Multidimensional Scaling for Selecting Small Groups in College Courses

Iain Pardoe


Many college courses use group work as a part of the learning and evaluation process. Class groups are often selected randomly or by allowing students to organize groups themselves. However, if it is desired to control some aspect of the group structure, such as increasing schedule compatibility within groups, multidimensional scaling can be used to form such groups. This article describes how this has been adopted in an undergraduate statistics course. Resulting groups have been more homogeneous with respect to student schedules than groups selected randomly - an example from Winter quarter 2004 increased correlations between student schedules from a mean of 0.29 before grouping to a within-group mean of 0.50. Further, the exercise allows opportunities to discuss a wealth of statistical concepts in class, including surveys, association measures, multidimensional scaling, and statistical graphics.

Key Words: Cooperative learning; Ordination; Perceptual mapping; Principal coordinate analysis; Teaching.

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Last updated: October 6, 2004

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© 2004, Iain Pardoe, Lundquist College of Business, University of Oregon

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