focus groups on specific areas of town planning that interested them. These focus groups produced a report that reflected the desires and needs of the city. However, the City of Morris did not have the resources to obtain analysis of most of the issues important to citizens, such as demographics, the local economy, land use, housing, transportation systems, and many others. We decided that we could address some of the Comprehensive Plan issues in our courses. Our experience with the City of Morris led us to consider other community agencies that might benefit from our services. In subsequent courses we have been able to implement projects for the Morris Wetland Management District, the Morris Soil and Water Conservation District, and the University of Minnesota, Morris. Our first attempts at incorporating service learning were supported by a grant from Minnesota Campus Compact. This grant was crucial to the early development of these
- Active learning
- Service learning
- Statistical education