1. Dennis Pearl
  2. Professor
  3. Project SMILES: Student Made Interactive Learning with Educational Songs
  4. www.CAUSEweb.org/smiles
  5. Pennsylvania State University
  1. Lawrence Lesser
  2. http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/index.html
  3. Professor
  4. Project SMILES: Student Made Interactive Learning with Educational Songs
  5. www.CAUSEweb.org/smiles
  6. University of Texas at El Paso
  1. John Weber III
  2. Assistant Professor
  3. Project SMILES: Student Made Interactive Learning with Educational Songs
  4. www.CAUSEweb.org/smiles
  5. Georgia State University, Perimeter College
Public Discussion
  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 02:19 p.m.

    Thanks for viewing our presentation -- we hope it brought you SMILES! We'd love your feedback about anything that stood out to you and about how you specifically might want to use our resources or approach in your teaching.  We also are interested in any questions or concerns you may have. The resource itself has just been released (at https://www.causeweb.org/smiles/) and we're starting to analyze data we've collected from randomized experiments at two- and four-year colleges during this just-completed school year to assess its effectiveness.

  • May 13, 2018 | 05:39 p.m.

    I really enjoyed your video. Have you found that some topics are easier to teach with songs than others?

    Doris

     
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    Jessica Chapman
  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 08:12 p.m.

    Thank you, Doris! Some topics are definitely harder to write songs about than others and before our project there were several topics that had probably never before been the focus of a song. As for effectiveness with students, we're still analyzing data, but results may end up showing an effect by things in addition to the topic of the song, such as the role of the song (i.e., whether the song is being used to recall facts/procedures, introduce a concept, synthesize and apply knowledge to a context, etc.), the genre of the song, the length of the song, etc.

     
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    Jessica Chapman
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    Ron Eglash

    Researcher
    May 13, 2018 | 06:51 p.m.

    Brilliant idea to put the song selection in the hands (and ears!) of the learners. Have you tried allowing students to listen to different probability distributions? We found percussion ratios useful for teaching least common multiple: windows version here: https://csdt.rpi.edu/culture/legacy/latino/rhyt...

     
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    Jessica Chapman
  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 08:20 p.m.

    Thank you, Ron!  We haven't used sonification (e.g., this example) in this project.  That said, our interactive song "Central Limit Theorem" has students reflect on different distribution shapes and near the end of our song "Chi-squared Dance" is a lyric line ("The chi-squared distribution has a long right tail") whose melody follows the contour of that distribution's right tail.  Interestingly, one of our PIs (Dennis Pearl) was also a PI on a major project on probability distributions.

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 08:35 p.m.

    Ron,

    If you are interested in sonification, then you might want to check out the work of Judy Twedt from University of Washington. She gave a presentation on using music to depict data at the recent VOICES conference that we sponsored.  VOICES is an interdisciplinary initiative on using song in STEM teaching.  see https://www.causeweb.org/voices/

  • Icon for: E Whaley

    E Whaley

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 10:23 a.m.

    Impressive. Delightful.

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:33 a.m.

    Thanks for the kind words.  One goal of the project is to lessen students' anxiety about statistics and quantitative evidence generally.  We are hoping what you describe as "delightful" has that result.

  • Icon for: Jessica Chapman

    Jessica Chapman

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 10:51 a.m.

    This is so neat! (And thanks for sharing the link to your site with the song libraries!). I'd be interested in trying to incorporate some of these into my introductory statistics course. Would you have any advice about doing so? (It's a traditional intro course with a mixture of lecture and activities taught in a computer classroom.) How would you recommend having students do this in and out of class? Thanks! :)

  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 11:19 a.m.

    Thanks for your interest, Jessica! SMILES songs have been used in courses with diverse delivery modes.  A teacher could do it during a live lecture in any size classroom by having students use clickers to vote on responses to fixed-choice questions and having students text or call out suggestions for the open-ended questions.  Or students could each be in front of a computer with earbuds or headphones.  Or a teacher could assign particular songs for the students to access at home as homework.  We're actually giving a 2-hour virtual workshop on Project SMILES pedagogy on Thursday May 24 at 11am Eastern, as part of a week-long virtual conference on teaching statistics that you can register for here. Also, we're working to create more supplementary resources for instructors on the SMILES website to address not only different course formats but also provide information about how their students performed on the prompts, offer sample assessment items, offer tips on creating interactive songs, etc.). We also plan to create a faculty community of instructors using SMILES so we can get good feedback and learn from each other and we launched the VOICES initiative to gain insight into alternative ways that song can have a positive effect on learning across disciplines.

  • Icon for: Stacey Hancock

    Stacey Hancock

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 14, 2018 | 04:27 p.m.

    Love it! Do you have the sheet music or guitar tab available for teachers that might want to sing the songs themselves?

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 04:38 p.m.

    Interesting point Stacey.  Yes - we do have the score for the songs that have original music. We can definitely add that to the list of supplementary resources for instructors.

