Do opposites attract? Dr. Roberto Bencivenga Red Deer College Canada A quick preface So much to do, so little time… Thank God for PowerPoint? Red Deer College: RuralAlberta (East of Rockies) Community College Approximately 4500 FTE Wide range of programs including… My usual workload First year Engineering transfer program: Calculus Linear algebra Full 4-year Nursing Degree: Basics of statistics Opposites? Yes! Do they attract? In more ways than one! First year Engineering: the students Mostly males Not strong on average Mixture of go-getters and parkers Need to: Bring them up to speed Perform a selection Clarify University demands Present a supportive image First year Engineering: the environment Our school system does: allowcalculators not emphasize control of basics or proficiency promote “real life” philosophy Our receiving University does: not allow calculators expect good quality to maintain transfer arrangements First year Engineering: the usual stuff Use marked activities as leverage for the academic message: No marked homework, except for carrot “bonus” exercises. Weekly lab quizzes based on textbook exercises Two major Tests plus Final Exam First year Engineering: the “innovation” Questions: How can we balance the attitude students bring from high school with what is expected from University? How can we wean students from the calculator without abandoning it? How can we make them to think? First year Engineering: the “innovation” The structure of each major tests and Final Exam is that of a “triple jump”. Each such test is divided into three separate tests: A memory test A basic skills test A proficiency test The Memory test A set of randomly selected questions from a list provided to students in advance. Each question refers to a basic formula, definition or theorem Expected answers are one-liners Approximately 1 minute per question No aid allowed. 3 marks for each correct answer, 0 for any blanks, -1 for each incorrect answer. The Basic Skills test A short set of exercise-level questions Addresses basic techniques Approximately 10 minutes per question Only aid allowed: a 4x6 handwritten card No calculator. Each question is out of 4 marks The Proficiency test A shorter set of advanced questions requiring a combination of methods Approximately 20 minutes per question Any hand-written notes allowed, no book Any calculator allowed Each question is out of 10 marks Evaluation is qualitative So, did it work? From my point of view, yes: Excellent discrimination Pedagogical message loud and clear Lots of ideas for further refinements From their point of view, not clear ? Not comfortable with unusual format They hated the memory test It’s always too long Four-year Nursing: the students Mostly females Strong in core nursing areas Mostly determined to succeed Weak in and closed to math Determined to avoid learning any math- related knowledge Four-year Nursing: the environment Our Nursing program: is part of a Province-wide consortium uses “Problem-Based Learning” model is very intense and time-demanding focuses on one-to-one learning requires students to know enough statistics to be able to overview and assess the data analysis methods used in research papers Four-year Nursing: the “innovation” Questions: How can we balance the requirement for statistical knowledge with its perceived marginal role in this profession? How can we encourage evidence-based practice without getting too technical? How can we get them to relax about stats? Four-year Nursing: the “innovation” No formal statistics course Instead, a 3-phase approach: Year 1: Collecting and summarizing data Year 2: Probability and hypothesis testing Year 3: How to (superficially) critique a statistical data analysis Focus on hands-on application Year 1: Descriptive Stats In small groups, students: Collect data from a community agency Summarize data using basic methods Identify the problems encountered Propose alternative methods No marks attached! Year 2: Probability and hypothesis testing Basic concepts introduced: Probability (and epidemiological applications) Randomization (and clinical trials) Hypothesis testing (protocol and jargon) Statistical and clinical significance No formulae A few multiple choice questions on exams Year 3: Critiquing a data-based research article In small groups, students: Select a relevant research article Identify all major stats methods used Try to assess their appropriateness Focus on interpretation Focus on finding features of the tests used Reports worth 15% of the Nursing Research course So, does it work? From my point of view, yes Anxietyis lower, learning is higher Applicability comes through Students see and accept relevance of stats From their point of view, yes! They appreciate the reduced weight They realize they are comfortable with stats They even start wanting more! Do opposites attract? The opposites: Gender Aims Environment Students perspective Further work to be done Do opposites attract? The overlaps: Three aspects Need to support students Focus on role of evaluation Our need to adapt to circumstances Our need to love our students: Students don’t care how much we know unless they know how much we care.