For seven years before becoming an instructional coach, I taught Advanced Placement statistics. I loved this course, as every day brought a new applied situation, a new set of data, and a new, rich classroom discussion. While many of my math colleagues have an aversion to teaching statistics (one friend from another school said to me “you’ll become the loneliest person in your department”), I think teaching the course gives an appreciateion for how we should be approaching data analysis in ALL math courses. But that’s a post for another day.
This week’s stats twitter chat (#statschat, 9PM on Tuesdays) started with a discussion of the recently released AP Stats items, but later moved to post-exam activities. As part of this discussion, cross-curricular options came up, and I mentioned a co-taught lesson I have developed with my AP Psychology colleague. For a number of years, this teacher and I had discussed co-teaching a unit on experimental design, as the AP Psych course outline actually includes a nice chunk of material AP Stats students come to understand. One section of the description, Research Methods, is right in the AP Stats wheelhouse:
- Describe how research design drives the reasonable conclusions that can be drawn (e.g., experiments are useful for determining cause and effect; the use of experimental controls reduces alternative explanations).
- Identify independent, dependent, confounding, and control variables in experimental designs.
- Distinguish between random assignment of participants to conditions in experiments and random selection of participants, primarily in correlational studies and surveys.
- Apply basic descriptive statistical concepts, including interpreting and constructing graphs and calculating simple descriptive statistics (e.g., measures of central tendency, standard deviation).
Yey for math featured in non-math subjects! What a natural fit for a handsome, fun math teacher and a respected social studies teacher to join forces in a class lesson! Some students comments that it seemed so out of context to have the two of us in the same class together. Worlds colliding! Dogs and cats shaking hands!
For two days, we led a discussion on correlation and causation, based on a curriculum module provided by the College Board. In the “Teaching Statistics and Research Methodology” module, the section “A Lesson on Correlation” by Amy Fineburg was used as a framework for discussion. Students were provided with an article to read beforehand and was used to generate discussion regarding student ideas of correlation, causation and experimental design. Our pesentation to the students is given below, and was completed over 2 days.