For the past 40 years I have taught a course called Statistics and Experimental Design required of Carroll Psychology majors. I summarized my teaching philosophy of this course in a 2014 Society for the Teaching of Psychology publication. As I complete my last year of teaching here, my students and I are interesting in “giving away” psychology. The following links provide ancillary materials for mastering my course (or a refresher for what my students might have forgotten).

Tomorrow I meet with my students for the first time. Even after four decades of teaching I shall be nervous, though for different reasons than my two new colleagues whom I chatted with today (one, a former student!).

Delighted to connect via Facebook with two former students last Friday who saw me “marshaling” Faculty during the Opening Convocation as we welcomed their children to Carroll! Alumnus George Jifas wins the price for delicately indicating on LinkedIn how old I am:

“I clearly remember your old office with an IBM PS1 and the dual floppy drives when you would show us the “internet” and how it was used for research and access to the Library of Congress. My how times have changed.”

I have already sent my students a survey to have been completed before we meet. This begins the relationship building which is a focal point of how I teach. In the 2 sections of Statistics and Experimental Design I’ll collect some data to illustrate a simple two-group design. This also serves as a means of taking attendance. I also want to convey to them my interest in “robot-proofing them“, why I so value the liberal arts, and by belief in Carroll’s newly formulated ethos statement.

I am VERY impressed at how my Experimental Social Psychology students have thoughtfully responded to the blog post I shared with them. Based on their thoughtful responses, we may be rewriting the syllabus as we go.

My biggest worry at the moment is will I physically be able to get into my office – when I left today they were programming the locks!

I draw upon this material in the introductory chapter of a book I am working on.

Dec 7, 2009

As I’ve documented elsewhere, I have now taught more than seventy times a course required for the Carroll undergraduate psychology major. Can it really be that it was more than 30 years ago that my first student assistant, Larry Jost, and I proudly announced in our “journal,” Occasional Papers in Psychology, our successful translation of some 40 BASIC statistical analysis programs (obtained from a psychologist in South Africa)? We were so thrilled that we were able to introduce them into my PSY205 class using my TRS80 Model I Level II microcomputer with 16K RAM!

There exist a number of excellent resources on the Web, today, for supplementing a course like “mine.” Among my favorites is the Rice Virtual Lab in Statistics. I also find very well done and useful for our students the online resource Research Randomizer.

I’m wondering, though, whether it is time (or past time) for me to pass along the course to someone else. Indeed, is it perhaps time for the course to “go away” (though parting is such sweet sorrow 🙂 )— either by assuming that its content is addressed by other courses (such as are offered by my colleagues in Mathematics) or by merging it with another course, say, a two semester psychology research course. Both ideas have been proposed and discussed with faculty colleagues in recent years.

Though I think I have been unusually successful at developing rapport with students in a course whose subject matter is often anxiety-arousing, anyone teaching the same course time-and-again runs the risk of losing touch with new ways of teaching, failing to understand changes in student needs and student abilities and neglecting to capitalize on new and perhaps better ways of teaching the subject matter.

Is time to teach the course in a way more in “sync” with students of today to help students avoid choosing the wrong statistic? Should I offer the course in a totally online format? In a hybrid format ? Is there continued value in teaching a “canned” statistical package such as SPSS? Might it make more sense to teach the data analysis capabilities of open source statistical software freely available online? Should I incorporate more applications or draw more upon the work I do for Schneider Consulting which I strongly believe enriches my teaching? Should I make room for the more systematic teaching of effect sizes and statistical power?

I’d love to incorporate material on ethical issues of data analysis, provide opportunities to discover inappropriate data analyses, create opportunities for action research, and help students realize the limitations of statistics. Might it be worth my following through on my idea of a number of years ago of creating a highly trained group of undergraduate, cross-disciplinary, student data analysis consultants? Do I delude myself in thinking that my “Statistics and Experimental Design course” is the most important class that I teach?

I invite former and present students of mine who have taken this class with me to share their insights for possible new directions for this course.

Below is a first draft of an ebook I am writing with the able assistance of some Carroll students. Each hyperlink is a “module”. Thanks to Alison, Arianna, Tia, and Lizzy for helping me create this draft. I plan to “publish it” using for the first time Pressbooks. I share it at this time welcoming feedback.

For the past 40 years I have taught a course called Statistics and Experimental Design required of Carroll Psychology majors. Here is a brief description of HOW I teach PSY205 (click the “HOW” link).

Even after almost 40 years of teaching at Carroll, the first day of class is anxiety-arousing, pressured, critical, and rewarding. As a youth, I was so anxious about giving oral presentations that I fainted when I participated in my first school debate. I had a similar melt-down during the oral component of my graduate school general qualifying examinations in Social Psychology at Ohio State. With experience and a few set backs I’ve learned to over learn and to reframe (attribute) the performance anxiety I inevitably am experiencing into excitement for the task at hand. Sometimes I whistle a happy tune! Click that link and you’ll receive that sage advice from someone who sings better than I. 🙂

These academic first days of the semester pressures I feel are primarily situational nuisances : making sure that my syllabi and handouts are up-to-date, proof-read, and sufficient in number; visiting the classrooms ahead of time to better guarantee that there are enough seats and that the computer equipment works; thinking through how to handle disruptive classroom situations in particular classroom environments; and of course trying to respond in timely fashion to the myriad course-related emails. [Note the irony that I just now am posting this blog post due to first-semester busyness!].

