Thursday, July 10, 2014

Forming an interesting in-class Statistics activity - Part II

After the last post I spent some time thinking about my options for an experiment to do in-class that fulfilled all of my requirements. After some thought I decided on the following plan.

  • Claim to the class that I have a logic puzzle that I believe will help people with their math skills. I want to be able to put something on my website saying that this puzzle helped people with their math by some incredible percentage.
  • Walk students through how I was to do this, including samples, factors to control for, and how to create the tests. I guided the conversation so that we would also collect information on how long ago they took their previous math class, to ensure that the control and experimental groups had a variety of math ability levels (measured by an initial test), to anonymize the results, and discuss how we would use the class setting in the most appropriate manner.
  • I created a packet with all the necessary tests, the puzzle, and data recording forms. When printed I assigned random numbers to each packet. I would hand out these packets at this time, asking students to remember their number.
  • Students took the first test, I collect it, hand it back out randomly, and we graded the results.
  • Collecting the data in Excel on the projector, we would then make our sample based on the survey questions we agreed on and the scores. At this time we would compare different sampling methods and how to make them work.
  • Have the students in the experimental group work the logic puzzle, and the control group start on computing descriptive statistics of the pre-puzzle scores. I would later ask all students to compute descriptive statistics for both tests, both samples, as what they were to turn in.
  • After 10 minutes, have all students take a similar test, collect them, hand them back out randomly, grade them, and collect their scores.
  • Having collected this information we would then do some basic statistical analysis on each group, comparing means, medians, standard deviations, and possibly five-number summaries. Comparing the means and medians of each group, and comparing the difference in the two scores and then their means, I would create two different reasonable measures for what I could include on my website. I would like to do some linear regressions, but that material isn't covered in this class but in Statistics II. 
  • Wrap-up with a discussion on how to make this experiment better. Guide the conversation to the placebo effect (I did mention to everyone that I thought these puzzles would help.), blinding, sources of bias, and anything else students mentioned. 
Here is the packet I put together, Statistics I In-Class Activity: Experiment. Tomorrow's post will be about how the activity worked, what didn't, and how I'd like to change it in the future.

If you have any suggestions, or you use this or a similar activity in your Statistics class, feel free to share by commenting below. Thanks!

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