  • Icon for: Louis Gross

    Louis Gross

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 05:44 p.m.

    Dennis, John and Larry, Great intro to the SMILES project and I enjoyed learning more about how this project is proceeding. Can you tell us whether others have tried out the interface to potentially create interactive songs in other areas? For example are there others involved in VOICES using the same interface? 

    Cheers,

           Lou

  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 06:10 p.m.

    Thanks, Lou! Actually, three of our SMILES songs were written by the 2017 VOICES chair, biology professor Greg Crowther. Because of how common statistics enrollment (one million students each year) and statistics anxiety is, we wanted to start with a collection of songs that did a good job spanning the topics of introductory statistics.  Because that content domain overlaps with many disciplines in the natural and social sciences, we expect a variety of instructors to start using our collection and one way we hope to measure impact is by following the number of instructors seeking login credentials to the SMILES site and watch the analytics on the site data to see how many sessions are launched, how many songs are used, and how those change over time. We feel SMILES are contagious and our approach certainly can be used to write interactive songs in those other content areas (with the statistics parts of those areas being a natural bridge to introduce the SMILES approach), and we're happy to share our process (via workshops, articles, etc.) with interested folks to support that. One thing we'll discuss at our VOICES meeting next month in Denver is what it would take to compile and consolidate such song-in-STEM resources, as well as STEM song databases (e.g., CAUSE and Crowther's databases).

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 10:02 p.m.

    Thanks Lou.  To add a couple points to Larry's response...

    Anytime you get students being more active and the instructors doing less lecturing, you are bound to have more successful learning.  So I think the idea of making songs interactive is generally very favorably received in the VOICES community.  Of course, there are a variety of opinions about the best way to do that so we will probably see more adaptations than adoptions of our work.

    Also, we did write a paper (in review) on the process involved in creating the  songs so that others can hit the ground running if they want to try out the general idea in their discipline.  

  • Icon for: Louis Gross

    Louis Gross

    Facilitator
    May 16, 2018 | 01:30 p.m.

    Dennis and Larry, Thanks for the updates on the project and I look forward to seeing the paper on the process of song creation - a topic about which a lot of people are interested!

  • Icon for: M. Alejandra Sorto

    M. Alejandra Sorto

    Associate Professor
    May 15, 2018 | 10:13 a.m.

    Love it!!!

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 11:13 a.m.

    Thanks Alejandra.  Let us know if you want instructor log-in credentials to the SMILES materials so you can see the assessment items we use in our randomized experiments to gauge their effectiveness. (the link for that is on the project homepage).

  • Icon for: Courtney Arthur

    Courtney Arthur

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 01:20 p.m.

    Such an amazing platform for students to learn often difficult materials. I wondered if you found this helpful with ELL learners or those who struggled with vocabulary and learning?

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:34 p.m.

    Interesting point Courtney.  We have a large number of English as a Second Language students at Georgia State University where we've done a good deal of our field testing.  Because of that, we made a special effort to use appropriate vocabulary in our student prompts to avoid ambiguities for that group.  

    We have also wondered about cultural effects in our music choices and, based on feedback from our advisory board, have been trying recently to broaden the playlist to provide more music genres.

  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 01:37 p.m.

    To add to Dennis' thoughts: While we haven't had a chance to get results on this for Project SMILES, my overall work on ELL/language issues in math/statistics education gives me several reasons to believe our interactive songs could help ELLs: First, lyrics have more direct, conversational sentence structure (e.g., minimal use of clauses or inverted order) and have less jargon than textbook prose. Students can pause, rewind, and replay songs (which are already slower than speech in conveying content). The interactive interface often provides scaffolding for those new to English and/or to the US (e.g., "Hypothesis on Trial"). And our song "A Fitting Conclusion" directly adapts the ELL teaching tool of sentence frames (e.g., p. 6 of this 2009 article in Statistics Education Research Journal).  I'm looking forward to speaking about this at the 2018 national conference of TODOS - Mathematics for ALL next month!

  • Icon for: Dave Barnes

    Dave Barnes

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 09:14 p.m.
    Hi Dennis, Larry, and John.   Interesting. I would have never thought of songs to learn mathematics and statistics in college!   I know we only got a small taste of one song which seemed to focus on a process and relationships relative to regression.  Would you say these efforts increase vocabulary, skill, fluency and problem solving? I think there is significant benefit in decreasing anxiety and positively impacting students identity as a doer of mathematics. Have been able to assess any impact on student identity?   Dave 
  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 09:29 p.m.

    hi Dave -- great meeting you at last month's inspiring NCTM conference (I'm the one who inquired about restoring the archive of ON-Math issues to NCTM's website). When I presented our project at the conference, it was interesting how attendees spanned all grade bands.  I agree that the educational uses of song that most people are familiar with involve recall of K-8 material (e.g., multiplication facts). I'd written about more advanced content and roles beyond recall (e.g., in JMA and JME), but it's been a whole new level how we've put together this library of songs that build conceptual reasoning across the introductory statistics course. We're beginning to analyze data from randomized experiments, and look forward to reporting results soon. Given how many students struggle to form a positive identity as doers of mathematics/statistics, and given how virtually everyone loves engaging with music, your last question is quite intriguing and promising!  