For me the first class meetings are vital for relationship and credibility building—for getting to know my students, creating shared and appropriate expectations, and establishing standards for both students and for me.

This semester I am teaching two sections of PSY 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” (and its two labs) and PSY492, a Research Seminar focusing on the topic of brain-training software.

Based on 1) student evaluations, 2) what my students demonstrate that they can do at semester’s end, 3) how I feel every time I teach it, and 4) feedback I get from alumni “Statistics and Experimental Design ” is without doubt my best taught course. Among the challenges in teaching such a class successfully are the attitudes that some students bring (“I hate math”; “I don’t do well in math”; “I’m afraid”), weaknesses in students’ fundamental computational skills, and their inexperience with my strongly believed outlook that statistics (and data analysis) is a tool, a language and a way of thinking. Here are some reflections I shared a few years ago about teaching the course. How amusing that even in that class, the one in which I am most confident and comfortable, I missed seeing the dog who was present!

Was my failure to notice canine Kia (whom I had met numerous times and who was even featured in a local newspaper story) an example of what Daniel Simons calls Inattentional blindness? Or was my attentional oversight/ blindness due to my being used to always having a canine companion near me, under me or underfoot?

I’m quite excited about teaching the Research Seminar PSY492. Every day we meet there will be opportunities for data analysis, critical reading, reflective writing, and discussion related to the course’s topic. Relationship building is easier here since I already know all 10 students.

I have come to believe that a syllabus should be a dynamic learning tool. To that end on the first day of class I randomly select some students to download my syllabus. Using the classroom projection system, they explore in the syllabus embedded links to such things as a paper I wrote about how I teach and they begin using a tool (Research Randomizer) for drawing random samples and for randomly assigning participants to conditions.

Here is the syllabus I use in my PSY205 “Statistics and Experimental Design Course.”

How useful do you find these links? How might they be improved?

I am moving towards requiring that all my students demonstrate to me minimal mastery of my technology enhanced teaching and the learning tools which I introduce into the classroom.

Here is an example of a Quizlet benchmark: Example 1: Quizlet.

Here are two examples of StarQuiz benchmarks: Example 1: Starquiz and Example 2: StarQuiz.

How helpful are these links? How might they be improved?

I also am increasingly incorporating screencasts made by me (or by my students) into the class as additional instructional support—especially as I teach SPSS. Though I realize that there are an abundance of such resources on YouTube (and even on LinkedIn!), I still see some value in my personally producing them (or having my students do so).

Here are some screen casts that Simpson research assistants Tia and Ariana made for me to demonstrate their mastery of using screen casting software tools:

And here is one of my SPSS screen casts made at home with the help of Leo the Dog:

Should I continue to produce these even though their production quality may not be “professional”?

Below is a first draft outline of an ebook I am contemplating writing. I share it at this time welcoming feedback. I shall use this draft as part as a review for my PSY205 students. Here is a brief description of HOW I teach the course.

Each hyperlink is a “module. Thanks to Arianna, Tia, and Lizzy for helping me create this draft (while I was away from the office).

What data analysis should I use?: Test your knowledge by clicking on the link. Eventually I shall incorporate a flow chart / decision tree here.

I’m glancing at a research article “The Pandora Effect: The Power and Peril of Curiosity” by Christopher K. Hsee and Bowen Ruan recently published in the journal Psychological Science. Since my Oberlin undergraduate days I’ve been interested in the topics of curiosity and intrinsic motivation. Hence, my nom de plume “Curious David.” I wonder how many of my students are familiar with the Greek myth of this first human woman created by the gods. I suspect that more of them are familiar with the radio streaming service by that name.

I’ll probably use the article in my PSY205 course “Statistics and Experimental Design” in several ways. The studies are methodologically simple. They use data analyses I teach in the course. They illustrate the so-called “New Statistics“. In addition, they are amenable to plausible alternative hypotheses. My quick reading suggests additional studies which could be done—-here by my students..

The first and third experiments’ results sections lend themselves well to illustrating how to check the reported effect sizes using the effect size calculators I introduced in an earlier blog piece. I’ll “borrow” and modify the theme of these studies when I create the exam over one-way between subjects ANOVA which I am scheduled to give tomorrow. That is, I’ll in essence propose a study that could/should be done here at Carroll.

I’ll probably have to defer until this summer mastering the intricacies of “The New Statistics” championed by Geoff Cumming. I want to avoid throwing the baby out with the bath water as I attend to blend the revolution in data analysis into my courses. However, here is a first attempt to introduce the concept, calculation, and interpretation of effect sizes into my teaching. Below the screen cast are five very useful effect size online calculators.

Here are five effect size calculators I have found useful enough to share with my students in Psychology 205.

You must be logged in to post a comment.