The study was conducted at three City University of New York (CUNY) community colleges, one in each of three NYC boroughs: the Bronx, Queens and Manhattan.
Across all three groups, 55% of students were female (55% in Stat-WS, 58% in EA-WS, and 51% in EA), and 86% of students were underrepresented minorities (84% in Stat-WS, 88% in EA-WS, and 87% in EA). In each of the three groups, the majority of students (56%) reported that their first language was English. The average age of study participants was 21 years old.
The intervention (Stat-WS) was a mainstream, credit-bearing, college-level introductory statistics course (Stat-WS), delivered in the fall of 2013. Course topics included probability, binomial probability distributions, normal distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The course was held over one semester and lasted between 3 and 6 hours per week, depending on the college. The course required students to attend a two-hour workshop every week for supplemental instruction on statistical concepts and problems. The workshops had three components: (1) 10-15 minutes of reflection on concepts learned so far and what was difficult; (2) about 100 minutes of individual and group work on difficult topics and problems, and (3) a final five minutes of reflection on whether the difficult issues were addressed or not. The 24 class sections that included workshops were taught by 21 workshop leaders, who were either advanced undergraduates or recent graduates of CUNY.
The primary comparison group was a traditional non-credit-bearing remedial algebra course that included supplemental weekly workshops (EA-WS). The course covered topics such as linear equations, exponents, polynomials, and quadratic equations. Students in both comparison groups took the mandatory CUNY-wide elementary final and received their grade based on a CUNY-wide elementary algebra-grading rubric. The weekly workshops delivered to the EA-WS group followed the same three-component structure implemented for the workshops in the intervention group.
Support for implementation
Instructors attended a six-hour orientation workshop, met monthly with researchers, and met weekly with the workshop leaders assigned to their two sections (Stat-WS and EA-WS). The study’s 21 workshop leaders completed 10 hours of training focused on the details of the study as well as methods for conducting the workshops. Workshop leaders also met monthly with the researchers to discuss concerns and other issues as needed.