University of South Carolina uses CodeGrade for Statistics programming courses
June 27, 2024

Course Spotlight: How to set up a Statistics Programming course

In 30 seconds...

Teaching statistical programming? Or just interested in what it takes to create a large-scale coding course? We spoke with Leslie Hendrix, Professor of Management Sciences at University of South Carolina, to find out what goes into crafting an effective programming course for hundreds of students.

We spoke with Leslie Hendrix, a Clinical Professor in the Management Science Department at the Darla Moore School of Business. She teaches a large-scale statistics course that sees approximately 1,700 students per academic year. Leslie tells us how she sets up a course of this size, offering a valuable framework for educators aiming to teach statistics to business students effectively.

Understanding the Course Structure

Hendrix's course is a second-level statistics class with a strong emphasis on interpreting outputs and gaining insights to enhance business profitability. According to Hendrix, the primary learning objectives include:

  • Building programming skills in R
  • Interpreting statistical outputs to make data-driven business decisions
  • Applying statistical methods to solve real-world business problems

"We want to send out students that aren’t afraid to try an algorithm in their future job and be able to have that sort of effect," Hendrix emphasizes.

Assessment methods

The course includes several assignments varied in type and length:

  • Homework Assignments: Approximately ten assignments, focusing on coding in R, designed to reinforce content from weekly lessons.
  • Case Studies: Four comprehensive projects integrating concepts from the homework assignments, allowing students to solve practical problems individually. These are untimed and with unlimited attempts to reinforce concepts.
  • Exams: Three multiple-choice quizzes, administered through Canvas, to assess understanding of statistical outputs and concepts without the stress of timed coding.

CodeGrade is used for assignments and case studies, giving students instant feedback. Leslie is looking into incorporating CodeGrade’s Interactive Quiz feature for exams in the upcoming iteration of her course.

See how CodeGrade can transform your business programming course today!

How students can succeed - and how to help

When asked how students can best succeed in her course, she emphasizes that "teaching coding is kind of like teaching a foreign language. It’s a language! Practice makes perfect. They have to try out coding on their own." This hands-on approach allows students to immerse themselves in coding, improving their skills through active practice.

Leslie structures her coding assignments to ensure students experience early success. She explains, "So just generally in teaching coding, I like to make their assignments so that they have a little feeling of success at least in the beginning to whet their appetite. So you can't have it so hard that they're frustrated from the very first question; you’ll kill their spirit."

By gradually increasing the difficulty of assignments while ensuring initial accomplishments, she fosters a positive learning experience. This approach not only motivates students but also prepares them for the challenges ahead in coding.

When it comes to feedback, Hendrix goes beyond suggesting improvements in code. She provides personalized feedback on lines of code, focusing not just on technical corrections but also on encouragement. Even a simple emoji can go a long way in motivating her students!

Current trends and advice for educators

To stay updated on the latest trends in statistics and teaching, Leslie actively participates in professional communities and attends conferences. She explains, "You have to say yes to those kinds of interactions. You have to make time for that kind of thing." In addition, she speaks to CodeGrade team members and learns how to incorporate new features to make assignments more effective.

Leslie emphasizes that your students should know that you care. “They’ll have the best experience and so will you!” she notes. Building rapport and trust with students enhances their learning journey.

She also stresses that putting yourself in the position of your students is a crucial strategy for any educator. “Whether it’s how you’re going to deliver a lecture, how you’re going to interact with them in the lecture, or for the test questions and test format, always put yourself in their shoes”.

But how can you get there?

Leslie believes interaction is the key. If you interact with your students enough, you can understand their perspective. These insights, when actively put into the setup of a course, can boost student success and teacher effectiveness.

In a nutshell

Leslie Hendrix's statistics course at the Darla Moore School of Business exemplifies a student-centered approach to learning. Through engaging assignments, personalized feedback, and a commitment to staying updated with industry trends, Hendrix fosters an environment where students not only learn statistical concepts but also gain practical skills for real-world application. Her dedication to student success and innovative teaching strategies make her course a valuable resource for aspiring analysts and future business leaders!

Evie Christopher

Evie Christopher

Head of Growth
Meet Evie, the powerhouse driving our business development. When she's not showcasing CodeGrade's top-notch quality to universities, she's keeping up with the latest Reality TV gossip.

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