Tag: Teaching Statistics

Carroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsPersonal Learning Toolstechnology tools

Changes: How much tinkering should one do with a course that seems to work well?


Carroll has become a special place to me. I have been influenced greatly by its students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni. By its traditions, theater productions and its music.

There are lots of changes these days occurring at Carroll. Some of them are physical, others organizational. Some things never change (read between the lines:); some things never should change.

I asked research assistants Alison and Lizzy to document some of the physical changes. Here is what they produced:

I continue to experiment with my “best” course (Statistics and Experimental Design) to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. Here is how I have taught it in the past. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students past and present as I experiment.

This semester I was influenced in what did the during the  first week of class by a Chronicle of Higher Education thought piece about making best use of the first class day.

I began the class wanting to test the sound systems so I shared this amazing tribute to David Bowie:


Instead of calling out the class list to take attendance I give a quiz every day with immediate feedback which goes into a student portfolio. I also call upon a random group of students (selected by students using random sampling software to select the lucky students). Two students won free copies of my workbook!

Since then I have introduced them to SPSS and InStat (i.e. that the latter software exists) and to Survey Monkey.

Here is something Lizzy and Alison produced illustrating one of these tools:

I have also shown them Quizlet, started urging them to read germane articles from the Chronicle of Higher Education, and attempted to alert them to ethical issues about research by sharing lessons I have learned from Diederik Stapel.

To date, I seem to have highly engaged students learning and eager to learn. The first exam is February 10.

I am now invite their feedback and yours.




Curious David

Learning by Teaching: Alison’s and Lizzy’s Guide to Using SPSS Data Analysis for Simple Linear Regression

DSCN8480One of the many lessons I’ve learned from many years of teaching is how much I learn through the act of teaching. It recently occurred to me that one way to facilitate my students’ learning of statistics is to position them to teach it. Below is a video created by two of my students illustrating how to use and interpret SPSS’s procedures for creating a scatter plot, calculating Pearson’s r, and, if warranted, performing a simple linear regression. Here is what they wrote and did:


This video was designed to help demonstrate an SPSS analysis for a simple linear regression. This video helps to show the steps to obtain an analysis of data, but the steps are also printed below for further assistance.

Step 1) Enter the names of the data into the variable view. For our data, the first name is Global Awareness which is the “independent variable” while the second name is “Satisfaction” which is the dependent variable. The data will come up automatically as numeric, but change the decimals to 0. Once complete hit the data view.

Step 2) Enter data under the appropriate name.

Step 3) To see if several of Pearson r’s assumptions are met  first create a scatter plot. To create the scatter plot, go underneath graphs, legacy dialogues, and then click on scatter/dot. Then a pop up menu will appear and select simple scatterplot, which is the first option. Then SPSS will ask you for the x and y axis. The X is the independent variable while the Y is the dependent variable.

Step 4) When the scatter plot appears, notice the  direction (positive or negative), the strength of the scatter plot, and if the scatter plot is linear. If the scatter plot is linear, calculate Pearson’s r.

Step 5) To calculate Pearson’s r, go under Analyze, Correlate, than select bi-variate, and a pop up menu will ask you for the independent and dependent variable. Make sure the Pearson box is selected as well as the two tailed box.

Step 6) To calculate the linear regression, go under Analyze, Regression, and select linear. A pop up menu will ask for the independent and dependent variable.

To understand the data:

Pearson’s r indicates how strong the two variables are correlated.

r squared is the coefficient of determination which communicates how much of the Y variable is explainable by knowing the X variable.

The standard error of estimate is the range around a predicted score within which you are sure with a specified degree of certainty that the predicted score will indeed fall.

Underneath the coefficients table in the B column, one is able to see the y predicted equation (Ypredicted = Bx + A). B is going to be the next to the independent variable while the A is going to be next to the constant.


Carroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning ToolsPersonal Learning Toolstechnology tools

Retrospective Thinking: How much tinkering should one do with a course that seems to work well?

I continue to experiment with my “best” course to make it better by finding the right balance of technology-assisted and personally- delivered instruction. I have been pleased at the helpfulness, useful feedback and receptiveness of students as we “experiment.”

I just made a Screenflow screencast of what I taught in lab this week (using SPSS to create a scatterplot, calculate Pearson’s r, and do simple linear regression).

This time I published it on YouTube rather than on Vimeo.

I also, in response to student feedback, created some Quizlet study materials. Click the Quizlet link to try them.

A next step will be to involve students in the creation of such materials—rather than my doing so. That may wait until next year, however, since I want to  introduce this year’s students to instruction in using Survey Monkey survey creation software.

Please go here to evaluate the video shown above

It would be fun to teach an entire course on these topics.



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On Engaging Students (Part 2): Adventures with StarQuiz and SPSS


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Good recent research suggests that repeated testing enhances learning. How can I best incorporate those important findings into my courses? As a beginning, I have revisited a piece of software,StarQuiz, (originally developed by a high school student) that has proven useful and reliable since I discovered it about 10 years ago. There is something comforting about using a piece of software for almost 15 years and across many evolving operating systems without a glitch.

I am considering incorporating it into my PSY205 “Statistics and Experimental Design Course” —if the students can demonstrate to methat it enhances their mastery of the course’s material. I welcome student feedback—and suggestions from other readers of software they consider better.

To try it enter your name—you need not enter your email address. If a “David” has already tried it, enter a different name (e.g. Voldemoort).


Here is a link to one of the two practice tests I shared with students in my class today. I encouraged students to collaborate, use notes, and be mutually supportive of each other in the process.

Here is a link to a second example which I introduced in my class.

And here is a review of SPSS (with bloopers!) Keep those constructive comments coming

                     (and you international viewers, I welcome your comments, too).

Carroll ReflectionsCurious DavidJane Hart's Top 100 Learning Toolstechnology tools

Random Thoughts (Teaching Tools Used)

Continuing my reflections on cascading into the classroom technology learning tools I’ve explored the past 7 years thanks to influence of Jane Hart


A wonderful tool for teaching about random sampling and random assignment is available through the generosity of Scott Plous who created the invaluable online resource Social Psychology Network. I introduce students to Research Randomizer in my Psychology 205 “Statistics and Experimental Design” course where I require that they go through the excellent online tutorials.  I often have students subsequently draw random samples from my class list who are the designated students-to-be-called-upon for the day. I see Research randomizer as a valuable teaching tool in almost any course where students and faculty are interested in an easy to use, valid, way of drawing random samples or to randomly assign participants to conditions. Much superior to drawing mixed numbers from my hat!

Here is a brief screencast one of my research assistants and i made illustrating how I introduce Research randomizer to my PSY 205 students.

Random Thoughts from David Simpson on Vimeo.