Use of an e-Textbook and Web-Based Homework for an
Undergraduate Business Course: Students’ Perceptions
Robert C. Cutshall, Ph.D., Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi Joseph S. Mollick, Ph.D., Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi Eugene M. Bland, Ph.D., CFA, CFM, CTP, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi
More and more, employers are looking for workers that have a solid foundation in business statistics and data analysis. As businesses collect more and more information, the ability to efficiently and effectively utilize this information cause trained knowledge workers to be in greater demand. However, business statistics, where many of these high demand skills are taught, is a course that many students view in an unfavorable light. To revise the students’ perceptions of business statistics there is a need to revise the way that undergraduate business statistics courses are taught. This has been noted by various authors throughout the years. In an effort to bring more student engagement into their business statistics education, this study looks at the use of a web-based homework and electronic textbook applications in an undergraduate business statistics course. Specifically, this study examines the business students’ perceptions regarding the use of a web-based homework and electronic textbook combination in an undergraduate business statistics course.
The use of web-based homework is
relatively new in the context of business statistics so this study seeks to uncover the students’ perceptions regarding this new use of technology outside of the classroom.
Business statistics is a business core course that all undergraduate business students are required to take. Some colleges have a one semester undergraduate business statistics course and other colleges have a two semester course sequence of undergraduate business statistics. In 2001, McAlevey and Sullivan (2001) pointed to the usefulness of statistical knowledge in a business environment. Several years later the need for knowledge workers to have a solid understanding of business statistics and data analysis is even more apparent in a complex business environment where many businesses are measuring their stores of data in terabytes. Nevertheless the students’ view of statistics has been noted by many authors as being the most unpopular course in the business program (McAlevey and Stent, 1999). Perhaps the reason for the negative perception of statistics has to do with the math and statistics anxiety that many students have. Statistics anxiety is defined as “feelings of anxiety encountered when taking a statistics course or doing statistical analyses; that is gathering, processing and interpreting data” (Cruise, Cash, and Bolton, 1985). Six factors are used to measure statistics anxiety: worth of statistics (students’ perception of the value of statistics), interpretation anxiety (determining
which statistical test to use), test and class anxiety (anxiety related to taking a statistics class or exam), computational self-concept (relates to anxiety associated with math computation), fear of asking for help, and fear of statistics teachers (perception of the statistics teacher not being able to relate to students) (Cruise et al., 1985). Statistics anxiety is often reflected in lower student performance in the business statistics class (Baloglu and Zelhart, 2003). With technology becoming more and more prevalent at universities, many statistics instructors have sought ways to ease the statistics anxiety suffered by business students. Some instructors have brought technology into the classroom in the form of statistical applications like Minitab and SPSS in order to let the computer do the computations and then let the students focus only on interpreting the results (Spinelli, 2001; Steagall and Mason, 1994). Other studies have looked at replacing the traditional statistics classroom setting with statistics being taught through...
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