The use of presentations to drive learning in statistics

This term I am experimenting with having the MS 150 Statistics students give presentations from the get go, as opposed to presenting the course material for the first 12 weeks and then launching into open data exploration. The term launched with a presentation week one - done on zero content. That experiment went better than expected.


I then shifted into a couple weeks of compressed content, essentially lecture-homework mode, traditional style classroom activities. Material that had been covered in two, was packed into one, with intent of providing more space for more presentations. A traditional test was also squeezed into these two weeks. The test did not go as well as the first test has gone in prior terms. In prior terms the students have usually completed a quiz or two prior to the first test. This term the first test was the students first contact with an on line test in Schoology. I should have trimmed content to allow for the slower pace the students move during a first test. There were also network latency issues.


Week four saw the class return to a presentation week. The week was an exciting and active learning experience. One student taught me how to do histograms more easily using Google Sheets - a lesson that will lead to a rewrite of chapter three of the course statistics text for next term. All week I was working with students, inside of class and outside, answering questions and facilitating learning. Of course no one mastered anything from the two weeks of lecture, and one could say that they had not learned anything. Yet they knew what a box plot was, a quartile, basic statistics, histograms. So they had learned that such existed. The upshot is that I cannot see a way to eliminating lecture entirely, but the presentations are key to the students developing mastery of the material. The presentations then drive questions as students work to develop presentations that answer the questions posed.


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