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

Hope sophomore Elly DeNeef of Hamilton earned the award in the Fall 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 earlier this month for entries from the fall 2019 semester, is in the Introductory Statistics portion of the competition.  Her 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.

DeNeef was recognized for her project “Influence of Brand Name on Preference,” which she pursued during the fall 2019 Introductory Statistics class taught by Todd Swanson, associate professor of mathematics and statistics.  She conducted her study via taste tests using two brands of peanut butter, one better known than the other, concealing the brand names from one group of students and providing the brand names along with the samples for a second group of students.  She found that brand awareness made a difference, with preference being about the same when the brands were unknown but preference for the well-known brand being higher when the brands were known.

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

End-of-semester projects, pursued individually or in groups, 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 individual or 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-science 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.