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Changing Education Paradigms
Educating the Class of 2034 is the result of my thoughts from 30 years of teaching high school, college and graduate students.
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Introduction: After years of traditional teaching to open enrollment college and junior college students I switched to my now free then inexpensive programmed textbooks Quick Notes Statistics and Excel Statistics Lab Manual. With all the problems and their data sets written in Excel, many of the calculation learning obstacle was removed. Many students were familiar with the text as they had used the free Quick Notes Financial Accounting and/or the free Economics Interactive Class Notes with Links when teaching my other courses. These books were also concise two-page outlines per chapter followed by practice problems and complete solutions.
Methodology: Class one began with a 30 minute overview of material covered on the first on a disk take-home or in-the-lab computer exam. We then adjourned to the lab with some of the better students leaving to study the lectures on their own and do required work at their leisure while the others joined me in the lab learn to use Excel to calculate measures of central tendency. Lectures for a few nights were short previews as labs sessions with me and a few students helping with procedures. The class before thecomputerized test using Excel was a comprehensive 30 minute or so review where I again saw the better students and after the review a few students were off to the lab to finish their computerized lab set due before the test. The test was on a disk and also on the lab server. This procedure was followed for tests on probability, on hypothesis testing and on correlation plus regression.
Being an honor system take-home or in lab computer exam resulted in the same
grade distribution as for
a traditional in class test where students did calculations. A large note
card/cheat sheet was allowed.
3) Only the better students learned more, much more. Students for open enrollment college classes had for 35 years divided into four groups.
Group one learned central tendency but got lost on probability. They completed the course requirements but never really learned much. They passed with low grades because of my easy grading procedures.
Group two calculated some probability functions. Hypothesis testing was poor as they ran into trouble deciding which Excel menu procedure to use for each of the eight different problems on the take home/lab exam. I had warned them that over 35 years grades always went down with each tests and but many were still disappointed. Some of these adults worked really hard but having to choose between finite and normal distributions, large and small samples and then between one sample and two samples eventually led to mistakes.
Group three often got the statistic correct but then had difficulty determining to accept or reject the no change null hypothesis. All the studying in the world doesn't help because they had never really understood what hypothesis testing was all about.
Group four had one final hurdle to explain what the answer meant. They had correctly accepted or rejected the null hypothesis but what did it mean? They needed to write in the analysis section that the new procedure was faster or had less defects or the new diet was better/worse or else it was back to group three and a B grade. Less than six from a class of twenty-five got almost everything correct and got a 4 points on almost every problem. A very few indeed got everything correct. I used his system for about six classes before retiring in 2002.
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