Testing the Practicing Connections Framework: A Core-Concept Intervention to Promote Understanding in Introductory Statistics
Laura Fries

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship

Award Year



University of California, Los Angeles

Primary Discipline

Students’ failure to transfer what they learn to new situations is one of the fundamental problems facing education. Research suggests that transferable knowledge is characterized by connectedness and coherence. This dissertation asks how we can facilitate students’ development of coherent, transferable knowledge in complex domains.This study explores one approach, suggested by the Practicing Connections Framework (Fries et al., 2020). According to this framework, transferable knowledge results from repeated practice not of individual skills and concepts, but of the connections that create domain coherence: connections between core concepts, key representations, and the range of contexts to which the knowledge is intended to apply.In a mixed-method, random-assignment experiment conducted in multiple sections of an undergraduate statistics course, students are assigned to either an experimental version of a research-instrumented online textbook, which includes 24 supplemental videos designed to facilitate such connections, or a control version. The interactive textbook and course setting provide rich data, including pre-measures (e.g., demographic information), process-measures (e.g., viewing proportions), and learning outcomes (e.g., 1200+ assessment items). Specifically, this study asks: 1) how students engage with the connection-highlighting instructional video embedded in online text, 2) how the intervention impacts course learning outcomes, and 3) if the intervention promotes the development of more transferable knowledge.This study aims to contribute to our understanding of knowledge development in complex domains over extended periods of time, with implications for instructional routines and future learning research methodologies.
About Laura Fries
Laura Fries is a Ph.D. student in Developmental Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her research interests center on the cognitive and affective factors that influence teaching and learning, guided by a pervasive problem: students often leave our classrooms unable to apply what they have learned to real-world situations, despite this being a foundational goal of our education system. As part of a larger project focused on improving an introductory statistics curriculum, Laura’s current work examines the effects of instructional strategies designed to support students’ development of usable knowledge. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a teaching credential and M.A. in Education from California Lutheran University. Prior to her doctoral studies, Laura worked as a teacher in Los Angeles.

Pin It on Pinterest