After a move to a smaller, more rural school I was delighted that I was able to continue to teach Statistics. This year I was fortunate enough to teach College Statistics at my school in conjunction with a small local 4-year university. Previously I taught AP Statistics, so the rigor of this level of statistics was definitely welcome. I had one full year to teach College Statistics. Typically, this course is a 1 semester course in most colleges. So I had some time to make sure my students really understood the material. And I did not have an AP exam for students to prepare for (one student chose to take the AP Stats Test). As long as students earned a C, they would earn a college credit from the cooperating university. I hemmed and hawed over a final examination, I asked the cooperating professor for some guidance – or a sample final exam. I was ECSTATIC to find that he doesn’t give his students a final exam, but a final project, and he encouraged me to consider that as well. My head was spinning! I was given FREEDOM from a FINAL EXAM in a COLLEGE MATHEMATICS course!? I couldn’t believe it! I was sent some example reports, guidelines, expectations, rubrics to try to implement a project like this in my own classroom. It seemed very overwhelming, but I knew if given a chance to do a project instead of a final in a COLLEGE MATH class, I needed to jump on it!
In our school we have the Lake of the Woods Prevention Coalition. This group exists to “unite together to inspire the youth and the Lake of the Woods Community to prevent underage drinking, tobacco and other drug use.” Each year they collect data via student surveys and publish their results to the community and more in an effort to provide preventative services and education to our students. The women who run this coalition, Tammie Doebler and Susan Paulson, do some amazing work in our community. They have an abundant network of coalitions across the state of Minnesota. Tammie and Susan approached me at the beginning of the school year to ask for a partnership with my College Statistics students. Of course I very gladly said yes! At this point, I didn’t realize what this entailed or the REWARD in this project at this point.
Here is a reflection on what we did in class this year and how I want to tweak it in the future.
What we did:
- Students learned Statistics for Quarters 1-3, and most of Quarter 4 – HEAVY on confidence intervals and hypothesis tests.
- We used CPM for curriculum – this was enjoyable for the students and got them used to problem solving and working in teams as well as using mixed space practice to keep reviewing previous topics.
- Students were quizzed & tested every chapter for Quarters 1-3. Quarter 4 consisted of a couple of short quizzes, and their final project.
- Students distributed a survey to the student body, sent it to a survey evaluator to collect the data.
- In groups of 2-3, students chose a topic – a hypothesis they wanted to investigate further:
- Do you think your parents trust you?
- Who uses marijuana more? Males or Females?
- What is used more – alcohol or marijuana?
- Seatbelt use
- Distracted driving
- Data was given to students in RAW form – students organized their data in excel files and spreadsheets to make it
- We had conference calls with our survey evaluator who gave us tips on our data, and on our hypotheses and told us about his job, his qualifications, projects, etc.
- Students turned in rough drafts before their senior trip and had the last week to tweak their reports.
- They had another conference call with our survey evaluator and shared their data and results.
- These reports are being used by the prevention coalition to summarize trends in our community and are being shared across the state.
How students felt:
- They loved that they didn’t have to take a final test.
- They loved that they got to choose a topic that was interesting to them.
- They loved that it incorporated all of the topics they learned.
- They loved the relevance – that it was going to be used in their community in positive ways.
- They didn’t just do it for a grade!
Things I want to change for next year:
- Introduce the project better in the fall.
- Have a timeline/checklist for each month – what should be accomplished with each
- Talk more about biases and perceptions in our community.
- Research public information – before coming up with the questions for the survey, think about how we will use it – comparing it to another community, our state statistics or national statistics.
If you are interested in a project similar to this, I encourage you to find a partner in your community or school. I will be sharing some resources for teachers in the future, so check back for those!
Here are the reports for this year: