Students Win First Place in National Competition for Biostatistics Research

Three Biola students collaborated on a winning statistics project about auditory comprehension

Nov. 1, 2016 By Erin Wilson

Biola University senior psychology major Alison Winiarski, junior biology major Catherine Newberry, and junior human biology major Ashley Yukihiro, won first place in a recent competition sponsored by the American Statistical Association and the Consortium for Advancement of Undergraduate Statistics Education. The students had collaborated on a statistics project for their biostatistics class and entered the project into the competition at the recommendation of their professor, Jason Wilson, who teaches mathematics.

“I am very proud of Alison, Ashley, and Cat for the quality work they did on this project,” said Wilson. “It's one thing for me to regard it as top-notch and recommend for submission; it's another thing for them to receive national recognition.”

The competition, titled Undergraduate Class Project Competition (USCLAP), is the only national college-level statistics project competition in the United States. The three students won first place in the subcategory of First Course in Statistics for their project, titled “Effect of Music Type, Gender, and Learner Type on Auditory Comprehension.”

“My first reaction was utter shock and disbelief,” said Winiarski regarding receiving first place. “I could not believe what had happened!”

Winiarski was not alone in her state of surprise. The three students were all elated to receive recognition for their hard work.

“For me, the project represented the culmination of an entire semester’s worth of information,” said Newberry. “I enjoy statistics, and I was really proud of the work our group had done. Winning the competition was just icing on the cake.”

The students’ professor affirmed their efforts and expressed excitement over the way their project represented the math program at Biola.

“This shows some of the potential of our program and our students, and I think we're coming to the game with fewer resources than some of the competitor schools, like UCLA,” said Wilson.

The project data was originally collected from a prior class Winiarski took regarding experimental psychology. The data was collected by having Biola psychology student volunteers listen to a story told orally using different tones and vocal inflections while instrumental or popular music played in the background. The participants then took a reading comprehension quiz to measure auditory comprehension. This method was used to discover if a difference in scores exists based on the music played, gender of participants and self-reported learner type. The students discovered that the type of music and gender of participants did not significantly affect auditory comprehension, however, Winiarski discovered that the participants’ learning style could change their ability to understand auditory information.

The students won $250 to be divided among each project participant and received certificates of achievement as part of the award. The three students stated that they were proud of the work they produced together under the guidance of their professor.

“My personal hope is that we are able to launch a math center on campus next year, which will allow us to support more students, as well as faculty, to produce quality statistical work,” said Wilson.

For further information about the students’ project, view it on the USCALP website.

Written by Erin Wilson, public relations intern. For more information, contact Jenna Loumagne, media relations specialist, at (562) 777-4061 or jenna.loumagne@biola.edu.

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