Mesfin Tessma

The use of open
educational resources in teaching and learning statistics have shown remarkable
progress. Statistical
teachers and experts in statistical pedagogy have reflected that the use of
open educational resources (OER) may strengthen independent or self-directed learning
(SDL) in statistics (Ben-Zvi and Garfield, 2008); Garfield and Ben-Zvi, 2007). Students
involved in different courses of medical statistics (basic, intermediate, and
advanced) are using OER to learn statistics. This may be partly due to its availability and partly
due to the delivery of the content in a more appealing way, thus decreasing the
perceived content difficulty and facilitating learning. The possibility of visiting the OER repeatedly
may be particularly helpful when learning statistics.

Thus it appears that OER is strengthening SDL by encouraging students to use substantial portion of their time for self-study, which is of paramount importance to transform the learner from a passive actor into an active agent.  Some experts suggest that students had a very positive perception that could be attributed to a number of benefits including self-directed learning, support materials (Gomez, and Duart 2012), and software tutorials. SDL is independent learning where students make choices and decisions about their own learning. However, “Taking responsibility, making choices and decisions about their own learning is a challenge for the students” (Silen and Uhlin, 2008).

Recently in a pedagogical seminar we were discussing about self-directed learning and its challenges. An important point we took in consideration was understanding the relationship which are created during SDL. “One relationship that emerges refers to the students fluctuating between chaos (frustration, disorientation) and cosmos (structures they themselves constructed) when they have to make their own choices and decisions about their studies” (Silen and Uhlin, 2008). During the discussion we have learned that students are experiencing some confusion (“chaos”) at the inception of SDL, however, later they discover the benefit of SDL with time.  “The tension between chaos and cosmos is an important driving force for the students will to learn and tutors’ role is to support the students’ learning process handling chaos as well as cosmos” (Silen and Uhlin, 2008). Using the power of reliable OER, students may gain knowledge, however many considerations should be taken into account to deal with the chaos and cosmos and the tension that is emerging in (Silén and Uhlin, 2008, MacLean and Scott, 2011; Ben-Zvi, 2000). There is also a need to examine the role of OER in SDL and create an improved environment to evaluate the quality of the open educational resource.


Ben-Zvi, D.
(2000). Toward understanding the role of technological tools in statistical
learning. Math. Thinking Learning, 2(1&2), 127–155.

Ben-Zvi, D. & Garfield, J. (2008). Introducing the emerging discipline
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and Mathematics,
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Garfield, J. & Ben-Zvi, D. (2007). How students learn statistics
revisited: A current review of research on teaching and learning statistics. International
Statistical Review
, 75(3), 372-396.

Gómez A.L.O., Duart J.M. (2012). A
hybrid approach to university subject learning activities. British Journal of Educational Technology, 43, 259-271.

MacLean, P. & Scott, B. (2011).
Competencies for learning design: A review of literature and a proposed
framework.  British Journal of Educational Technology, 42, 552-557.

Silen, Charlotte, & Uhlin, Lars.
(2008). Self-Directed Learning–A Learning Issue for Students and Faculty! Teaching
in Higher Education, 13(4), 461–475.

Openness and self-directed learning in medical statistics