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 01:02 a.m.

    That's definitely an interesting thought Dave.  Our randomized experiments to date have been powered for expected results on performance gains in the learning assessments we developed. In our future work we've been discussing how to better measure and test for some of the non-cognitive outcomes like anxiety, attitudes, identity/self-efficacy, and the like.  

    Statistical Anxiety and Self-Efficacy overlap a good deal and we're been wondering if there might be physically measurable observations that could be made and tracked over time to serve as good reliable surrogates.  Research in the biomedical literature on stress and it's physical manifestations might be a model that could be applied in an education setting for some of these non-cognitive outcomes.  We are looking for interdisciplinary collaborators who might be interested in working with us on such topics..

  • Icon for: Katie Widmann

    Katie Widmann

    Graduate Student
    May 16, 2018 | 05:23 p.m.

    I love it!  For someone like me who struggles with mathematics, this would be such a lifesaver - and would make the subject fun, thus eliminating the drudgery and dread that comes with homework.  

    What was your inspiration for this project? 

    Data and numbers aside, have you gotten any feedback from students and professors?  I was wondering if it make teaching and learning subjectively easier and/or more enjoyable.

  • Icon for: John Weber III

    John Weber III

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 05:44 p.m.

    Thanks Katie. The previous work that motivated this project showed that songs seemed to help student learning more than cartoons and we speculated that it was the interactivity of songs that powered their effect. You can find our main report on that project at https://tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10691898.2016.1190190?needAccess=true. We also have a web page with references to other work by our group at http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/Fun.html. Thus, we wanted to try and make songs even more interactive by getting students involved in creating the examples driving the lyrics.

    We completed a pilot test at a two-year college and at a four-year research institution. The results of survey questions, described in our VOICES poster (available at https://www.causeweb.org/voices/2017/poster/8 at the 2:45 mark), showed that students considered the songs a good way to engage students in learning statistics, relevant to learning statistical topics, and a good tool in helping relieve student anxiety.

    We did an experiment in the Fall 2017 semester to compare students randomly assigned to the SMILES intervention with students randomly assigned to readings on the topics (the concepts and examples in the readings were essentially the same). We then put assessment items on those topics in the final exams for those courses. We also measured student anxiety toward statistics using a nationally normed instrument. Thus, we should be able to see if the SMILES approach improves learning and/or reduces anxiety.

     
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    Lawrence Lesser
  • Icon for: Lawrence Lesser

    Lawrence Lesser

    Co-Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 05:45 p.m.

    Thank you, Katie!  To add to John's post, other initial inspirations/precedents for writing "interactive songs" include: an icebreaker "script" song in a Mathematics Teacher article, fill-in-the-blank songs by Dane Camp, and the Mad Libs template game (which has been used in teaching statistics). And in the music world beyond education, I'm also inspired by a "choose your own adventure" song video by Roy Zimmerman, and by seeing singer-songwriters (e.g., Peter Himmelman or David Wilcox) create a song on the spot that incorporates information about a stranger from the audience. And, along the way, our process has been informed by great feedback from workshops, focus groups of instructors, and our Advisory Board.

  • Icon for: Kristina Yu

    Kristina Yu

    Informal Educator
    May 19, 2018 | 09:28 a.m.

    Thanks for sharing your work and for all the great references in your comments.  I am at a museum and we have always struggled with how to bring the idea of statistics to our audiences in a compelling and appropriate way, as we are an informal environment.   This opens my eyes to a whole new approach to look into.  Thank you!

  • Icon for: John Weber III

    John Weber III

    Co-Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 10:22 a.m.

    Kristina, thank you for watching our video and posting your comment.

    We hope our resources help you develop ways for your museum visitors explore statistical ideas.

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 10:50 a.m.

    Thanks for the kind words Kristina.  We also think the interactive nature of the SMILES songs would work great for museum environments - though the level might need to be adjusted.  You might also have a look at the CAUSE "fun items" data base at https://www.causeweb.org/cause/resources/fun has songs, cartoons, quotes, poems, short stories, magic tricks, puzzles, art work, jokes, and games that illustrate statistical ideas.

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    Amy Wagler

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 21, 2018 | 04:52 p.m.

    Hi Larry and Dennis-congratulations on this great project and uncovering interesting results! I think this engaging approach should be used in so many areas and appreciate they work you have both done to broaden the use of music in teaching and learning!

  • Icon for: Dennis Pearl

    Dennis Pearl

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 04:57 p.m.

    Thanks Amy.  We do feel that the use of song has great promise in teaching - even at the College level - especially if done in a pedagogically active/engaging manner.

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.