Stop and smell the roses: an activity for teaching the central limit theorem

Document Type


Publication Date





The role of choice in assessment topic on performance has not been properly addressed in the literature on learning strategies. Therefore, the present study forms the basis for an initial analysis of this issue. The study describes an investigation into the effects of freedom of assessment topic choice on students' performance. This follows suggestions from students that they do not perform as well on essays to which they have been arbitrarily assigned due to a decrease in interest, understanding and motivation to perform. Student performance was compared on self-selected and non-selected topics. The effects of choice were analysed by cohort, practice and marker effects. Academic ability was controlled for by a within subject design. The analysis found mixed evidence for increased performance when students are allowed to choose the topic of interest. The concept of student choice and how to balance this with practical limitations is discussed in light of the results and areas of further research are suggested.