A Hope College student project has won third place in a biannual national statistics competition, continuing a tradition of strong finishes in the event by the college’s students.

Hope juniors Sally Hakim of Naperville, Illinois, and Aidan Piwnicki of Manhattan, Illinois earned the award in the Spring 2019 Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition (USPROC) sponsored by the Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE) and the American Statistical Association (ASA).  The recognition, announced near the end of August for entries from the spring 2019 semester, is in the Introductory Statistics portion of the competition.  Their paper is featured on the CAUSE website and will soon be announced along with the other winners in the Amstat News journal published by the American Statistical Association.

Hakim and Piwnicki were honored for their project “A Study on the Immediate Impacts of Product Placement on Consumer Choices,” which they pursued during the spring 2019 Introductory Statistics class taught by Todd Swanson, associate professor of mathematics.  They examined whether or not seeing a product in a television segment had an immediate impact on individuals’ preference for that product.  While their study did not find a significant effect, they note in their report that a larger and more random sample (they surveyed 34 students in one location) would be necessary to accurately determine what would likely be a small difference.

Hope students have been honored in the national competition eight times in the past three years.  In addition to Hakim’s and Piwnicki’s third-place award, past Hope groups earned three first-place awards, a second-place award, another third-place award and two honorable mentions.

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 study, collecting the data and reviewing relevant literature, and analyzing the data and drawing conclusions from it, including considering possibilities for follow-up or improvement. Each team also makes an oral presentation in class regarding the research in addition to writing a paper about it.

CAUSE and the American Statistical Association organize USPROC to encourage the development of statistics and data-analysis skills, to enhance presentation skills and to recognize outstanding work by undergraduate statistics and data-science students. In addition to the Undergraduate Statistics Class Project Competition for students in introductory and intermediate 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.