Tricks to Helping Others Assignment

Finding Tricks to Help Others Assignment

Every course has a topic that instructors know will be problematic for students.  In psychology, that topic is statistics.  In order to help students better understand statistics, I have each student find a “trick” that will help their fellow students better understand a statistical concept.  For example, in order to understand the difference between positively and negatively skewed distributions I offer students the following trick:

As you can see from the image above, your left foot is negatively skewed and your right foot is positively skewed.  The “skew” part of a graph is the smaller part of the curve, so your little toe is the skew part. 

Interestingly, I had two students ask me if they could “create” their own trick for learning the material, and after a few cautions I allowed the students to do so.  While they didn’t get perfect grades, some of their fellow classmates did find their mnemonics useful.

Below you will find the text for the assignment that I use for statistics, however I do believe that this assignment can be easily adapted for use across most topics.  The basic idea is to simply have students find an “easier” way to remember the material.

The purpose of this assignment is to get everyone involved in helping each other better understand statistics.  First, pick a topic and then use the internet to find a tip, trick or cartoon that will help you better understand the topic.

If you choose a tip or trick:

An example of a tip or trick was provided in class.  Remember when we discussed positively and negatively skewed distributions?  If you don’t, then you can go to slide number 12.  If you find such a trick, you are to post a clear, proofread description of you tip or trick on the Discussion Board.

If you choose a cartoon:

An example of a cartoon was also provided in class.  Recall that in order to understand the humor behind the cartoon on slide 1 we had to understand the meaning of a standard deviation?   If you find a cartoon, you must explain why the cartoon is funny.  This explanation should include an explanation of the concept that you have chosen. (faculty can see below for the cartoon discussed in class).

Don’t get too fancy, or make this too complicated.  If you pick a topic like correlations, there are many things that you can look at under correlations.  For example, positive correlations, negative correlations, or scatter plots.  Please only choose one topic.

Your write-up should be at least a paragraph long and as previously noted clear, easy to read and understand.  After you have posted your paragraph, take a look at a fellow student’s posting, and provide some useful, helpful comment with regard to your fellow student’s posting.  Useful and helpful comments are just that.  Simply stating that your fellow classmate’s posting is good, nice, great, not good etc.  Post at least one paragraph of what you think of the assistance being offered.  If you think it will be helpful, explain why.  Even if the advice is good, is there something else that you can offer that might make this better?  If you don’t think it will be helpful, explain why and offer some help on how to make the advice better.

In addition to the general grading rubric that is found on the syllabus, I will be using the following four criteria to grade this assignment:

  1. Is the advice posted on the discussion board easy to understand?
  2. How useful was the advice or tip that you provided?
  3. How useful was the information you posted in response to your fellow classmate’s posting?
  4. Was the posting to your fellow classmate easy to understand?

On a final note, you should understand that at a basic level you are only required to post two things to the discussion board, your helpful hint, and your comments to a fellow student.  However, the more active you are in the discussion the better your grade.  I should also note that in order to do well on this assignment it would be a good idea for you to post your advice early, since it will give others time to respond.  In addition, please note that once someone has selected and posted on a topic, you may not choose that topic.

Cartoon Used to Help Students Understand the Standard Deviation


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