Introductory Statistics Flexible Learning Project

ISFL brings together experienced introductory statistics instructors from Science, Arts, and the School of Population and Public Health to develop, adapt and use instructional resources that address conceptually challenging topics in introductory statistics. The resources are open, adaptable, consistent in look and feel, and grounded in existing research on learning and statistics.


Introductory statistics is taught in many departments at UBC and the difficulties students encounter are common across campus. Research confirms observations that students have difficulty understanding abstract topics like sampling distributions and their role in inference. Research is also identifying pedagogical approaches that can help students overcome these difficulties. In practice, however, current statistics education research may not be widely accessed, and effective instructional resources are not easily shared across departments and faculties.


ISFL is designed to make the abstract ideas of sampling distributions and their role in inference more concrete to students. The resources produced will enable students’ engagement with these statistics concepts, scaffold their learning through quick feedback and structured guidance, and ground it in relevant, real-world applications. The short-term benefits of this project will emerge with the individual resources and be experienced by students in our project team’s courses.

  • To develop and use a vetted collection of high-quality open educational modular resources to enhance students’ comprehension of core concepts in introductory statistics
  • To support faculty members who are not statistics experts in adapting and integrating the developed resources into their statistics instruction

Outcomes and impact

  • Our evaluation of existing resources identified a need for simulations that clearly express their learning objectives and that provide guiding questions for learners and use-examples for instructors. Further, many existing statistics simulations rely on Java, making them difficult to use. The project team developed simulations that meet these needs, are open, and are adaptable using HTML5. STATSims will allow students to ‘play with and visualize abstract statistical concepts. There development drew from research-based best-practices published by the University of Colorado Boulder’s physics interactive simulations (PhET) group, and each simulation was refined through 1:1 think-aloud interviews with student users.
  • Three videos give instructors and TAs the flexibility to focus their face-to-face time working through IE activities and questions rather than conveying information. They will also be available for students to re-visit at their convenience.
  • More than 100 new conceptual questions in the open-source web application WeBWorK, which provides individualized online math homework and quizzes with automatic feedback. WeBWorKiR gives students immediate feedback and frees TA time from grading computational work.
  • By collecting, curating, developing, and enhancing the UBC pool of Interactive Engagement questions and relevant classroom activities, ISFL will reduce duplication of instructor’s efforts and increase the consistency of students’ experiences with introductory statistics instruction across campus.
  • STATSpace materials from this project will be available to all instructors through an accessible digital content management system.

Skylight’s contribution

Skylight facilitated this project’s proposal and team development, and provides ongoing strategic and tactical support to ISFL leadership. Skylight also led the development of STATSpace and its integration with the UBC Library, UBC CTLT and UBC IT.

Websites and resources