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					Do opposites
Dr. Roberto Bencivenga
Red Deer College
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
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
     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.

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