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Gerald (J.T.) Haun Psy’10, along with Adrienne Gallo Psy’10, was named the winner of the 2009 Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition at the United States Conference on Teaching Statistics at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, on June 26. JT was awarded the $750 first-place prize award for his work with Adrienne on the paper titled Hierarchical Linear Modeling of the Effects of Self-Reflection Strategies on Mood. In addition, Ralph M. Turner, PhD, University of the Sciences Department of Behavioral and Social Sciences faculty member, was awarded the 2009 first-place trophy for top undergraduate statistics mentor for his work with JT and Adrienne.
The Consortium for the Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education (CAUSE), which is a sub-section of the American Statistical Association’s Section on Statistics Education, holds the yearly USCOTS meeting. CAUSE’s goal is to improve the quality of undergraduate statistics education, and more than 1000 educators from across the world attend the exciting and lively yearly meeting.
The yearly Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition is a part of CAUSE’s efforts to spur improvement in undergraduate statistics education and to excite undergraduate students’ interest in statistics. The purpose of the contest is to encourage the development of data analysis skills, to enhance presentation skills, and to recognize outstanding work in statistical analysis by undergraduate statistics students. The competition is open to any undergraduate student globally and there were more than 250 entries this year. Projects are judged based on appropriateness and correctness of data collection (such as design of the study, methods for collecting data, data cleansing and manipulations, etc.), appropriateness and correctness of data analysis methods (both descriptive and inferential), appropriateness and correctness of conclusions and discussion, and overall clarity and presentation of the submitted paper, power point slide show, and presentation at the meeting. In addition, the originality and importance of the project and creative analysis are weighted heavily in the judging. JT had to give a formal presentation of his work at the meeting as a part of the competition—as did the other finalists from UCLA, St. Olaf’s College, and the Statistical Institute of India.
The project JT submitted to the Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition was based on a randomized controlled experiment Adrienne and he conducted in Dr. Turner’s SS 221/222 Research Design and Statistics course in the fall and spring semesters of the 2007/2008 academic year. The purpose of their study was to determine the relative effectiveness of two positive psychology-based self-regulation treatments in enhancing positive mood, when compared to a placebo control condition and to map the initial trajectory of mood increases resulting from the active treatments. They randomly assigned 78 participants to one of three treatment conditions: (BPS) imagining one’s best possible self, (EG) expressing gratitude for the good things in one’s life, or the placebo control condition that involved participants’ writing about the details of their typical morning routine. Their findings showed that the BPS and EG strategies were more effective than the placebo condition and that participants’ mood increased in a similar response trajectory for both of the active treatments. The growth trajectories for positive mood suggest BP and EG begin to work immediately and progress in a quadratic trajectory in the short-term. Their results parallel previous studies that have supported the use of self-regulation techniques as a mechanism for increasing positive affect.
During the 2008/2009 academic year, JT took two graduate statistics courses with Dr. Turner and completed the more advanced Hierarchical Linear Modeling Analysis of the data from the experiment in an independent study with Dr. Turner. It was this analysis of the data that won first prize in the Undergraduate Statistics Project Competition.
Winning this prestigious award speaks highly of JT and Adrienne’s work and the quality of statistical training at University of the Sciences.