Jan 082013

One thing that I have struggled with is to make review meaningful for AP Stats. I absolutely hate the “here is the review, the test will be similar” wink wink, where all you do is change some numbers and voila, there is the actual exam.

That doesn’t seem honest to me, when I am supposed to be preparing them to think critically and learn material. It doesn’t seem honest for regular classes and it is doubly dishonest in AP classes. This year I have really been thinking and working on this issue more in my classes. To that end, this is my review project this year. 1 day in, and I think it is mostly successful.

I started off with a data set. I took it from my proficiency materials, stripped out anything that could be used to identify a particular learner, and then deleted 20 digits and put in blanks. The blanks were filled in using digits from the learners own student id number. Now, the learners can discuss HOW to do the problems, but they cannot get answers from anyone else. I can easily check their answers using JMP or another statistics program if I question their work. The nice thing, is almost everyone’s graphs will look similar, but not identical. Similar enough I can help w/o needing to do the entire process because I know what it is supposed to look like.


Now comes the questions. heh heh heh. 10, simple, innocuous questions.

For instance, here are the first 3 questions:

1. Describe the 3 variables completely, including types of variable, appropriate graphs of the values and complete description of the distributions, including all appropriate statistics. J K L

2. A passing score on the math test is a 242, while for the reading test a 300 is required. Is passing the proficiency exam in either math or reading independent of gender? Construct appropriate graphs to help explain why or why not. J K L

Create a bar chart of reading and math scores broken down by gender. Explain what the graph says about the pass rates of males and females.

The “JKL” at the end is the Wingding’s font for “smiley face” “straight face” and “frowny face”. They can rate themselves on each question.

The files are embedded here in both docx and pdf format if you would like copies.

How did it go, you ask?

I am giving them 3 class periods to work on it. I am glad, because after day 1, they accomplished most of question number 1!

I was stunned by them asking “How do I make a histogram?”. Like we didn’t do it 100 times at the beginning of the year.

Ooops, that is the problem. They learned it for the test, and promptly forgot it. Now I am forcing them to actually go back and relearn everything we have covered the entire year. They are cursing me, but it is working. I have had a lot of “aha’s” because they didn’t learn it well the first time, and now they are being forced to figure it out. It is working.

I wonder if I can’t teach the material this way to begin with? Can’t I give them a data set and say “Go”. We can figure out how to handle it together?

Makes a person go hmmm.

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