General Teaching – New Statistics Approach

February 3, 2010 at 2:47 pm Leave a comment

Last semester was a difficult one for me in my statistics class, so I have decided to change some things up. Here’s a summary of my plan.

Get the students more involved during class.

I think that students learn and understand best through participation. Last week, while covering different sampling techniques, I had my students participate in examples of the different techniques. This activity helped them to understand the differences between the techniques in a way that my carefully crafted lecture could not. (This was especially true for cluster sampling versus stratified sampling.)

Incorporate more technology & focus on conceptual understanding.

Stats has always been a tough course to teach because the students have different technological tools. Some have a scientific calculator, others have the TI 83/84. Some have spreadsheet access on their laptop, others do not. We use MyStatLab in our course, and StatCrunch is part of the package. So far StatCrunch has been outstanding for me. It’s very intuitive for the students to use. Now I can take the grunt work out of their hands and focus on conceptual understanding. For instance, it’s easier for me to test hypotheses using p-values because students can easily generate p-values with this tool. Currently I am giving weekly StatCrunch assignments that are task oriented, but future assignments will be 50% task oriented and 50% conceptual.

Look at more student work.

I am collecting a weekly assignment of homework problems, as well as using in class assessments on a regular basis. It helps me to diagnose student issues in a more timely fashion. My students would rather find out their approach is wrong on one of these assessments than on one of the exams. It does create more work for me, but I am OK with that.

Conclusion

Two weeks into the course I find that my students seem to be doing much better, and are more connected to the material. I will post results after exam 1, which should be late next week. I can say that it is nice to feel excited about my students performance and interest to date.

I am a math instructor at College of the Sequoias in Visalia, CA. If there are topics you’d like me to address in future General Teaching articles, whether they are related to statistics, developmental math, or other topics, send in your requests through the contact page on my web site. Be sure to check out next Wednesday’s article.  – George

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