Statistics research projects conducted by two teams of Hope College students have earned first and third place in a national competition.

Both have been honored in the 2017-18 Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition (USPROC) of the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) and the American Statistical Association (ASA). The awards, announced near the end of August for entries from the spring 2018 season, are in the Undergraduate Statistics Class Project Competition portion of USPROC.

Senior Alyssa Goodwin of Farmington Hills, senior Samuel Heilman of Grosse Ile and junior Leah Krudy of Midland won first place for “Effects of Color on Heart Rate.”  Senior Maya Smith of Southfield and sophomore Lauren Cutler of East Lansing won third place for “Tuition to Test Scores: A Statistical Analysis.”  Both teams pursued the projects during the spring 2018 accelerated introductory statistics class, Statistical Methods, taught by Dr. Yew-Meng Koh, assistant professor of mathematics.

The winning projects are featured on the CAUSE website and will be announced in the monthly Amstat News Journal published by the ASA.  As first-place winners, Goodwin, Heilman and Krudy may also be invited to give a virtual plenary talk during the 2018 Electronic Undergraduate Statistics Research Conference (eUSR) on Friday, Nov. 2.

“Effects of Color on Heart Rate” had 27 students write similar paragraphs onto both white paper and red paper, finding that the change in heart-rate after the activity was significantly higher with red paper than with white.  The result of color making a difference mirrored what the student researchers had found in studies that others had conducted in 1966, 1997 and 2000 regarding the effects of color in other situations.

“Tuition to Test Scores: A Statistical Analysis” surveyed a total of 33 students to determine if there was a relationship between the amount of tuition that they financed themselves and their grade point average.  Grouping students into four categories (zero; small, meaning 1-25%; medium, meaning 26-99%; and all), the study found that GPA increased as the percentage the students paid themselves increased until students were paying the entire cost, at which point it declined.

In addition to sharing the purpose and results of the experiments, the students’ reports described the methods they used and considered possibilities for follow-up or improvement.  For example, each report noted that the small sample sizes potentially limited the significance of the results.

End-of-semester group projects have been a part of the Introductory Statistics course at Hope for several years. The students develop their own projects, with the assignment including designing their experiment, collecting the data and reviewing relevant literature, as well as analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from it. The teams also make oral presentations regarding their research in addition to writing a paper about it.

CAUSE and the American Statistical Association organize USPROC to encourage the development of data analysis skills, to enhance presentation skills and to recognize outstanding work by undergraduate statistics students. In addition to the Undergraduate Statistics Class Project Competition for students in applied statistics courses, USPROC includes an Undergraduate Statistics Research Project Competition for undergraduates who have conducted research projects that are statistically related but are not based on a statistics course.