The Better Book Approach for Education Research and Development

James W. Stigler, Ji Y. Son, Karen B. Givvin, Adam Blake, Laura Fries, Stacy T. Shaw, Mary C. Tucker (2019)

This paper describes a new approach for education research and development - the better book approach - and reports on our initial development and application of the approach in the context of introductory college-level statistics.

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Modeling First: Applying Learning Science to the Teaching of Introductory Statistics

Ji Y. Son, Adam Blake, Laura Fries, James W. Stigler (2020)

In this article we describe our attempt to apply theories and findings from learning science to the design of a statistics course that aims to help students build a coherent and interconnected representation of the domain. The resulting practicing connections approach provides students with repeated opportunities to practice connections between core concepts (especially the concepts of statistical model, distribution, and randomness), key representations (R programming language and computational techniques such as simulation and bootstrapping), and real-world situations statisticians face as they explore variation, model variation, and evaluate and compare statistical models. We provide a guided tour through our curriculum implemented in an interactive online textbook ( and then provide some evidence that students who complete the course are able to transfer what they have learned to the learning of new statistical techniques.

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Instructed Hand Movements Affect Students’ Learning of an Abstract Concept from Video

Icy (Yunyi) Zhang, Karen B. Givvin, Jeffrey M. Sipple, Ji Y. Son, James W. Stigler (2021)

The two studies reported here investigate the impact of instructed hand movements on students’ subsequent understanding of a concept. Students were asked to watch an instructional video—focused on the concept of statistical model—three times. These two studies found that instructed hand movement—even when presented as an unrelated, secondary task—can affect students’ learning of a complex concept.

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This article was featured in Scientific American.

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Practicing Connections: A Framework to Guide Instructional Design for Developing Understanding in Complex Domains

Laura Fries, Ji Y. Son, Karen B. Givvin, James W. Stigler (2020)

Research suggests that expert understanding is characterized by coherent mental representations featuring a high level of connectedness. This paper advances the idea that educators can facilitate this level of understanding in students through the practicing connections framework: a practical framework to guide instructional design for developing deep understanding and transferable knowledge in complex academic domains.

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Utility Value Trajectories and their Relationship with Behavioral Engagement and Performance in Introductory Statistics

Claudia C. Sutter, Chris S. Hulleman, Karen B. Givvin, Mary C. Tucker (2021)

This study examined utility value trajectories overall and by gender, race, and underrepresented racial minority (URM) status within an introductory statistics course that used the CourseKata online textbook and tested the relationships between utility value, behavioral engagement, and performance.

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Removing Opportunities to Calculate Improves Students' Performance on Subsequent Word Problems

Karen B. Givvin, Veronika Moroz, William Loftus, James W. Stigler (2019)

This paper reports our investigation on whether removing opportunities to calculate could improve students’ subsequent ability to solve similar word problems

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Exploring the Practicing-connections Hypothesis: Using Gesture to Support Coordination of Ideas in Understanding a Complex Statistical Concept

Ji Y. Son, Priscilla Ramos, Melissa DeWolf, William Loftus, James W. Stigler (2018)

This paper presented a framework and approach for studying how students come to understand complex concepts in rich domains. Specifically, it explores the role that a teacher’s gesture might play in supporting students’ coordination of two concepts central to understanding in the domain of statistics: mean and standard deviation.

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Expertise and Expert Performance in Teaching

James W. Stigler, Kevin F. Miller (2018)

This chapter tries to take a broader approach to understanding the nature and development of expertise and expert performance in teaching. The paper also tries to integrate a number of ideas and findings from literatures as diverse as cross-cultural compar- isons of teaching, cognitive psychology, and systems improvement, among others.

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James W. Stigler, James Hiebert, Karen B. Givvin (2018)

The paper discusses the logic of the more traditional approach on which many current policies for improving teaching in the United States are based and then presents an alternative research approach, in which a different theory of improvement is assumed.

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Online Learning as a Wind Tunnel for Improving Teaching

James W. Stigler, Karen B. Givvin (2017)

The chapter proposes an approach that combines the affordances of online learning with the methodologies of systems improvement. It discusses how online learning might be a wind tunnel for the study and improvement of teaching.

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What Community College Developmental Mathematics Students Understand about Mathematics, Part2: The Interviews

Karen B. Givvin, James W. Stigler, Belinda J. Thompson (2011)

Following the prior paper, this article presents findings from one-on-one interviews with a sample of community college developmental math students. These interviews were designed to further probe students’ mathematical thinking, both correct and incorrect.

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What Community College Developmental Mathematics Students Understand about Mathematics

James W. Stigler, Karen B. Givvin, Belinda J. Thompson (2010)

This paper investigates what community college students actually understand about the mathematics that underlie the topics they’ve been taught and seeks evidence that students used reasoning in answering mathematical questions.

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